Vaginal Hyperplasia and Prolapse
Vaginal hyperplasia is an exaggerated swelling of the vaginal lining that occurs during proestrus and estrus in response to the influence of estrogen. When the swollen vaginal mucosa can no longer be contained within the vagina, it bulges through the vaginal lips.
The principal sign is the protrusion of a tongue-shaped mass through the vulva. Other signs include painful urination and excessive licking at the vulva.
Vaginal Eversion - In rare cases, the first part of the dog's vagina everts (spills out) just before she begins to deliver her puppies. You will see a gruesome red ball of tissue at the vaginal opening. Once it comes out, the tissue swells and may actually block the birth of the puppies.
This is a medical emergency. The dog may need a cesarean sction (C-section) to deliver her puppies. Delaying treatment may endanger both the pups and the mother dog.
The influence of estrogen during the estrus cycle (period/heat) causes the swelling of the vaginal lining.
The protruding mass prevents mating. Vaginal hyperplasia occurs most often in young female dogs of the larger breeds - particularly Boxers and St. Bernards. Severe hyperplasia may progress to prolapse. In a dog with vaginal prolapse, the apex of the vagina drops out through the vulva, resembling a lifesaver-shaped mass. This can be mistaken for a vaginal tumor.
Vaginal prolapse can also be caused by prolonged straining, such as that associated with anorectal obstructions and difficult labor and delivery. Another cause of vaginal prolapse is forcefully separating dogs during the tie (mating).
Diagnosis is obtained by examining symptoms.
Vaginal hyperplasia subsides after the heat cycle but tends to recur with each new cycle. For mild hyperplasia, no treatment is necessary other than to keep the vaginal membranes clean and well lubricated with antibiotic ointment to prevent drying.
If this female is to be bred, artificial insemination is the method of choice. If breeding is not intended, the dog should be spayed. This will cure the problem.
For severe hyperplasia or vaginal prolapse, it may be possible for your veterinarian to push the everted tissue back into the vagina and hold it in place with sutures until it regresses ofter the heat cycle. Surgical excision may be required to remove devitalized tissue and prevent hyperplasia during future cycles.
Spaying your dog will cure this problem.
Once vaginal prolapse is treated, it won't happen again unless your dog gives birth again. Most of the time, your veterinarian will recommend that your dog be spayed to prevent this. If your dog has chewed on her vagina, spay surgery is the only treatment option. Watch your pet to be sure that she doesn't lick or bite the incision area until it is completely healed. Cone collars are especially helpful here.
Show Sources & Contributors +
Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook
Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007
Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD
The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats
Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001
Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM