Several disorders of the ovaries and uterus can occur in dogs and one of the most serious is a pus-filled, swollen uterus called pyometra. The fluid and thickening of the walls of the uterus causes an increase in the size of the uterus. The usual signs are drinking more water than usual, a tense and swollen abdomen, loss of appetite, and often a fever. There may or may not be an infected vaginal discharge. The build up of pus, i.e. white blood cells that accumulate in defense of infection, can escape through the uterine tract and is seen as a discharge from the vulva. It often collects on the fur under the tail and back legs. In some cases no discharge is present and it is called a closed pyometra. Once the cervix is closed the continued flow of fluid causes a tremendous increase of the uterus. The risk of rupture of the organ is substantial. If this happens the content is spilled into the abdominal cavity and the dog usually dies within a short time.
Any patient diagnosed with pyometra needs immediate attention. It is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition often seen in middle-aged and older female dogs. Bacteria and toxins enter the bloodstream and cause havoc with the kidneys, liver and other organs and may lead to uremic poisoning, endotoxic shock, kidney failure and sudden death. The older the dog, the higher the risk to get sick. It usually occurs some weeks after a heat cycle in which fertilization did not occur. Based on the constitutional predisposition, various factors play into the development of pyometra such as irregular heat cycles, bladder or vaginal infections, hormone imbalance and therapy, and false pregnancy episodes. Certain breeds are more disposed to get pyometra like the Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Mountain Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Cocker Spaniel and Rough-Haired Collie.
Common clinical signs include:
Frequent, profuse urination (polyuria).
Excessive thirst and water consumption (polydipsia).
Appetite loss, anorexia, vomiting.
Depression and lethargy.
Uterine enlargement and abdominal distension.
Weakness, especially in the rear legs, and malaise.
A purulent and possibly bloody vaginal discharge, causing the dog to lick the vagina constantly if the cervix is open.
Possibly a low-grade fever.
An elevated white blood cell count.
The dog may prefer to lie on a cool ground to cool the inflammation.
Diagnosis can be supported by X-ray, ultrasound, urine, blood and lab tests.
Veterinarians treat pyometra as an emergency. Surgical removal is the recommended treatment. However, these dogs can be a surgical challenge on an animal who is unstable and in a poor overall condition. Pyometra surgery involves the risk of peritonitis and profuse hemorrhage. Antibiotics and pain medications are given as well and possibly prostaglandin’s and fluid therapy to help support kidney function. Lesions in the kidneys may take a long time to heal. Pyometra may cause damage and scarring within the uterus making conception impossible.
The dog, a ten year old Labrador mix, was already declining rapidly when I was called in the late evening. Her owner told me that she hadn’t eaten for a couple of days. She was restless, especially at night, when the light on the yard would often go on and off from her wandering.
When her owner walked her she would only go very slowly and finally stop and refuse to walk. When moving she preferred to stretch the rear legs backwards. When standing, her abdomen visibly contracted, moving in and outwards.
The dog had suffered from profuse leucorrhoea for a couple of days. There was a constant, purulent, bloody and offensive discharge from her vagina. Antibiotics had not improved her condition, so surgery for gynectomy was urgently recommended.
When I came to see her there wasn’t much life inside the dog anymore. She had lost flesh rapidly and was lying on the floor with the extremities and face twitching during sleep. When awake, she trembled and apathetically gazed before her. Her paws, which used to be warm, were cold.
The dog was clearly in a very serious condition and surgery the only possibility to save the dog’s life according to the orthodox vet. Surgery itself, however, is never curative, as it does not cure the underlying pathological process that caused the ailment to occur. It tends to be suppressive as it closes a vent before the cause is cured. Recurrence in this or another region of the body may follow, even in more vital organs. The vital force may be able to find a vent or channel through some other point of least resistance, but cure might be delayed or impossible. With the removal of the pathological end product, Hering’s law of direction of cure is blocked, as symptoms cannot disappear in the reverse order of their appearance. True cure must always proceed in the correct order, from center to circumference, from above downward, from within outwards, and from more important to less important organs. Symptoms which disappear in the reverse order of their appearance are removed permanently.
One of the most important duties of the homeopath is to recognize what is curable and what is not curable by our medicines, and when surgery has to be performed as palliative emergency treatment to save the patient’s life. Surgery, however, can be essential in some situations as a means for preservation of life. Hahnemann advised that in most urgent cases, where danger to life and imminent death do not allow time for a homeopathic remedy to act, “only in such cases is it permissible and expedient, at least for the time being, to rouse the irritability and sensibility (the physical life) again by means of a palliative.”
