Canine vaginitis is a complex condition with two main distinctions: juvenile vaginitis and adult onset vaginitis. Understanding the differences between the two and working in conjunction with your veterinarian are crucial in effectively treating the condition and working to prevent recurrence. Veterinary guidance along with holistic home remedies can be a winning combination.
Understanding Canine Vaginitis
Juvenile (or puppy) vaginitis commonly occurs in female dogs between 6 weeks and 8 months old and often resolves on its own by the time dogs reach maturity. Symptoms include a vaginal discharge that is white/yellow, sticky and opaque. The condition can resolve and return intermittently until the dog reaches puberty (at which time it often goes away). It is important to consult with your vet to determine the cause (specifically to rule out any more serious conditions that could be causing the discharge).
In the case of adult onset vaginitis, it is important to determine any underlying causes like incontinence, abnormalities in the anatomy, obesity-induced fat folds over the vulva or urinary tract infections (which are commonly linked to the condition). In cases of bacterial infections and UTIs, antibiotic therapy may be needed to properly treat the condition. Vaginal anomalies can create a condition in which urine pools and irritates the delicate mucosal lining of the vagina. This may require surgical repair depending on the severity of the condition.
Home Remedies for Prevention
Home remedies may help to prevent recurrence of your dog's symptoms. Treatment for puppy vaginitis is mainly simple cleansing the area (twice a day) with either baby wipes or a warm washcloth with diluted puppy shampoo (be sure to rinse well). Be sure to minimise your puppy's exposure to toxins, chemicals and pesticides (these can irritate delicate tissue) and keep all bedding clean. Quality nutrition will also help to support healthy immune function and your puppy's ability to fight infection. To help prevent adult vaginitis, it is imperative to maintain a healthy diet and optimal weight; obese dogs can develop folds over the vulva, which can create a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Keeping the hair around the genitals clipped will help along with keeping a watchful eye for any plant materials that could enter the vagina.
Home Remedies for Treatment
Treating an active infection on your own can definitely be effective, but it is important to note that if your dog is experiencing severe symptoms and/or does not improve with home treatment, contact your vet for further guidance and treatment options. The goal is twofold: to kill the bacteria causing the condition and to reduce inflammation. There are homeopathic solutions for killing bacteria like tea tree oil (which has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties).
Tea tree oil should be used topically, and always dilute it to avoid irritating the skin (dilute 1 tsp of tea tree oil in 1 cup of water). Apply externally to the affected area.
Echinacea is widely considered to be a safe supplement that boosts the immune system and can be quite useful in treating bacterial infections. Probiotics (like lactobacillus or acidophilus) are healthy bacteria that can aid in preventing the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Other herbs like marshmallow, myrrh, goldenseal, black cohosh, Coptic, calendula, gossyplum and comfrey leaf have been recommended to use as part of a douche (twice daily) or sitz bath.