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Vaginal Prolapse

Vaginal prolapses are often confused with vaginal hyperplasia, also known as vaginal edema. So the first thing to do is make sure it is a prolapse. Vaginal hyperplasia is treated by removing the protuding tissue surgically. Vaginal prolapse is more difficult to treat if retaining breeding ability is desired -- although this is considered to be a possibly inherited trait so there is some question about the advisability of breeding. Ovariohysterectomy (spaying) is usually curative. Some prolapse will regress on their own as the dog goes out of heat but it probably isn't a good idea to count on that if there is a significant prolapse. I have seen recommendations for treating this with gonadotrophic releasing hormone but do not know of the success rate. Surgical repair by entering the abdomen, retracting the prolapse and suturing the uterus to the body wall may work but it does make future breeding questionable and possibly even dangerous.


What is vaginal prolapse?

This term refers to the protrusion (prolapse) of a mass from the vulva during the proestrus or estrus phase in the female dog.

What causes vaginal prolapse?

The tissues of the terminal reproductive tract become thickened due to the action of the female hormone, estrogen. The result is a swelling of the tissue and this is sometimes pushed externally out of the opening. There is also thought to be a genetic predisposition to this condition.

What are the signs of vaginal prolapse?

The bitch is noted to have a round mass at the opening, and the swollen tissues remain outside the body. It is most commonly noted in younger females (less than 3 years of age). This will occur as she is approaching, or in standing heat. Note that it can be seen at parturition (birth), but this is rare. The female may seem uncomfortable, will not allow breeding, may strain to pass urine, and may try to clean this area excessively.

How is vaginal prolapse diagnosed?

The timing of the problem, and typical appearance on the physical examination will usually be adequate information on which to base a diagnosis. In an older female dog, sometimes a tissue sample is taken in order to differentiate this condition from a cancerous growth.

How is vaginal prolapse treated?

This condition does not usually required treatment in hospital. Treatment of the tissues topically is important to prevent infection or drying out. A clean environment is important. Sometimes a restraining collar is needed to prevent her from bothering the area. Hormones to help hasten the passage of the proestrus or estrus stage of the cycle will sometimes be administered. In severe cases, a surgery is often needed. Performing a spay will prevent recurrence, and will result in lower hormone levels, thus favoring resolution of the problem.

What is the prognosis for vaginal prolapse?

The prognosis is excellent if a spay is undertaken. This will remove the hormonal peaks that produce the condition. If it is severe, the prognosis is good if surgical intervention is done. If the urethra is involved, prognosis is good with local surgical intervention. Even with surgical removal of the prolapsed tissue, unless the dog is spayed, recurrence of the problem is common.

The information on this page was obtained from the site www.vetmedcenter.com