In cases where a pathology has been formed, our duty is to pause with surgery if we can evaluate the totality of characteristic symptoms of the case, which allow the homeopath to find the homeopathic remedy. As long as strange, rare, peculiar and characteristic symptoms are present, which form a symptom picture that allows us to choose the similar remedy from the materia medica, the case is not hopeless. This is the precondition to find the curative remedy, which acts according to the Law of Similars.
As there were characteristic and peculiar symptoms available to form the totality and a picture that allowed me to chose the similar remedy, I decided for homeopathic treatment. The presence of characteristic symptoms speaks for the patient’s reactivity and that there is ability to respond to homeopathic treatment. The owner was advised to stay in contact with the vet clinic and to take the dog for surgery if there were any aggravation of symptoms.
The dogs symptoms were classified, evaluated and repertorized as follows:
Mind, indifference, apathy
Mind, indifference, apathy, life, to
Mind, indifference, apathy, everything, to
Mind, restlessness, nervousness, tendency, night
Generalities, emaciation, rapid
Generalities, weakness, enervation, exhaustion, prostration: disease, acute, in
Generalities, trembling, externally
Generalities, twitching, sleep, agg., during
Generalities, motion, agg.
Face, twitching, sleep, during
Stomach, appetite, wanting
Female genitalia, leucorrhea, bloody
Female genitalia, leucorrhea, purulent
Female genitalia, leucorrhea, offensive
Female genitalia, inflammation, uterus
Extremities, coldness, hands
Extremities, coldness, foot
Extremities, twitching, sleep, agg., during
Choice of the remedy
Weakness out of proportion to the disease is a very characteristic symptom for Arsenicum and missing in Sep, Merc and Sulph. This, and the peculiar concomitant symptom of the twitching face are only covered by Arsenicum
Materia Medica: Arsenicum album
The Arsenicum patient is too weak to toss as the anguish and restlessness would incline him to… It makes little difference what the disease is, if this persistent restlessness and especially if great weakness is also present….don’t forget ARSENICUM ALBUM.
Uneasiness in the lower limbs, he cannot lie still in the night, and had to change the position of his feet all the time or to walk about, to get relief. (Allen’s encyclopedia)
Arsenicum is of great value in diseased conditions of the uterus, including inflammations, ulceration’s, cancer, and hemorrhages, with lancinating, burning pains. (W.I.Pierce)
Great indifference. Calm indifference; without caring about their approaching death, they neither expected nor desired to recover. (T.F.Allen, Encyclopedia of pure Materia Medica)
She lay on the bed completely devoid of sense, the eyes staring, … trembling all over the body. (MMP by S.Hahnemann)
Pricking twitching or jerking in one side of the upper lips, especially when going to sleep. Twitching of the limbs. Violent twitching of the lower extremities. Violent twitching of the whole body. (T.F.Allen, Encyclopedia of pure Materia Medica)
The discharges from the uterus, the menstrual flow, the leucorrhoea…, all the discharges are putrid.
Leucorrhoea, bloody, yellow, offensive, putrid. (A.Seideneder, Mitteldetails)
The dog received Arsenicum album C1000, one dose in the late evening (1 globule dissolved in a cup of water, one teaspoon was given). Next morning she got already up by herself and ate something. She was cleaned regularly. She got two further doses of Ars 200C on the two following days. Three days after the commencement of homeopathic treatment the dog went again on her regular walk and soon recovered.
In all acute cases it is most important to continue with chronic, anti-miasmatic treatment to prevent recurrence and cure the fundamental cause. Pet owners should be informed about the benefits of chronic homeopathic treatment for their animals, which helps prevent future suffering and expense.
When using homeopathy for animals we often face the difficulty of having limited or unreliable information. Animals may present scanty mental’s and sensations as these are difficult to assess. The etiology is often unknown as well as hereditary, miasmatic influences whose knowledge is helpful in the treatment of chronic cases. Interpretations and speculations are to be avoided by all means. Thus, we have to be as objective as possible to make a successful prescription. This case presented characteristic symptoms which allowed the choice of the similar remedy, which brought about of a rapid cure. Fortunately, the dog still had enough vital reaction to evoke a healing reaction.
Veterinarians usually recommend having female dogs spayed at an early age as the best means for prevention. Homeopathy, however, offers the possibility of treating dogs chronically to prevent recurrence and cure the underlying predisposition. It can obviate the need for undertaking the unnatural and risky operation and even save future generations from this kind of ailment.
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