Canine vaginitis is an inflammation of the vagina that typically occurs in older females, though it can happen to dogs of any age and any breed. It can be caused by a variety of factors and is sometimes an indication of pregnancy, kidney infection or more serious health issues. In mild cases of vaginitis, no treatment may be required. Some young dogs who develop vaginitis prior to reaching maturity will be relieved of the disorder following first heat, or after being spayed.
Canine vaginitis can be caused by an abscess, fecal contamination, injury or urinary problems such as bladder infections. The disease usually presents with inflammation and redness; your dog may excessively lick the area in an effort to relieve discomfort. Your vet will likely perform a physical exam that includes an internal vaginal probe. Urinalysis and blood work are also likely; if the doctor feels the vaginitis is caused by an obstruction or a problem with your pup’s reproductive system, he may perform X-ray or ultrasounds, too.
If a bacterial infection is present, your vet may suggest antibiotics to treat the vaginitis. This is especially likely if the underlying cause is a bladder infection. Prolonged antibiotics can lead to yeast infection, which can in turn make vaginitis worse, so your vet may use these drugs selectively. He may alternatively prescribe an antifungal medication to treat or prevent yeast infection development.
Your vet may prescribe a topical antiseptic wipe to relieve redness and irritation externally. He may also prescribe an anti-itch or antibacterial cream to help reduce swelling and to relieve pain and itching. Depending on the severity of the condition and how much your dog is licking the area, your dog might have to wear an Elizabethan collar. This neck cone guards against excessive licking, allowing the medicine to effectively absorb into the skin and for the area to heal undisturbed.
Swelling and inflammation from vaginitis may be treated using steroids, either orally or applied topically. This can help reduce puffiness, irritation and reduce discharge. Your vet may recommend you change soaps or use shampoos to reduce the potential for vaginal irritation. Such measures can help soothe the discomfort of existing vaginitis as well as help guard against future occurrences.
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