Whether or not your female dog is spayed, she could come down with vaginal inflammation, or vaginosis. It's not a condition with any particular breed or age predisposition. Also known as vaginitis, treatment depends on the cause of the inflammation. It's not unusual for the condition to simply resolve itself.
While the most obvious symptom of vaginosis is vulvar discharge, affected dogs might urinate frequently. Your well-trained dog might start having small accidents in the house. Because of the discomfort, she's likely to constantly lick her privates, or occasionally scoot across the floor. Even though she's not in heat, she could attract the attention of intact male dogs because of the vaginal discharge.
Your vet will collect vaginal and urine samples to see what kind of bacterium is causing your dog's distress. Some symptoms of vaginosis mimic those of other female canine conditions, including the first stages of estrus. Because anatomical abnormalities can also cause vaginosis, your vet will perform a physical examination of your dog's vagina or use a vaginoscope to view it internally. She might conduct an ultrasound to see if a tumor or foreign object is in the vagina. Since vaginosis can cause fertility issues, have testing done before breeding your dog.
Urinary tract infections cause the majority of cases of vaginitis. Since the female urethra and vagina are close together, infected urine easily contaminates the latter organ. If caused by infection, your vet will prescribe antibiotics and possibly flush out the vagina with antiseptics. If a mass or foreign body is found, surgical removal is necessary, with the prognosis depending on whether the tumor is malignant or the strange item caused internal damage. In intact females, the surgery includes spaying. Underlying diseases, including diabetes and Cushing's disease, can also cause vaginitis. In these cases, primary treatment in the form of insulin therapy and dietary changes for diabetes and medication for Cushing's disease usually clear up the vaginitis.
Vaginosis occurring in puppies -- those females between the ages of 2 months and 8 months but haven't experienced their first heat -- usually doesn't require treatment. Most cases of juvenile vaginitis run their course and resolve on their own. Clean your puppy's genital area with baby wipes to get rid of discharge, so it doesn't collect on her skin and become crusty. If the condition doesn't clear up within a week or so, take her to the vet.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.