Puppy vaginitis is a sticky, cloudy, white or yellowish vaginal discharge. Puppy vaginitis usually occurs in puppies that are six weeks to about 8 months of age. Episodes can occur intermittently, and can last for weeks to months.
Most puppies don’t show any signs, but others may lick their vulva a lot and develop perivulvar dermatitis. Sometimes the
hair coat outside the vagina gets crusty. Some puppies have a lot of discharge and some don’t. Cytologic examination of the discharge will show suppurative inflammation. Your veterinarian will need to perform enough diagnostics to rule out more significant causes of vulvar discharge and feel comfortable with the diagnosis of benign puppy vaginitis.
While other causes (a bladder infection or an anatomical abnormality) of vaginal discharge in puppies call for medical treatment, basic puppy vaginitis is more an annoyance than a medical concern. The important thing is to differentiate between puppy vaginitis and a more serious problem.
Treatment of puppy vaginitis is mainly time and patience. You can remove globs of discharge with a wet baby wipe to keep the vulvar area clean. Douching, antibiotics, or a lot of diagnostics are not appropriate for a puppy that has no symptoms other than discharge. Puppy vaginitis usually goes away on its own, once the dog reaches puberty. Your veterinarian will advise what is best in your puppy’s case.
Becky Lundgren, DVM
Vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina, usually due to bacterial infection. The main clinical signs are a pus-like discharge, licking of the genitals, attraction of male dogs, a foul odor and swelling of the vulva.
Vaginitis can occur due to defects in vaginal structure, foreign objects, a weak immune system often true in young and immature puppies and lower urinary tract infections. Diagnosis is based on physical findings, vaginal cytology, urinalysis, blood counts, culture of vaginal exudates, X-rays and ultrasound.
TREATMENT OF VAGINITIS
If there is an obvious predisposing cause of the vaginitis such as a foreign object, that should be corrected first. Oral antibiotics plus twice-daily douches with disinfectant solutions are most commonly used. Long-term treatment is required in some cases as the infections can be moderately resistant to treatment. Puppies may improve the most as they get closer to puberty.