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.