Infertility in the female dog


Vaginal infection (Vaginitis)

Bacterial infection of the vagina often spreads to the urinary tract causing a burning sensation on urination and increased frequency in the voiding of urine.  The infection may ascend into the uterus causing a chronic endometritis (see Nov 25; Dec 2).

The main sign of an infection in the vagina is a clear-to-cloudy discharge and staining of the hair around the vulva (the area surrounding the entrance to the vagina).  This is not always seen because many bitches lick themselves clean.  If your bitch seems to lick her vulva excessively, suspect that she may be suffering from a vaginitis.  Also, male dogs seem to be especially attracted to bitches with vaginitis; you will find her urinating often.

Your veterinarian may want to do a vaginal examination to confirm the diagnosis and help rule out a chronic endometritis.

A bitch with vaginitis should not be bred until the infection has been treated and removed.  Infected vaginal secretions are spermicidal thus reducing the amount of sperm cells, which can reach the egg for fertilization to take place.  Just as important, there is a danger of infecting the male.

Juvenile (pre-pubertal – before the dog has reached the age of puberty) vaginitis is seen in puppies six to twenty weeks of age.  The signs are vaginal discharge along with painful urination.

I must mention, against what I have heard being spread, that even spayed bitches can contract this vaginitis ailment.  Further, structural/physical abnormalities of the vagina and the misuse of certain steroids, as well as virus infections (eg herpes) have been associated with this disease.  Also, foreign bodies and/or tumours (growths) in the vagina can precipitate an infection.

Predisposing factors like foreign bodies or anatomical abnormalities have to be removed, if they are present.

If we are dealing with an infection, then administer a vaginal douche (see Nov 25) twice daily for seven continuous days (let your vet advise you how and with what solution the douche must be administered).  The douche must be accompanied with an oral antibiotic.  An appropriate antibiotic can be selected on the basis of cultures and sensitivity tests.  Treat urinary tract infections, if present.  Your vet will advise on those matters.

Vaginitis in puppies is difficult to clear up.  Flush the vagina twice daily with an antibiotic solution.  Estrogen tablets, prescribed by your veterinarian, are of help in difficult cases.  Most puppies with juvenile vaginitis clear up once they go into heat for the first time.

Protrusion of the vagina
(Vaginal  prolapse)

This condition occurs during heat.  It is seen most often in some big breed dogs (eg St Bernards).   It is due to a very marked estrogen-induced swelling of the vagina.  When the vagina no longer can be contained, it protrudes, smooth and shining, out through the vulva, resulting in severe irritation.

Vaginal prolapses tend to recur in subsequent heats.  It is very difficult to breed a dog with this condition, even by artificial insemination.  Often, vaginal prolapses are spontaneously resolved without veterinary intervention.  Nevertheless, let our vet have a look at this unsightly development.

Sometimes, the vagina can be pushed back into place and held with sutures.  This is not always possible.  One treatment is to administer hormones, which take the bitch out of heat quickly.  Treat irritated vaginal surface with an antibiotic ointment or cream, and keep the surface clean and moist.  You may wish to introduce an ‘Elizabethan collar‘ around her neck to prevent self-inflicted wounds on the prolapsed tissue.  Keep male dogs, which are attracted by the hormonal surges, away from the female with a prolapsed vagina.  Of course, a spayed dog can’t have this problem.

(1)  Please do not at all use squibs or other explosive devices during holiday festivities, and definitely not near to dogs and other animals which have a keen sense of hearing.

(2)  It is the Christmas Season, during which puppies are presented as gifts.  Contact your vet and even let him or her accompany you when making the purchase.  Too many inbred puppies (products of incest) with all sorts of deformities (not always visible to the uneducated eye) are being presented for sale.  Also, ascertain whether the vaccinations have been administered (as shown on a very specific Vaccination certificate), and whether the pup is truly a ‘pure‘ breed as advertised.  You will save yourself much agony in the future.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.


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