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puppy vaginal discharge

What is puppy vaginitis?

There is so much to know and understand about raising a healthy, happy puppy. Many issues can arise, and some require a trip to the vet, without question. But what if your female puppy’s vulva is swollen or red? What if there is some unpleasant drainage present? Read on to learn more about to causes, symptoms, and treatment of puppy vaginitis.

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Causes of Puppy Vaginitis

Vaginitis means “an inflammation of the vagina.” The exact cause of puppy vaginitis is unclear. However, there may be some sort of hormonal relationship as the condition usually seems to clear up once the dog has been spayed or gone through her first heat.

There may be some contributing factors such as fecal contamination, a chemical imbalance in the urine which can lead to an unusually high or low pH, a urinary tract infection, or an abnormality of the puppy’s vaginal or vulvar anatomy. There does not seem to be a breed predilection. Any puppy of any breed of dog has about the same risk of developing puppy vaginitis.

Symptoms of Puppy Vaginitis

Signs of puppy vaginitis can appear in puppies as young as 6 weeks and as old as 8 months of age. They may last a few weeks to a few months and they may come and go. Typical signs or symptoms may include:

  • Mild irritation or redness around the vulva
  • Vaginal discharge or mucus that can be sticky and white, or even yellow in color
  • Dry, crusted discharge on the fur around the vulva
  • Scooting on the floor or excessive licking due to the irritation
  • Frequent urination

How is puppy vaginitis diagnosed?

Puppy vaginitis is something that owners are often unaware of and can be diagnosed simply by the history or physical exam with your vet at a routine puppy visit. A urine test called a “urinalysis” may be performed to help determine if there is indeed a urinary tract infection causing or contributing to the vaginitis. Rarely is further testing required.

Treatment at the Vet and Home Remedies for Puppy Vaginitis

If the symptoms aren’t 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 the back just like in humans.

An antibiotic ointment or cream may be prescribed to apply topically to the area after proper cleaning. These creams or ointments may also have an anti-inflammatory medication in them to help with the discomfort caused by the inflammation. It’s 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.

In more advanced cases, oral antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatories may be prescribed by your vet.

How to Prevent Puppy Vaginitis

The best way to prevent vaginitis in adult dogs is to get them spayed. In puppies too young to be spayed, however, it’s important to monitor for symptoms of vaginitis, help keep the vulvar area clean, and provide a clean, happy, stress-free environment. Puppy vaginitis usually resolves on its own once the dog reaches puberty.

When to Call the Vet

Mild puppy vaginitis can usually be managed at home. If the symptoms are worsening- especially frequent urination, increased amounts of drainage, or changes in the color of the drainage from white/yellow to yellow/green - a physical exam by a vet and likely further treatment will be needed. If you’re worried about your puppy showing signs of puppy vaginitis, an exam is a good idea. You can book a video call with us at FirstVet to get an initial assessment of your puppy and to help determine if any follow-up might be needed.

Read more:

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) in Dogs

Why is my pet scooting? Recognizing anal gland problems in cats and dogs

Housebreaking: Everything You Need to Know About Potty Training Your Puppy

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