Ask a vet: how to treat vaginitis in dogs

Although it’s uncommon, vaginitis can happen at any stage of your dog’s life. We checked in with Dr. Sam Kovac of Southern Cross veterinary clinic to learn the basics of this ailment.

Vaginitis is a catch-all term for vaginal inflammation. There are two main types of vaginitis in dogs: juvenile vaginitis, which occurs in female puppies that haven’t reached puberty, and adult-onset vaginitis, which occurs in mature female dogs. This ailment is rare, but it’s important to know the signs and treatments in case it ever afflicts your canine companion. Read on for some valuable info from Veterinarian Dr. Sam Kovac.

Q: What are the symptoms of vaginitis?

A: Even though vaginitis in dogs can be a “silent” cause of suffering, there are some clear symptoms to watch out for. If your dog is scooting her bottom on the ground, licking excessively, weeing more often than normal, or peeing inside even though she’s house trained, you could be looking at a case of canine vaginitis. Other symptoms include a visible red rash around her labia, swelling, pus, or a bad odor.

The pain caused by this ailment can cause behavioral issues as well. If your dog isn’t acting like herself and you’re noticing other symptoms, it’s important to seek treatment right away.

Q: Are there holistic treatments for this ailment?

A: Feeding fresh probiotics helps some dogs, as does through cleaning with simple unscented baby wipes followed by powdering with cornstarch (not talc). If you try this approach, you’ll need to have your dog fitted with a cone or padded neck collar to prevent excessive licking, which will make matters worse.

Some dogs benefit from a diet change, particularly in cases where acidity is causing a problem. While holistic treatments can help, it’s vital to have your dog seen by your vet – partly because other issues including colitis and cancer can mimic vaginitis.

Q: How do vets treat vaginitis in dogs?

A: Every case is different but in general, a culture will be obtained to determine whether the vaginitis is fungal or bacterial, so antifungals and/or antibiotics can be administered. Your dog might need to have her anal glands expressed, as they can sometimes contribute to vaginitis.

Your vet will also check for underlying issues including allergies, tumors, and urinary tract stones since these problems can be interrelated. Additionally, your vet will check the dog’s vaginal structure as dogs with recessed vulvas can have problems with recurring vaginitis.

In some severe cases, vaginitis calls for surgery to remove excess skin and fat around the vulva, which can lead to trapped moisture and bacterial buildup that leads to frequent infections. The surgery is called an episioplasty, and its success rate is near 100 percent.

Q: What can happen if a dog’s vaginitis goes untreated?

A: Untreated vaginitis can contribute to urinary tract infections, incontinence, bladder infections, and swelling of the urinary tract, which makes urination difficult and leaves your dog in immense pain.

Q: Should I be worried about humans or other pets catching it from my dog?

A: It’s very uncommon. But since bacteria can be spread anywhere, it’s important to keep your dog’s vaginal area clean, and to ensure that you wash your hands well after handling her. Other pets shouldn’t be allowed to come into contact with your dog’s vaginal area; for example, if she’s unaltered and in heat, you’ll want to take extra precautions to keep males away.


Emma Williams is a professional writer and pet parent who has written for big publishers including Canadian Dogs Annual, The Telegraph, Home Beautiful and She enjoys sharing her knowledge on pet health, lifestyle topics and pet behavior.