Vaginal discharge is the appearance of liquid material (other than urine) from the labia of the vulva (the external female genitals). Vaginal discharge may be clear and watery (serous), bloody, thick and gray (mucousy), yellow/green (purulent), or dark green/black (after giving birth). The discharge may or may not have an odor. Licking at the vulva may also be noted.Vaginal discharge, depending on the type and circumstances, may be considered normal in some cases. However, its presence may also signify a disease process of the urinary tract or reproductive tract.
Vaginal discharge is a normal part of the heat cycle of the intact female dog. Bloody discharge occurs for several days when the bitch is in heat (in estrus).
Vaginal discharge is also a normal finding in the immediate postpartum (after birth) period.
A dark green to black discharge is often present for several days, and traces of discharge may persist for up to 3 weeks.
When the placental sites do not recede in the bitch after birth, then a persistent watery and sometimes bloody discharge may occur. This type of discharge is abnormal.
Any discharge that occurs during a pregnancy is potentially abnormal.
Urogenital tract infections, such as a urinary tract infection or an infected uterus (pyometra), may result in an opaque purulent discharge from the vulva.
Neoplasia (cancer) of the urogenital tract may cause bloody, mucousy or purulent vaginal discharge.
Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina) may give rise to watery or mucousy discharge.
Coagulation (clotting) disorders that result in abnormal bleeding may produce a bloody discharge that can be difficult to distinguish from blood in the urine (hematuria).
Trauma or the presence of a foreign body in the vagina may result in bloody, watery or purulent discharge.
Urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine in the bladder) secondary to an abnormal location (ectopic) of the ureter, or a problem with the bladder sphincter (the muscle that acts like a valve at the opening of the bladder) may result in pooling of urine in the vagina and secondary irritation and discharge.
A defect and open communication (fistula) between the rectum and vagina may lead to the passage of watery fecal material from the vagina.
What to Watch For
Vaginal discharge of any type other than the normal stream of urine
Attracting male dogs
Excessive licking of the vagina
Scooting the bottom along the floor
Increased urination and/or straining to urinate
Lethargy, fever, increased thirst
It is important to obtain a complete medical history and to perform a thorough physical examination. Additional tests may include:
A complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and urinalysis
A urine culture to rule out a bacterial urinary tract infection
Culture of the vaginal discharge
Abdominal radiographs (X-ray) to assess the uterus and pelvis
Vaginoscopy, which is examination of the vagina through a rigid or flexible viewing scope
Cytology and biopsy of any abnormal tissue in the vagina
Serologic tests for brucellosis and herpesvirus
Intravenous dye study of the kidneys and ureters to identify any abnormalities in the location of the ureters
A coagulation profile if bloody discharge may be related to a clotting problem
Vaginal discharges that are considered normal for the dog do not require treatment. In addition, mild vaginitis that is sometimes present in young puppies often resolves spontaneously once the dog is spayed or has passed through its first heat.Other causes of vaginal discharge are more serious and require specific therapy, depending upon the cause. Examples of such therapy include:
Surgical removal of an infected uterus, a vaginal foreign body, or a uterine or vaginal tumor
Surgical correction of any congenital defects of the ureters, the walls of the vagina or rectum
Antibiotics for urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginitis, and following trauma
Corrective therapy for any bleeding disorders
Chemotherapy for selected tumors of the vagina or external genitalia, e.g. transmissible venereal tumor, lymphosarcoma, transitional cell carcinoma
Avoidance of breeding the bitch while she has vaginal dischargeHome CareAdminister all prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian. Observe your pet closely. If the clinical signs are not improving or are getting worse, contact your veterinarian at once.