A female dog with swollen private parts

Why Is My Female Dog’s Private Area Swollen?

A dog's swollen vulva could be natural or an indication of a health issue. Some causes of swollen vulva in dogs include vaginal infection, heat cycle, allergies, and more. Keep reading to learn more about why your dog's private area is swollen or bleeding.

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As with other parts of the dog’s body, a female dog’s private area can become swollen, inflamed, or infected. 

When a dog’s vulva becomes swollen, it doesn’t necessarily indicate there is a problem. However, unless you are 100% sure the cause is benign, have your dog examined by a veterinarian. The swelling could indicate a severe health issue that needs immediate attention.

Below is a brief overview of the likely causes of your dog’s swollen vulva.

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In this guide:

Dogs swollen vulva indications

When a dog’s vulva is swollen, it is enlarged but not always inflamed. It can change color, looking dark pink to red. You may notice your dog giving particular attention to her vulva either by excessive licking of this area or by rubbing or scooting herself along the ground.

You may also notice a bloody discharge coming out of the vulva. This discharge may range in color. The presence of a discharge can be normal, but it could also indicate a problem that needs a vet’s attention.

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Where is a female dog’s vulva?

The outer part of the female dog’s reproductive tract is called the vulva. The vulva includes the thick folds of tissue (called the labia) that connect at the top and bottom with an opening in between. In the opening is the vestibule, which contains the opening to the urethra and the vagina.

Possible causes of a swollen vulva in dogs

Vaginitis

Vaginitis is an umbrella term for vaginal inflammation. According to veterinarians Ryan Llera and Ernest Ward, there are a number of culprits for the inflammation, such as yeast infections, vaginal trauma, a foreign body, urinary tract infection, or a vaginal tumor.

The symptoms of inflammation often consist of frequent urination, scooting or rubbing the area, a red and swollen appearance, vaginal discharge that may contain pus or blood, or unusual attraction from male dogs when she is not in heat.

Treatment depends on the reason for the inflammation. Find more information in our overview of vaginitis in dogs.

Heat cycle

An enlarged vulva in your dog could be due to her heat cycle. She may be at the beginning of the proestrus stage (the first stage of the estrous cycle), which usually lasts between 7 to 11 days. Typical signs that your dog is in heat include a swollen vulva, bleeding, and changes in behavior.

East Central Veterinary Hospital advises that the amount of swelling may differ from one dog to the next. However, if you notice a significant amount of swelling that causes discomfort or pain, seek out help from your veterinarian.

Ovarian Remnant Syndrome

According to UC Davis Veterinary Medicine, Ovarian Remnant Syndrome is a condition that occurs when enough ovarian tissue remains inside the body after being spayed to cause behavior or hormone levels consistent with a female in heat. The swelling is caused by the hormones surging during the proestrus stage.

Allergic reaction

It’s possible that your dog’s vulva could be swelling due to an allergic reaction. She may also develop a rash on her vulva. While most environmental triggers affect obvious areas like the paws, legs, or back, your dog’s vulva may become inflamed if she squats while peeing.

>> Read more: Yorkie Allergies: What Are Yorkies Allergic To?

Forced separation during mating

Sometimes uninformed pet owners separate their dogs while they are mating. This is a bad idea. Not only does separating them not prevent pregnancy (if they have already begun mating), but it also can be dangerous to the dogs. While mating, dogs are physically locked together in a tie and forcing them apart can cause injuries that may involve vulvar swelling.

Labor

The swelling of the vulva could indicate your pregnant dog is about to go into labor. This swelling is a typical sign, and she will most likely begin contractions within a day. If there are any labor complications, the vulva is likely to swell as well.

Diagnosis & treatment

You need to take action quickly if the issue is serious. Have your vet perform an examination to rule out any urgent health issues.

Treatment will depend on the root cause of the problem. Your veterinarian will be able to determine the right treatment plan based on their findings during the examination.

If it’s an infection, the vet will most likely prescribe medication to clear up the infection. In some cases, treatment could be as simple as cleansing the area or monitoring the issue for worsening symptoms.

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What does a swollen vulva in dogs look like?

The outer part (the labia) and the opening in between the folds of tissue of the female dog’s reproductive tract are considered the vulva. If this area is swollen, it will be enlarged, engorged, or protruding from the body. Along with engorgement, you may notice a color change, a strong smell, skin infection, rash, or bloody discharge.

Can a puppy experience a swollen vulva?

Yes, puppies can have swollen vulvas. It may be puppy vaginitis, she may be experiencing her first heat cycle, or it may be something else. 

Smaller breeds, such as Yorkies, tend to go into heat earlier, as young as four months. Larger breeds tend to be older, up to two years old before their first heat cycle. Never breed your puppy on her first or second heat.

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Why is my female dog’s private area swollen and bleeding?

Your dog’s bleeding and swollen vagina or vulva may be the result of one of several health issues, including a bacterial infection, ovarian remnant syndrome, or something else. The best way to determine the source of the problem is to have your vet perform a physical examination on your dog.

If you don’t have a vet, you can use this tool to find one in your area.

Is my swollen female dog in heat?

A female dog in heat typically swells as a normal part of the proestrus stage. Swelling is usually the first physical indication that your dog is in a heat period. Soon she will have bloody discharge.

Why is my spayed female dog’s private area swollen?

Your dog’s swollen vulva might be due to a number of health issues. It’s possible that she may have ovarian remnant syndrome. This occurs when some of the ovarian tissue remains in the body during spaying and, therefore, your dog is experiencing a heat cycle. 

It’s also possible that other issues are at play, such as a yeast infection, an allergy, or something else entirely. Have your vet do an exam to rule out any serious health issues.

What to do? My dog’s vagina is swollen

Your dog could have a swollen vagina or vulva for a number of reasons. It’s possible they could have a serious condition. If you aren’t sure of the cause, have a vet conduct an examination. Early treatment could mean a less severe issue, a faster recovery, and less expensive vet bills. 

If you discover that your dog is in heat, take precautions. This swelling is a normal response to the hormones that are surging in her body and she may be a bit moody. Give her some space if needed.

Male dogs will smell she’s in heat from quite a distance and may become excessively aggressive and obsessive in tracking her down to mate with her. If you do not want her to get pregnant, it’s imperative that you keep her indoors and away from male dogs.

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