Puppy Vaginitis

Signs, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Puppy Vaginitis

Golden Retriever Puppy
Golden Retriever Puppy. Getty / Zoom Pet Photography

About Puppy Vaginitis

Also called juvenile vaginitis, puppy vaginitis is inflammation of the vagina in a puppy that has not reached puberty (i.e., has not gone though a heat cycle).

The cause of puppy vaginitis is not well understood, but it is generally a mild condition.

Risk Factors

Young female dogs who have not gone through a heat cycle. No breed predisposition has been noted. Symptoms can show up as young as 6-8 weeks.

Signs and Symptoms of Puppy Vaginitis

Uncomplicated puppy vaginitis has few signs. Often it is discovered incidentally during a puppy check up. Signs are typically very mild, may come and go, and can include:

  • vaginal discharge (mucous-like, white to yellow, and usually not very heavy)
  • licking at vulva
  • mild irritation of skin around vulva

If there are other signs, such as frequent urination, there is usually something else going on along with, or instead of, puppy vaginitis.

Diagnosis of Puppy Vaginitis

The symptoms and age of the pup will strongly suggest the diagnosis. A visual examination of the inner walls of the vagina will reveal a reddened surface, and a sample of cells from the vagina examined under the microscope will show changes typical for puppy vaginitis.

Your vet may also want to do a variety of other tests to rule out other conditions that may need treatment, such as a urine sample (to check for a urinary tract infection), and a swab of the vagina to check for unusual amounts and types of bacteria which indicate a bacterial infection requiring antibiotic therapy.

Other tests may also be recommended by your vet.

Treating Puppy Vaginitis

In mild cases with no complicating factors such as infections, treatment usually consists only of daily cleaning of the vulva with an unscented baby wipe (or an alcohol-free ear cleaning solution) to help keep the area clean and alleviate any irritation from the discharge.

Antibiotics are only necessary if tests for bacteria revealed a higher than normal or unusual population of bacteria (some bacteria are normally present).

Experts are divided on the question of whether to spay pups with puppy vaginitis before their first heat cycle or let them go through a heat cycle -- this is a question you should discuss with your vet.

Home Care for a Pet with Puppy Vaginitis

Check with your vet if changes in the nature of the discharge are noted, or if any other symptoms appear. As noted above, daily cleaning of the vulva is typically all that is needed until the condition resolves on its own.

Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.