Recessed Vulva in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Have you ever heard of a recessed vulva in dogs? This unique condition, also known as a hooded vulva, occurs when there is extra skin that surrounds and folds over the vulva. While it may seem like a minor cosmetic issue, a recessed vulva can lead to various health problems for female dogs. In this article, we will delve deeper into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition.

What Is a Recessed Vulva in Dogs?

A recessed vulva occurs when there is a fold of extra skin around the vulva, which can trap moisture and create a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Female dogs with a hooded vulva are more prone to developing vaginal and urinary tract infections. Bacteria that grow within the skin fold can migrate to the bladder and cause urinary tract infections. Additionally, yeast infections are more common in dogs with hooded vulvas.

Symptoms of Recessed Vulva in Dogs

While some dogs may not exhibit any symptoms, others may experience chronic vaginitis and recurring urinary tract infections. Signs of infection include moist, red, or black skin around the vulva and an unpleasant odor. Dogs with infected skin may excessively lick their vulva due to itchiness and discomfort. They may also scoot their rear end along the floor in an attempt to alleviate the itchiness.

If a dog with a recessed vulva has a urinary tract infection, common symptoms include urinating more frequently, drinking more water, urinary accidents in the house, straining to urinate, and bloody urine. While some dogs may not show any symptoms, it is crucial to look out for these signs of a potential issue. If you notice any of these symptoms, a veterinary examination is necessary to determine the root cause.

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Causes of Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Previously believed to be a genetic issue, the link between recessed vulva and genetics has not yet been confirmed. Medium to large breeds are more susceptible to having a recessed vulva compared to smaller breeds. Moreover, obese dogs have a higher risk due to the accumulation of fatty tissue around the vulva, which creates a fold of skin that covers it.

How Veterinarians Diagnose a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Diagnosing a recessed vulva is relatively straightforward during a routine physical examination. The veterinarian will need to push back the fold of skin to properly visualize the vulva. In some cases, a tape impression test may be performed to check for skin infections. If necessary, a urine sample will be required for a urinalysis to diagnose a urinary tract infection.

Treatment for a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Dogs with a recessed vulva that do not experience any associated medical issues may not require treatment. However, those with vaginitis and/or urinary tract infections will need intervention. Medicated anti-bacterial or anti-fungal wipes may be prescribed to maintain cleanliness and prevent infections. If obesity is the suspected cause, a weight loss plan will be recommended to eliminate the excess skin fold. In cases where the dog is at a healthy weight and experiences recurring skin and/or urinary issues, surgery is the recommended treatment. This procedure, known as an episioplasty or vulvoplasty, involves removing the excess skin around the vulva and allowing it to be exposed naturally.

Recovery and Management of a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

After surgery, dogs will be prescribed oral medications, including antibiotics and pain relief. They may also receive a sedative to keep them calm during the recovery process. Dogs typically recover quickly, with their energy levels and appetite returning to normal within 24 hours. However, the incision will take around 10-14 days to heal fully.

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During the recovery period, it is essential to limit the dog’s activity level and provide crate rest if they are crate-trained. Using an e-collar (cone) will prevent licking at the incision site, reducing the risk of infection or the incision reopening. Monitoring the incision daily for any changes such as redness, swelling, drainage, or odor is crucial. If any concerning signs are observed, contact your local veterinary hospital immediately.

A successful vulvoplasty should prevent recurring skin infections and urinary tract infections if the recessed vulva was the underlying cause. However, it’s important to note that if a dog becomes obese after the surgery, a hooded vulva may develop again, leading to vaginitis or UTIs.

If a dog with a recessed vulva remains untreated for infections, the infection can spread to the kidneys, resulting in kidney failure. This can have severe consequences for the dog’s overall health and quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment to prevent long-term health issues.

Remember, if you suspect that your dog may have a recessed vulva, consult with a veterinarian who can provide a proper diagnosis and guide you through the appropriate treatment options. Do not hesitate to prioritize your furry friend’s health and well-being.

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