Puppy Vaginitis

Puppy vaginitis is a frustrating medical problem that is first noticed around 8 to 12 weeks of age.  Signs include licking of the vulva, frequent urination and a thick vaginal discharge that coats the hair around the vulva.  The frequent urination makes these girls difficult to housebreak.  To diagnosis this condition, I perform a thorough vaginal exam looking for abnormalities of the vagina.  Usually, the only abnormality I find is dramatically inflamed vaginal mucosa.  I may also perform a urinalysis, culture of the vagina or culture of the urine depending upon the individual case. 

Unfortunately, there is a persistent belief that puppy vaginitis is more of a nuisance than a real medical problem.  I disagree!  In my experience, these girls are uncomfortable and I always treat them based on their test results.  If they are not already spayed, I recommend allowing a puppy with vaginitis to have one heat cycle to stimulate cell turnover in the vagina.  If the puppy is already spayed, I sometimes use oral estrogen to replicate a heat cycle. 

To repeat, puppy vaginitis may lead to difficulty in housebreaking.  The common history is a puppy who was doing well and then suddenly starts urinating in the house.  If you observe this, please bring your puppy in for a veterinary exam.  The puppy is not having accidents to punish you for leaving her alone. This is a genuine medical condition and fortunately, is treatable.    


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.