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What is Swelling of the Vulva?

You may notice your dog has a vaginal discharge or that the vulva area is swelling. It could be that your dog is entering the estrus (heat) cycle, whereby swelling is often seen. This phase lasts approximately for three to four weeks and you must be aware your dog can get pregnant during this phase and that male dogs will be attracted to her. Care should be taken during the estrus cycle in unspayed females as pregnancy is always a risk. The estrus cycle is just one of the  reasons why the vulvar area may be swelling.

  • Allergic reaction  
  • Estrus cycle 
  • Labor complications 
  • Forced separation during breeding
  • Infection

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Why Swelling of the Vulva Occurs in Dogs

Allergic Reaction

Your dog may be allergic to the shampoo or other products you are using when grooming. It could also be that you dog has come into contact something that is causing an allergic reaction, such as a plant or bug. The vulva is a sensitive area and can react to insect or poison in plants. Because the cause is unknown, it is best to take your dog to your veterinarian clinic so they can diagnose the condition and prescribe treatment. 

Estrus Cycle

An unspayed female dog will go into the heat or estrus phase for approximately three to four weeks once or twice a year. This is completely normal for your dog. The production of estrogen in this period causes the tissues to expand and face outwards from the vulva. Spaying of your dog will prevent this, and also means that your dog will no longer be able to breed.

Labor Complications 

If your dog is pregnant, then the process of preparing for labor will be signaled by changes in the vulva often construed as swelling. This is normal for the birth process. 

Forced Separation During Breeding

Pulling dogs apart during mating can injure the female – the male dog must ejaculate to break the bond, which will then allow them to separate. 

Infection

 

Urinary tract infections can be a common occurrence among female dogs.  Antibiotics or probiotics can help cure infection and prevent further swelling. Vaginitis is inflammation of the vaginal canal, and there are two types: juvenile (puppy) vaginitis, and adult onset vaginitis. Your veterinarian will prescribe the correct medication to clear the infection up. It is best to catch this problem in its initial stages, as it may need surgical cleaning and draining to correct if left untreated.  

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What to do if your Dog is Swelling of the Vulva

If your dog is a female and she is going into the ‘heat’ phase, you must take extra care of her needs. Her behavior may change and she may become a bit moody or snappy as her body is flooded with hormones. Be aware that male dogs will be attracted to her now, so it will be better to keep her at home. During this stage, she can and will get pregnant, so you must be extra protective if you don’t want a litter of puppies arriving in your home. If you are wanting to breed her, now is the time to consider it. 

If the swelling is an allergic reaction, it can be hard to find the cause. It is advisable to take your dog to the veterinarian so they can help to soothe the itching or inflammation with medication. Usually, with medication the swelling will go down quickly and your dog will be fine. 

During labor preparation for your pregnant dog, you will notice changes to the vulvar area. This is quite normal, but if your dog becomes uneasy, is in pain, or is struggling with the birth then get immediate veterinary assistance to help her through it without injury. 

Forcing dogs apart due to poor planning when your dog is in heat is never a good idea. If you don’t want your dog to get pregnant then keep her away from male dogs and safe at home. Forcing dogs apart during the mating process can cause the female a lot of pain and injury. As the male inserts his penis, the bulbous head expands, literally ‘holding’ him to the female. Wrenching them apart can cause ripping and tearing of the vaginal area, internal injury, and blood loss. The male dog must ejaculate and only then does the bulbous head return to normal to allow him to withdraw easily. 

Bacterial and yeast infections can become a major concern if they are not treated immediately. A quick trip to the veterinarian will save you a lot of concern and for your dog, a lot of irritation. A course of medication will be prescribed, and possibly medicated creams. The infections are easier to treat during the initial stages; don’t wait to see if it gets better, it will only get worse.

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Prevention of Swelling of the Vulva

If your dog is in heat, there is nothing you can do to prevent it other than having your dog spayed. Once your dog is spayed they will never have the heat cycle again but bear in mind they will be unable to breed and produce puppies. For other conditions, it comes down to observation of your dog and acting fast when you know something is not right. Allergies can come from all sorts of things - from food to chemicals, to plants and bugs. A good maintenance procedure is to check your dog regularly for cuts, infections, or lumps and swellings. Doing this during grooming is a quick and effortless way to care for your pet.

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Cost of Swelling of the Vulva

The costs of treatments can vary every between veterinarians within a town, let alone across the country. But to provide a baseline, here are some cost averages. Spaying a female dog is more complicated than neutering a male dog, so you can expect to pay on average $300 or more. External allergy treatments are $150 for simple cases and the price can climb for more advanced conditions. Treatment for infections can cost $300-900, while treatment for delivery problems in a female dog can cost on average $1800. Damage caused by separating mating dogs can have an expense of $1000 to repair rips and tears to the vaginal area.

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Written by a Pugs lover Grace Park

Veterinary reviewed by: Michele K.

Published: 08/07/2017, edited: 03/12/2021

Swelling of the Vulva Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Pomeranian

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Six Years

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Swelling Vagina, Maybe Slight Fever

What do I do? I can’t afford a vet bill, but my poms vagina is swollen and itchy I think and maybe painful! She also might have a slight fever!

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is not spayed, she may be in heat, or she may have a uterine infection. If she is spayed, she may have a bladder or skin infection. If this does not resolve over a few days, then she does need to see a veterinarian, as they will be able to examine her and see what medications she may need.

Oct. 9, 2020

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Mix Maltese & Jack Russel

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Seven Months

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Bleeding And Swollen By Private Area

My puppy is bleeding a bit and her private part is a bit swollen

Sept. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. . She is about the age when she would normally come into heat, if she isn't spayed. If this is still happening, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get treatment for them.

Oct. 17, 2020

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Great Dane

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Eight Years

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Swelling

Hi, my eight-year-old Dane who is not spayed is not in heat but she looks to me swollen and I don’t think that’s the normal color. I just need to know if I am overreacting or if it’s something that needs to be checked out. She’s not acting any different but I’m not sure if this is what she normally looks like.

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. To me, that looks like a fairly standard vulva for a dog in heat. If you are concerned, or she is having any discharge, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 20, 2020

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Pug and poodle

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Eleven Months

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Vaginal Swelling

Why is my pup vaginal area getting swollen?

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. Your pup is the right age to go into heat, and swelling of the vulva is normal if she is not spayed. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Labrador mix

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Nine Months

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Redness

Face swelling

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If your pet is still having problems, it would be best to have them seen by a veterinarian, as they will be able to examine them, see what might be going on, and get any treatment needed.

Oct. 24, 2020

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