Simple steps to identify and treat metritis

Metritis is one of the most common fresh cow diseases. Typically diagnosed during the first 10 days in milk, metritis is a uterine infection that can affect up to 30 percent of a dairy herd.1

“After calving, cows are uniquely challenged by a suppressed immune system and negative energy balance at the same time they’re exposed to many diseases,” says Doug Hammon, DVM, Ph.D., senior manager, Cattle Technical Services, Pfizer Animal Health. “With all of these factors working against them, it is easy to see why fresh cows are so fragile and susceptible to metritis.”

Metritis can cause a decline in fertility, lower milk production, a greater risk of culling and increased labor and treatment costs, adding up to more than $350 per cow for each case of metritis.2 Although it cannot be completely prevented, metritis should be identified and treated early to reduce its effects.

What to look for
Dr. Hammon suggests thoroughly screening fresh cows for the first 10 days after calving and quickly treating those detected with metritis to prevent more costly consequences. Here are some key steps for a complete screening:
Check the udder for fullness before milking. Udders on fresh cows should be full and tight.
Watch for major drops in production from one milking to the next.
Examine uterine discharge and look for a red-brown or watery discharge accompanied by a strong, foul odor.
Assess the cow’s attitude and demeanor. Look for “ depressed cows” with sunken, crusty eyes, nasal discharge or cold, lowered ears.
Look for cows who may be dehydrated or who aren’t eating properly.
Check for fever. A temperature of 103° F or higher could be a symptom.
Keep cows comfortable. Don’t keep cows locked up for more than an hour during health checks.

What to do next
Cows with metritis usually can stay in the fresh pen and should not be exposed to cows in a hospital area unless the case is complicated. Work with your veterinarian to check any cows flagged as possible metritis cases to confirm with a diagnosis. A veterinarian can examine the cow by checking her temperature, checking for a displaced abomasum and rectally palpating the cow to assess her manure and uterine discharge.

How to treat
Once diagnosed with metritis, it is important to treat quickly to avoid other infections and return the fresh cow to peak production. EXCEDE® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension is now approved to treat acute postpartum metritis in a two-dose regimen. EXCEDE is backed by the Residue Free Guarantee* and offers the residue risk assurance of zero milk discard and a meat withdrawal time of 13 days following the last dose.

“Veterinarians and producers will find the two-dose regimen for EXCEDE to be very efficacious and cost-effective and likely more convenient than daily metritis treatments,” says Dr. Hammon. “What’s also nice about this treatment is that EXCEDE has zero milk withholding, so the cow can remain in the fresh pen, which not only saves time and labor but also, according to the University of Wisconsin-Madison,3 is beneficial to her.”

The protocol for the two-dose EXCEDE treatment begins with the first dose administered at the base of one ear, for example, the left ear. Then, 72 hours later, another dose is administered at the base of the opposite ear; in this example, the right ear. This regimen has been demonstrated effective on-farm.4 In a field research trial conducted on 15 large dairies, 74.3 percent of cows with acute metritis were cured after being treated with two doses of EXCEDE.

To learn more about EXCEDE for the treatment of metritis, visit or contact your veterinarian or Pfizer Animal Health representative.

Important Safety Information: As with all drugs, the use of EXCEDE is contraindicated in animals with known allergy to ceftiofur or to the ß-lactam group (penicillins and cephalosporins) of antimicrobials. Though safe in cattle when properly administered, inadvertent intra-arterial injection is possible and fatal. EXCEDE has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of 13 days following the last dose in cattle. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal.

Prescribing Information

About Pfizer Animal Health
Pfizer Animal Health, a business unit of Pfizer Inc., is a world leader in the discovery, development and manufacture of innovative animal health vaccines, medicines, diagnostic products and genetic tests. We work to assure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy beef and dairy cattle, swine, poultry, sheep and fish while helping dogs, cats and horses live healthier longer lives.  We strive to be the animal health company that provides full healthcare solutions to veterinarians, livestock producers, and pet owners. To learn more, visit

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