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Vaginal Abnormalities in Dogs

Vaginal Malformations and Acquired Lesions in Dogs

Vaginal abnormalities in dogs encompass a spectrum of anatomical variations and acquired lesions. These deviations can stem from congenital anomalies like imperforate hymens, where the hymen lacks an opening for normal fluid passage from the uterus or penetration for breeding, typically present from birth. Other congenital anomalies include dorsoventral septa, where the vaginal canal is partitioned vertically by membranous walls, hymenal tightening, cysts containing fluid, and acquired conditions like vaginal overgrowth, presence of foreign bodies, strictures causing narrowing, adhesions with abnormal fibrous tissue binding to structures, and cancerous growths.


  • Discharge from the vulva
  • Excessive licking of the vulva
  • Frequent or inappropriate urination
  • Straining during urination or defecation
  • Accidents in the house or on the bed
  • Increased attractiveness to males
  • Refusal to mate
  • Presence of a mass at the vulva’s lips
  • Skin abnormalities around the vulva
  • Abnormally small vulva


  • Congenital factors
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Cancerous growths


Your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog, considering the history of symptoms and any potential incidents related to the condition. A thorough blood profile will be performed, which includes a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, and electrolyte panel to rule out other diseases. The urinalysis may reveal evidence of a secondary urinary tract infection. Following the initial assessment, your veterinarian will proceed with a gynecological examination.

The sequence of procedures is crucial and is recommended as follows:

  • Vaginal culture to detect secondary infections
  • Vaginal cytology (cell examination) to determine the stage of the estrous cycle and identify inflammatory or cancerous cells
  • Digital examination of the vaginal canal
  • Vaginoscopy: internal examination of the vagina using a small camera
  • Vaginography: X-rays taken after introducing special dyes into the vaginal canal to enhance visualization of the vagina’s shape and structure
  • Ultrasonography, if previous results suggest anatomical abnormalities
  • Positive-contrast Vaginography:
    • Defines structural boundaries of the vagina
    • Identifies strictures, septae, persistent hymens, masses, fistulas, vaginal rupture, and diverticula
  • Excretory urography (X-rays during urination with dyes) to rule out ectopic ureters or bladder abnormalities
  • Abdominal ultrasonography may be necessary
  • Imaging of cranial vaginal masses if present
  • Detection of fluid buildup in the vagina (hydrocolpos) or uterus (hydrometra) in cases of imperforate hymen, obstructing fluid flow from the uterus.


  • Manual dilation of closed hymens or mild vaginal narrowing over several sessions under anesthesia. While it may alleviate the issue, it doesn’t fully resolve clinical signs.
  • Surgery to correct minor congenital and acquired lesions.
  • Spaying to address clinical signs, especially evident during estrus (heat), in non-breeding patients.
  • Removal of the vagina and ovariohysterectomy in non-breeding patients to address severe vaginitis occurring at any stage of the estrous cycle.

Living and Management

In rare instances, a dog may be diagnosed with a hereditary vaginal malformation. If multiple dogs within a family lineage exhibit similar clinical signs of such malformations, it’s advisable to spay them all to prevent passing on the trait to future litters. For animals with non-hereditary vaginal malformations, breeding via artificial insemination may be an option. In such cases, planned cesarean sections can facilitate safe birthing.

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