Despite the fact that most client-owned pets in the United States are neutered, you will come across disorders of the genitourinary
tract in your practice. Chronic vaginitis, which is often seen in female dogs that have undergone an ovariectomy, is one that
you should be ready to handle.
Autumn Davidson, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Affected dogs will have variable vulvar discharge, which is often mucoid to hemorrhagic or purulent, usually accompanied by
licking, scooting, and pollakiuria. Perivulvar and vulvar dermatitis are also frequently present.
Tomas Baker, MS
Five common causes
Chronic vaginitis develops for multiple reasons, and the primary cause is often masked and exacerbated by previous therapies
such as long-term antimicrobial therapy, self mutilation, and topical irrigations.
Vaginal mucosal biopsy frequently shows nonspecific lymphocytic-plasmacytic inflammation, but sometimes suppurative (neutrophilic)
or eosinophilic inflammation is predominant. Primary bacterial vaginitis is rare.
Vaginal cultures can show overgrowth of an atypical bacterial species (pure gram-negative cultures, resistant organisms, Pseudomonas species) or pure culture of Mycoplasma species if antibiotics have been used extensively. Occasionally, a yeast overgrowth is identified.
In your affected patients, consider these five causes:
1. Extensive perivulvar dermatitis associated with redundant dorsal and lateral vulvar folds
2. A granulomatous uterine stump (note: be sure to rule out stump pyometra)
3. Vaginal foreign bodies such as foxtails or bone fragments
4. Chronic urinary tract infection with urethritis, vestibulitis, or vulvitis
5. Cystic, urethral, vaginal, or vestibular neoplasia
We also often see vaginal strictures, but they are not usually causal. Most cases are idiopathic.