You Make The Diagnosis: Vaginal Discharge In A Dog

Pictured below is the rear end of a middle-aged female dog. Her tail is to the left and her legs are pulled forward, to the right. The dog had a normal heat cycle four months prior. The owners noticed that she was sleeping more than normal and picking at her food. A day later, they noticed a thick, green-colored vaginal discharge. Study the image below then answer the following questions: What does this dog have? How is this condition treated?


Diagnosis: Pyometra

Pyometra is a life-threatening condition in female dogs.  It occurs weeks to months after a heat cycle. Increased progesterone levels cause hyperplasia of the endometrium of the uterus. Add bacteria to the mix and the result is an infected uterus. If the cervix is open as in this dog, the pus will drain out of the vulva making the diagnosis easy. If the cervix is closed, the diagnosis requires diagnostic tests (x-rays and/or ultrasound). 

Treatment is simple, spay the dog. The pus-filled uterus must be removed quickly or the dog will die of septic shock. This dog was one of the lucky ones, she made it through surgery and made a complete recovery after several days in the hospital. 


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.