Learning about common conditions and diseases helps you promptly respond to any issue that might affect your dog's wellbeing. This article will give you information about one such condition in females – vaginitis in dogs.
Discharge from the vagina, swelling around the vulva, difficulty in urination, and frequent licking of the vulva may suggest that your female dog has vaginitis. Why did this happen? And what should you do? Read on to find out.
What Is Vaginitis In Dogs?
Vaginitis in dogs is a condition characterized by inflammation and irritation of the vagina. It is not a disease in itself but a broader condition that is suggestive of other infections, which may be caused by bacteria, fungi, or hormonal imbalances. All age groups are equally susceptible to these problems. Vaginitis can develop in both spayed and unspayed dogs.
Vaginitis can be classified on the basis of severity, duration, and the primary reason that has led to this infection, the latter being the most commonly used type of classification among veterinarians around the globe.
What Causes Vaginitis In Dogs?
As we know, vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina. The inflammation, which is the defensive response of the body, can be triggered by multiple causes. It could even be a small insect bite, physical traumatic injury, or a more serious infection caused by bacteria or fungi.
The most common cause of vaginitis in dogs is a bacterial infection. Bacteria are found in the environment naturally. They cause an infection only when they find a suitable environment for growth. Some bacteria known for causing vaginitis are E coli, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus. The most important one among these is the Brucella.
Another prominent reason is a fungal infection caused by fungi that grow in the moist and warm conditions of the urinogenital tract. In young puppies, the most common reason for vaginitis is hormonal imbalance. These are the major causes, but this condition may also be caused by the following factors:
- Foreign body penetration or trauma
- Vaginal tumor
- Contamination of the vulva by feces
- Abnormal position of the ureter
- Vaginal hematomas
- Viral infections
What Are The Symptoms Of Vaginitis In Dogs?
Dogs with mild vaginitis usually appear playful and cheery. Some dogs may not show any signs, while others may show clinical symptoms suggestive of moderate to severe vaginitis. You may notice the following signs in these dogs:
- A whitish-yellow smelly vaginal discharge, that may contain blood.
- Excessive licking of the genital area.
- Scooting on the ground.
- Difficulty in urination, with increased frequency.
- Swollen vulva.
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Diagnosis Of Vaginitis In Dogs
Your veterinarian will require basic information and medical history to diagnose the cause effectively. You may be asked about your dog's diet, appetite, exercise routines, etc. Activity level and change in behavior can also help establish the severity of the disease.
Next, your vet will do a physical exam. Your vet will palpate the vulva to check for any deformity or swelling, while observing the change in color of the mucosa of the vagina and the nature of vaginal discharges. For better observation, vaginoscopy may also be considered to look for lesions or cellular masses in the vagina.
Radiographs and ultrasonography can also help confirm the diagnosis if the Veterinarian thinks that are required. Vaginal cytology, antibiotic sensitivity testing, and blood work can also aid in diagnosing and establishing the cause of vaginitis in your dog.
Treating Vaginitis In Dogs
There is no single drug of choice or treatment plan to cure vaginitis. As mentioned earlier, multiple root causes can be responsible for this condition. So the treatment plan will focus specifically on that cause to relieve the condition.
A thorough diagnosis helps determine the culprit. Once that is known, whether it be a bacteria, a fungus, or other cause, the appropriate treatment plan is determined. For example, if vaginitis is caused by a fungal infection, your conventional vet will give anti-fungal medicines to eliminate the infection, or a holistic vet will likely prescribe herbal or homeopathic remedies. Once the cause is removed, vaginitis resolves quickly.
Your conventional vet may also prescribe medication like corticosteroids and anti-inflammatories to ease the discomfort your dog will be facing because of the disease. Again, your holistic vet will likely prescribe natural remedies for this purpose.
One type of vaginitis known as juvenile vaginitis, occurs in dogs that have not yet achieved puberty and may resolve without any medication once your dog has her first heat cycle upon reaching sexual maturity.
A surgical correction may sometimes be required if a structural abnormality is responsible for vaginitis, like an ectopic ureter.
How To Care For Your Dog With Vaginitis At Home
Care is always more important than the treatment itself, because it not only eases the discomfort that your pet will be feeling but also reduces the chances of complications that can develop if neglected. It also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
Keeping the affected part clean is essential in managing vaginitis. Clean with warm water and dry gently. Due to irritation, your dog may lick or bite the swollen part and irritate the area, so sometimes a cone or inflatable collar or protective medical clothing may be necessary.
Give your dog a soft comfortable place to rest and give the prescribed remedies on time. Visit your vet for follow-up treatment to ensure your dog's full recovery.
When To Seek Veterinary Help
It is true that dogs can live with mild to moderate vaginitis and they may also be playful and energetic … but it’s unwise to neglect this condition, thinking it will go away on its own.
It might appear as a small swelling of the vagina but it is more serious than just a swelling. If not treated promptly, vaginitis can advance to a more severe infection that is painful for your dog and requires prolonged, more expensive treatment. It can also become a life-threatening situation if the tissues start to die. This is known as necrosis, and leads to sepsis infection that spreads through the blood. Also, if your dog bites the swollen area because of irritation, it can lead to blood loss and severe pain. So it’s important to seek medical care as soon as you notice any signs.
Prognosis Of Vaginitis In Dogs
Depending on the cause, vaginitis in dogs can last from days to months. In young dogs, it often resolves after their first heat cycle. But it may recur if a structural abnormality is present, like a hooded or inverted vulva.
Fortunately, conservative treatment is often effective for most cases of vaginitis. Many dogs recover fully within two to three weeks of starting treatment. The prognosis depends on the severity and duration of the condition in cases where the illness is chronic or there are anatomical abnormalities.
Remember that prepubertal vaginitis usually resolves after the first heat cycle, and further treatment is often unnecessary.
Vaginitis is a multifactorial condition that can affect female dogs at any age. Although it is a non-lethal condition, its complications can be fatal if left untreated. It resolves independently in some cases, but others require medical treatment.This treatment is dependent on the underlying cause. Some severe cases may also require surgery. The prognosis is good, and this condition can be fully resolved within weeks with proper treatment and management at home.