How to Clean a Female Dog's Vulva

Easy
5 - 15 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Your dog’s vulva is a tender part of her body. When she goes into heat, you might see discharge or blood coming from the area. She might lick a lot to clean herself, but it’s also important that you help her stay clean and sanitary during this time. You may notice her vulva swelling, especially during heat cycles. This is normal and doesn’t require any extra attention. A simple wipe or bath will often do the trick, but while she has discharge, you may also consider keeping her bedding clean and keeping her at home and isolated, especially from intact male dogs.

Dog's Perspective

Her body is changing during heat cycles, and your dog might be curious. Excessive licking could cause dryness and itching. She might feel a bit off because of hormone changes. This may show in her mood. 

The Bathing Method

Most Recommended
12 Votes
Shampoo
Towel
Step
1
In the bath
While your dog is in the bath, use a washcloth to wipe her private areas, including her vulva to get it clean.
Step
2
Face first
Always start with your dog's face, so bacteria from others parts of her body do not cross to the face.
Step
3
Sit in water
If your dog has discharge or is in heat, sitting in the water while you wash her body and face might help remove any stains from her skin and fur. Keep the temperature comfortable. If her skin is irritated, water that is too warm may hurt.
Step
4
End with vulva
After your dog’s face and body have been washed, use the washcloth to wipe her vulva. Remove any dried blood or discharge. If she’s swollen, she might be sensitive, so be cautious not to rub too hard with the washcloth.
Step
5
Rinse and dry
Be sure to rinse any dog shampoo off her entire body to avoid dry, itchy skin. With a towel, pat her dry.
Recommend grooming method?

The Wipe and Treat Method

Effective
2 Votes
Towel
Step
1
Vinegar and water
Mix half and half vinegar and warm water in a small bowl.
Step
2
Soft cloth
Once the water and vinegar are mixed, soak a washcloth or soft cloth in the mixture, absorbing what you can into the cloth. You can squeeze excess out so the cloth is not dripping, or allow the excess to drip onto the dog’s skin.
Step
3
Wipe
Gently wipe the vulva from front to back. The vinegar will work on killing yeast and some bacteria.
Step
4
Dry
With a dry cloth, gently pat dry. Allowing the area to air dry is fine as well, but keep your dog from licking as it dries. She likely won’t enjoy the taste of vinegar.
Step
5
Treat
If her skin is dry and uncomfortable, or if she is not in heat but is licking too often, apply coconut oil to her skin to soothe the itch.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If your dog is not in heat and her vulva is showing discharge, consider seeing your veterinarian.
  • A swollen vulva is normal during a heat cycle.
  • She may be self-cleaning by licking, but excessive licking can cause dry, itchy skin which will irritate even more.
  • Dogs can develop yeast infections that can cause itching and discomfort. 
  • If your little girl pup has a yeast infection or other infection in the vulva area, you may also notice an unpleasant odor. 
  • Apple cider vinegar and water can help reduce yeast if your girl pup is experiencing a yeast problem. 
  • If she gets yeast infections often, adding yogurt or kefir to her diet might help yeast from growing.
  • A daily vinegar and water wipe down might be necessary for the dog who has chronic yeast infections.
  • If her skin is dry and irritated from excessive licking, 100% coconut oil from your kitchen can help soothe her skin. It is okay if she licks the coconut oil off, you just may need to reapply. 
  • Bathing your pup on a regular basis should also help with keeping all areas clean. Be sure to wash her face with a cloth before using it to wash her vulva and backside. 

Conclusion

Caring for and cleaning your dog's vulva isn't much different than cleaning the rest of her body. You should know if she's in heat and the way her vulva will change during this time. When she's not in heat, a regular bath and self-cleaning work just fine unless she's itchy and irritated. This could signify a yeast infection, which can also be easily treated.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Mini
Cane Corso
11 Months
3 found helpful
Question
3 found helpful
Mini
Cane Corso
11 Months

We give mini baths every month but she tends to turn brownish by her vulva. She has been spayed already. What or how do I do to keep her from having that??

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi Cathy Ann, thank you for your question. You have cute dogs! As for Mini's brown staining in the area around the vulva, I would recommend a visit to the veterinarian to rule out anything like infection or injury. Sometimes the staining can be caused by something as simple as Mini's saliva (from licking the area) turning brown when exposed to the air. Then, we have to wonder why she is licking the area so much? At the vet visit, you can inquire as to how to keep the area clean after they rule out a health problem. All the best to Mini!

