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Vaginal Discharge in Dogs

What Is Vaginal Discharge in Dogs?

Vaginal discharge in female dogs may manifest as clear, bloody, viscous, or thick yellow or white fluid. It’s crucial for your veterinarian to accurately diagnose your dog’s condition to provide effective treatment.

Unspayed female dogs often experience heat-related discharge, which can be messy for pet owners. However, apart from this situation, vaginal discharge in dogs is relatively uncommon. Doggy diapers can be used by pet parents if necessary.

Various serious health issues can lead to vaginal discharge in dogs. Therefore, it’s essential for your veterinarian to assess your dog’s condition to ensure proper treatment is administered.


Vaginal discharge can occur in both spayed and unspayed female dogs. Alongside discharge, a dog experiencing a vaginal or vulvar condition may show the following symptoms:

  • Blood spotting
  • Licking the perineal region
  • Swelling or redness around the vulva
  • Scooting of the hind end
  • Increased frequency of urination


Vaginal discharge in dogs can stem from various factors, including:

  1. Heat cycle: Unspayed female dogs undergo heat approximately every six months, often displaying a bloody discharge from their vulva during this period.

  2. Pyometra: This uterine infection commonly affects older unspayed female dogs. While rare, spayed females can also develop pyometra if uterine remnants remain after their spay procedure. Pyometra-associated discharge typically carries a foul-smelling odor, resembling fish. It’s considered a veterinary emergency due to its potential fatality.

  3. Vaginitis: Vaginal inflammation can occur in female puppies and adults, affecting both spayed and unspayed females, though it’s more prevalent in spayed ones.

  4. Urinary tract infection (UTI): Some dogs with UTIs may exhibit vulvar discharge.

  5. Vaginal trauma: Trauma to the vaginal area, often during mating, can lead to discharge.

  6. Brucellosis: This bacterial infection commonly induces persistent vaginal discharge and can be transmitted to humans.

  7. Foreign body: Presence of foreign objects, like wild grass bristles, lodged inside the vagina, can result in discharge.

  8. Pregnancy loss: Dogs experiencing pregnancy loss typically display vaginal discharge ranging from brown, green, black, or yellow, often accompanied by a foul odor.

  9. Retained placenta: Failure to expel the placenta during birthing can lead to vaginal discharge.

  10. Tumor: Uterine or vaginal tumors may induce discharge.


To ensure effective treatment for your pup, your veterinarian will need to pinpoint the cause of your dog’s vaginal discharge.

In addition to obtaining a detailed health history from you regarding your pup and conducting a thorough physical examination, your vet may suggest the following diagnostic tests:

  1. Bloodwork: A complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry profile provide insight into your dog’s overall health and can identify any infections. Further blood testing might be recommended if brucellosis is suspected.

  2. Urinalysis and urine culture: A urinalysis can detect urinary tract infections (UTIs). If necessary, a urine culture can pinpoint the causative agent.

  3. Vaginal cytology and culture: Vaginal cytology aids in assessing abnormal cell presence and infection. A culture identifies the specific pathogen, facilitating targeted treatment.

  4. X-rays: X-rays may be required to examine internal organs for any abnormalities contributing to the vaginal discharge.

  5. Ultrasound: This noninvasive imaging method helps evaluate your dog’s uterus and adjacent structures, providing additional diagnostic information.


Vaginal discharge in dogs can stem from various causes, some of which can be life-threatening, while others are less severe. Depending on the underlying issue, your dog’s treatment plan may include:

  1. Surgery: If your dog has pyometra, surgical removal of the ovaries and infected uterus may be necessary. Surgery might also be required to address a retained placenta or fetus. Additionally, dogs suffering from vulvar fold dermatitis may benefit from surgical removal of excess skinfolds in the area.

  2. Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics may be prescribed for dogs with a urinary tract infection (UTI) or vaginal infection. Antibiotics are also necessary if your dog is diagnosed with brucellosis, although complete eradication of the bacteria may not be achievable.

  3. Vaginal douches: In cases of vaginitis, your veterinarian may recommend vaginal douching using a diluted chlorhexidine or povidone-iodine solution.

Recovery and Management

The recovery of your dog depends on the underlying cause of her vaginal discharge. Recovery outcomes for specific issues include:

  1. Pyometra: If addressed promptly, most dogs recover well after undergoing an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the uterus and ovaries). However, recurrence is likely if your dog remains unspayed.

  2. Juvenile vaginitis: Cases affecting puppies typically resolve without treatment.

  3. Adult-onset vaginitis: With proper treatment, most cases resolve within two to three weeks. Dog diapers can aid in keeping your dog clean until the discharge clears up.

  4. Vulvar fold dermatitis: Topical treatment alone may lead to recurrence. However, for dogs undergoing surgery to remove excess skinfolds, the prognosis is excellent once the surgical sites heal. A recovery collar should be worn by dogs who have undergone skinfold surgery to prevent licking of the area.


While certain causes of vaginal discharge cannot be prevented, having your female dog spayed substantially decreases the likelihood of pyometra. Additionally, spaying helps prevent issues such as retained placenta and pregnancy loss in your pup.

Vaginal Discharge in Dogs FAQs

Is it normal for a female dog to have vaginal discharge?

Unspayed female dogs commonly have a bloody vaginal discharge during their heat cycle. However, if you’re unsure whether your dog’s discharge is due to her heat cycle, it’s advisable to consult your veterinarian.

What are the early signs of pyometra in dogs?

Early indicators of pyometra in dogs comprise lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, vaginal discharge, and excessive licking of the hind end.

What does it mean if my female dog has discharge after urination?

If your dog exhibits vulvar discharge following urination, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian. This symptom could indicate a urinary tract infection (UTI), vaginitis, or another medical condition necessitating treatment.

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