Puppy Vaginitis is not uncommon in puppies, typically due to the prepubertal (sexually immature) vagina. Any puppy of any breed has the same risk of developing puppy vaginitis. Vaginitis is the medical term referring to inflammation of the vagina or vestibule.
Symptoms of vaginitis
Signs or symptoms of puppy vaginitis can appear in puppies as young as 6 weeks or as old as 8 months of age. Some of the most common symptoms are:
increased frequency of urination
irritation or redness around the vulva
vaginal discharge or mucus that can be sticky and white, or yellow in color
dry, crusted discharge on the fur around the vulva
scooting on the floor or excessive licking due to the irritation
Causes of puppy vaginitis?
There are numerous causes of vaginitis, including:
prepubertal (sexually immature) vagina
infection - bacterial or viral
urinary tract infections
urine or fecal contamination of the vulva
ectopic (abnormally situated) ureter
vaginal hematomas or abscesses
How is Puppy Vaginitis diagnosed?
Puppy vaginitis is something that owners are often unaware of and can be diagnosed by the history or physical exam by your Vet at a routine puppy visit. A urine test or urinalysis is the typical test performed to help determine if there is a urinary tract infection causing or contributing to vaginitis. Other diagnostic tests could include blood, urine culture, and antibiotic sensitivity tests, vaginal cultures, vaginoscopy (visually looking in the vagina with a camera), and vaginal cytology slides.
Vaginitis treated at home
If the symptoms are not too severe, good hygiene may be all that is needed. At home you can clean the vulva area with mild, antibacterial soap and water, taking care to wipe from the front to back. Your Vet may recommend vaginal douches (0.05% chlorhexidine or 0.5% povidone-iodine solutions).
Veterinary treatment of vaginitis
An antibiotic ointment or cream may be prescribed to apply topically to the area after proper cleaning. These may also have an anti-inflammatory medication in them to help with the discomfort caused by the inflammation. It is important to not allow the puppy to lick the medication. At times, a buster or Elizabethan collar may need to be worn by the puppy. Depending on your puppy’s condition, your Vet may prescribe antibiotics.
When to call the Vet regarding vaginitis?
Mild puppy vaginitis can usually be managed at home. If the symptoms are worsening, especially frequent urination, increased amounts of drainage or discharge, or the color of the discharge changes from white/yellow to yellow/green, then a physical exam by a Vet and likely further treatment will be needed. If you are at all worried about your puppy showing signs of puppy vaginitis, a Veterinary exam is a good idea.
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, the prognosis is dependent on the severity and duration of the condition. Surgery may be indicated in severe or complicated cases.