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Question
Daphne
Cavapoo
8 Years
2 found helpful
Question
2 found helpful
Daphne
Cavapoo
8 Years

Her vulva area has dark brown spots I can’t get rid of. I shampoo that area with silvet mc shampoo that the vet recommended. They won’t come off the worst is right on the vulva vaginal what’s supposed to be an open area. Help

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for inquiring about Daphne's problem. I would contact the vet to be sure. I looked up the directions and I see that the shampoo may take a few weeks to work as I believe it is used for a fungal problem. Don't overuse it just in case, but definitely check with the vet for verification of the directions in Daphne's case, and to see how long the vet feels it will take for the problem to be cleared up. All the best!

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Question
shadow
Labrador akita
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
shadow
Labrador akita
5 Years

it says you use coconut oil to soothe your dogs skin can we use coconut oil we use for our hair?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I think giving your vet a quick call is the best idea so you can give them the details on the skin issue. That is my recommendation. I have also provided a link here for more information on coconut oil. https://wagwalking.com/wellness/does-coconut-oil-have-benefits-for-dogs. All the best to Shadow!

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Question
Delilah
Bulldog chow
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Delilah
Bulldog chow
7 Years

So the right side of Delilahs vulva is swollen and red but the left side has a bump on it. What do I do without taking her to emergency

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I think it is best to call your vet as there could be any number of reasons for the problem and you don't want Delilah to be in pain. We do have an option "ask a vet." Take a look here to pose your question. But don't delay: https://wagwalking.com/wag-health. Good luck and all the best to Delilah!

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Question
Estrella
Pit bull
5 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Estrella
Pit bull
5 Years

How do you clip her nails? And how often are you supposed to bathe her? And her breath is stinky how can I fix that?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hello, it's best to clip Estrella's nails when you hear them clicking when she walks. This can be anywhere from every two weeks to once a month, depending on how fast they grow. If they are extra long right now, start with trimming the ends only. Then next week trim them a bit again, and again the week after that. Then move to 2 to 4 weeks. This guide has good tips: https://wagwalking.com/grooming/trim-a-difficult-dogs-nails. As for bathing, don't bathe her more than once a month. It depends really, on how dirty she gets - if she's a typically clean dog, every couple of months should be fine. In between, if you want to clean her, use pet wipes. They do a great job and are gentle on the skin. Here is a guide on bad breath: https://wagwalking.com/wellness/how-to-prevent-bad-dog-breath. Estrella's teeth (from the photos) look good, so keep them that way by brushing her teeth with a dog-safe toothpaste (NEVER human toothpaste as it could be toxic). When you take Estrella for her checkup, ask the vet to check her teeth and let them know her breath is bad. She could have a tooth or teeth that need cleaning or fixing. All the best to Estrella!

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Grooming Success Stories

Success
Luna
Cava-poo
9 Weeks

So picked up our puppy to tge happy surprise she wasn't 8 weeks but 7 and had puppy vaginitus (confirmed by the vet and swab test). I got probiotic snd put apple cider vinegar or lemon in her water and 2ml of live bio yoghurt 2 times a day. Happy dof in 2 days. Also cleaned hef every wee and poo. Great advice. From new pup parent.

1 year, 10 months ago
I’m going to try this my 4 month old puggle is also experiencing this
I think I may be having the same issue my pup will be 9 weeks old on Friday but we got her at 7 weeks too. She also seems to be peeing more frequently and while she is waking as it’s usually a line on the floor this is the first day I’ve noticed this change.
Success
Zoe
Yorkshire Terrier
6 Years

I just used ALCALA body wipes I got from Amazon to clean her potty area. Which if it stays wet (pee) can start to get dark spots. Really soft made of bamboo and premoistened with aloe and tea tree. Nice scent. Worked great. Also been using REMEDY antifungal powder for jock itch but used on her area clean scent.

4 months, 3 weeks ago
Is Teatree bad for dogs?
Tea tree oil is often found in varying concentrations and high concentrations should never be used on pets. As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning, and applications of 10-20 mls of 100% oil have resulted in poisoning and death in both dogs and cats.
Is Teatree bad for dogs?
Tea tree oil is often found in varying concentrations and high concentrations should never be used on pets. As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning, and applications of 10-20 mls of 100% oil have resulted in poisoning and death in both dogs and cats.
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