Vaginitis in Dogs

By Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM

Medical Conditions, Pet Services

What is vaginitis?

Vaginitis is the medical term referring to inflammation of the vagina or vestibule.

What are the clinical signs of vaginitis?

dog_f_vaginitis_ventral_view_2018-01The most common clinical signs of vaginitis include increased frequency of urination, licking of the vaginal area, vaginal discharges of mucus, pus, or blood (rarely), and scooting or rubbing of the vaginal area. The vagina will often appear red and swollen. Vaginitis can appear in any female, spayed or intact, and at any age. Male dogs are often attracted to females with vaginitis.

What causes vaginitis?

There are numerous causes of vaginitis, including:

  • prepubertal (sexually immature) vagina
  • urinary tract infections
  • vaginal trauma
  • foreign bodies
  • urine or fecal contamination of the vulva
  • ectopic (abnormally situated) ureter
  • urinary incontinence
  • vaginal tumors
  • infection - bacterial or viral
  • vaginal hematomas or abscesses
  • anatomical abnormalities

How will the cause of my dog's vaginitis be diagnosed?

Diagnosis is most often based on medical history and clinical signs. Diagnostic tests can include blood and urine tests (which are often normal), urine culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests, vaginal cultures, vaginoscopy (visually looking in the vagina with a camera), and vaginal cytology studies.

How is vaginitis treated?

Treatment is based on the specific cause of your pet's condition. Many pets receive antibiotics based on sensitivity testing or source location of the problem and twice daily vaginal douches (0.05% chlorhexidine or 0.5% povidone-iodine solutions). Your veterinarian will develop a precise treatment plan for your pet's individual needs. Most cases seen before the dog reaches puberty will resolve after the first heat cycle.

What is the prognosis for a dog diagnosed with vaginitis?

Most cases of vaginitis respond well to conservative treatment. Many dogs return to normal within two to three weeks of initiating treatment. Most cases of prepubertal vaginitis resolve after the first heat cycle and further treatment is not needed. Adult dogs may benefit from spaying if they are still intact. In chronic cases or dogs with anatomical abnormalities [see handouts "Recessed Vulva" and “Vulvoplasty (Episoplasty)”], the prognosis is dependent on the severity and duration of the condition. Surgery may be indicated in severe or complicated cases.

Contributors: Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Ernest Ward, DVM
© Copyright 2018 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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