Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder



Cattle are the main species of interest.

Other Names

  • Uterine Infection



This is inflammation extending deep into the uterine wall, usually from infection of the uterus after calving, abortion, or as a complication of retained foetal membranes.

Only cattle up to 6 months pregnant are usually exported, hence metritis is more likely associated with abortion than calving in the export process. 

Retention of foetal membranes after abortion (and calving) may increase the risk of metritis. In some cattle, metritis may develop into a systemic infection or septicaemia which can be rapidly fatal if untreated.

Clinical Signs and Diagnosis

Metritis is often associated with straining and a foul smelling brown watery discharge from the vulva. A recent history of calving (particularly dystocia with assisted delivery), abortion, or retained foetal membranes should identify animals at risk of metritis. 

Differential diagnoses include dystocia with a dead calf, retained foetal membranes, and possibly salmonellosis and coccidiosis if there is straining and blood on the tail.


Systemic antibiotics (procaine penicillin, oxytetracycline, trimethoprim sulpha, erythromycin, tylosin, or tilmicosin) should be administered as soon as metritis is suspected, to minimise the risk of septicaemia or toxaemia. Use of intra-uterine treatments, such as pessaries, is not recommended as they are likely to be ineffective.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (flunixin meglumine, ketoprofen, meloxicam, or tolfenamic acid) are recommended if the animal is continually straining or is not eating.


Careful selection to avoid heavily pregnant animals that may be at risk of parturition and subsequent metritis during the export process. If vaginal intervention is required for assistance with aborting or calving animals, or in animals with retained foetal membranes, pay attention to hygiene, avoid manual extraction of retained foetal membranes, and observe animals closely for any signs of metritis.