animal, dog, pet

5 Serious Symptoms of Vaginitis in Dogs You Should Know

by: Susana Johnson, CVT

Our dogs are faithful companions and we love them like family. So when we notice unusual behavior we might suspect that something is wrong.

If you notice that Princess is suddenly peeing in the house or Sadie is seen scooting on the carpet, it might be time to schedule her next appointment.

What is Vaginitis in Dogs?

Vaginitis is simply an inflammation of the vaginal area. It can happen to dogs of any breed or age and it doesn’t matter if they are intact or spayed.

There are two types of vaginitis in dogs including juvenile vaginitis and adult-onset vaginitis. Puppies who develop the condition are often asymptomatic although there could be mild irritation of the skin around the vulva area.

Puppies with juvenile vaginitis could also have very mild signs of discharge and frequent licking of the area.

Some of the causes of vaginitis are:

Bacterial infection Cause of Vaginitis in Dogs

Bacterial infection is the most common cause of vaginitis in dogs. It may be caused by normally occurring bacteria that is overgrowing or from contamination (such as fecal material) by outside bacteria.

Viral infections That May Cause Canine Vaginitis

Viral infections such as Canine Herpes Virus is more likely a cause of vaginitis in adult dogs than in juveniles.

Foreign body

Sometimes foreign bodies such as a foxtail, dust, lint, pollen, or even a retained placenta from a previous birth can cause vaginitis.

Incontinence

If urine gets into the vagina it can lead to irritation, especially if your dog has a urinary tract infection.

Signs of urinary tract infections include the need to pee more frequently, straining while trying to pee, blood in the urine, attempting to pee in the house.

Physical abnormality

This could be many things such as an abscess, a septum, a cancer or tumor. In puppies, vaginitis can be caused by congenital deformation such as an inverted vulva.

Symptoms of vaginitis in dogs can vary.

How Is Vaginitis In Dogs Diagnosed?

To determine the best treatment for your dog, your veterinarian will look for the cause of the symptoms. When you take your dog to see a veterinarian with symptoms of vaginitis, the doctor will need to perform an exam. This will include looking at your dog, pressing the abdomen, taking your dog’s body temperature, and asking you questions about your dog’s health, diet, lifestyle, what kind of symptoms you’ve noticed, and for how long. 

The doctor will decide what diagnostic tests are important and may include:

Bloodwork results can tell your veterinarian so much about the overall health of your pet and can indicate if an infection is a likely cause.

Cytology

This may include taking a sample of the discharge or a swab of the vagina to look at under a microscope

Culture

This will include taking a sample to grow in a lab because if you can identify the microorganism that is growing, you can determine the best treatment to stop it

X-rays and ultrasounds

X-rays and ultrasounds create images that the doctor can use to see physical abnormalities that you can’t see or feel during an exam.

Vaginoscopy

This uses a scope with a camera to see inside the vagina; this is great for identifying small lesions that may not be visible using an x-ray or ultrasound.

Some of these tests are important not just for determining the best treatment for vaginitis, but also to differentiate it from other illnesses. A few illnesses have similar symptoms to vaginitis or may occur at the same time.

Conditions That Can Mimic Symptoms Of Vaginitis In Dogs

Pyometra

Pyometra in dogs is an infection in the lining of the uterus; this is an emergency that typically occurs in older dogs and usually requires surgery.

Bladder Infection

Bladder infections often occurs at the same time as vaginitis and either one may lead to the other.

Abnormal Anatomy

A physical abnormality within the vagina will need to be repaired before medication can be effective.

Once your veterinarian has made a diagnosis of vaginitis and determined a likely cause, there are several treatment options they may choose from depending on your dog’s case. Your veterinarian will decide the best course of action.

Optimum Treatment For A Fast Recovery

Antibiotics

Your veterinarian may prescribe a round of antibiotics for your dog if a bacterial infection is the likely cause of the vaginitis.

Remove A Foreign Body

Identifying and removing a foreign body may be the only treatment required to provide your dog relief.

Local Treatment

Local treatment could include medicated douches or wipes for reducing inflammation and itch.

Do Nothing

Vaginitis in puppies usually resolves itself after the first heat cycle.

Vaginitis in puppies usually clears up on its own

5 Signs And Symptoms Of Vaginitis In Dogs

Discharge

May be yellow or white and may contain mucus or blood.

Frequent urination or incontinence

Irritation from vaginitis can make holding urine difficult. There may be a urinary tract infection at the same time.

Help for You When Dealing With Incontinent Pets

Training an adult dog to use the bathroom at a designated spot in the house is easier than you might think. The trick is to get your pets used to it before there’s a problem. Absorbent pads don’t always work because they don’t feel natural to animals.

Pets need to feel real grass under their feet. They need a smell or hint that they’ve been there before. Having a piece of your own lawn in the house is the best way to get your dog to pee where you want them to.

If your dog is suffering from incontinence, has just had surgery, or has a torn ACL (Canine CCl injury), not having to move them outside to use the bathroom is convenient and prevents further pain for your pet.

Living in an apartment or condo presents even more challenges when you’re caring for a sick pet. If you live in a cold climate, you know how inconvenient it is to get bundled up in your winter gear to take your dog out. Other reasons why you might want your pet to “go” inside include:

  • Your own health. You could be recovering from an injury, surgery, or just not feeling well enough to get outside with your pet.
  • Inclement weather. A lot of dogs don’t even want to be outside when the weather is bad.

DoggieLawn offers all natural, organic, hydroponic grass pads like the one in the image below. They’re 100% neater and cleaner than a doggy pad and can be used inside or outside on a balcony. Click on the image below to get all of your questions answered. It’s really the best thing since sliced bread.

Licking

Your dog may lick her genitals in an attempt to find relief; the bacteria from the mouth could lead to an infection in the vagina

Crusty Fur Around Vulva

Female dogs can develop crusty hair around the vulva as a result of dried discharge.

Scooting

You will recognize this behavior as a dog pulling or dragging his/her bum across the carpet, floor, or outside in the yard.

Summary

Consult your veterinarian if your dog has any symptoms of vaginitis. Even mild cases can be uncomfortable or painful. It can also be a sign of something more urgent. Dogs who scoot or suddenly have incontinence may be experiencing any number of conditions from an infection to blocked anal glands.

Treatments are usually very effective so Lola will be back to her normal self before you can say “woof”!

References:

dvm360

MerckVetManual – reproductive disorders

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