Puppies can often outgrow a recessed vulva without medical intervention, just like how babies outgrow an upturned belly button.
On the other hand, some dogs might spend their entire lives with the condition with no major symptoms. Meanwhile, others will require corrective surgeries to reduce recurrent infections.
However, in all cases, it’s still crucial to know when a recessed vulva is taking too long to correct itself. Plus, you have to be ready to deal with the potential risks.
Let’s jump right in and see what to expect!
When Does a Puppy Outgrow a Recessed Vulva?
In most cases, a recessed vulva can correct itself when the pup reaches heat.
Of course, different breeds have different maturity ages. As a general estimate, the first heat cycles occur when pups are about 9 to 10 months old.
If the correction doesn’t happen after the first heat, you can still wait until the next. You can expect the second cycle about seven months after the first one.
The second heat might be your last chance to observe whether your pup’s vulva will correct naturally. Anything beyond that is more likely to require medical intervention.
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Waiting for your pup to outgrow the recessed vulva doesn’t mean that you have smooth sailing ahead. You have to monitor how the case is developing and what you can do about it.
Here are a few vital tips to keep in mind while your puppy outgrows the condition:
Dog owners usually spay their pets when they’re around six months old. However, it’s better to delay the spay if your pup is still outgrowing a recessed vulva.
In fact, early spaying under one year could lead to triple the risk of developing recessed vulvas.
2. Clean the Area Regularly
With a recessed vulva, the extra skin traps moisture, making it harder for the dog to clean up.
Plus, the folds can also rub and create friction. This friction often leads to localized trauma and burning sensations.
To prevent this, clean the folds with a soft cloth or medical wipes every time the pup urinates. If the condition isn’t as bad, you can settle for cleaning two or three times weekly.
Doing so will also help you keep an eye on how the condition is progressing.
While you’re cleaning your pup, expect a few changes. Keep in mind that not every type of discharge is a warning sign.
For instance, you might spot:
- White-yellow discharge
- Dried urine debris
Nothing is shocking about this since both are perfectly normal and just require regular cleaning. On the other hand, spotting a greenish discharge might indicate that you're due for a visit to the vet.
Cleaning the folds alone might not be enough with long-haired breeds. Groom the hair in the nether region to prevent the collection of dirt, moisture, and urine.
If you’re not sure how to go about it, visit your local pet groomer for help. They’ll know how to tackle the task, even with a recessed vulva.
Perivulvar dermatitis and vaginitis are common complications in dogs with recessed vulvas. Not only is it extremely uncomfortable for the pup, but the excessive licking might lead to trauma.
That’s why it's crucial to spot the signs early on and get your pup treated.
Here’s what to watch out for:
- Dragging the vulva across the floor to relieve the itch
- Excessive licking
- Redness or tenderness to the touch
Perhaps the most serious concern to keep in mind while your pup outgrows a recessed vulva is Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs.
Although it’s relatively easy to treat this infection, holding back the urine can be fatal. So, you might want to prevent UTIs altogether instead of falling into a loop of recurrency.
Asides from regular clean-ups, there are a few tips to try:
Having enough water to drink can help flush out the bacteria from the urinary tract. So, always make sure your pup has a bowl full of clean water.
You will probably need to take the dog out more frequently to keep things in balance.
While it’s not a replacement for medication, adding cranberry juice or treats to the pup’s diet might help prevent bladder issues.
Just make sure you start with small portions to test for any potential allergies first.
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If your pup never outgrows the disease by the expected window, there might be two ways to go here.
Some dogs only show mild symptoms that don’t affect the quality of life all that much. Here, sticking to a wiping and grooming routine could be enough in itself.
However, if the poor pup is getting recurrent infections or rashes, it might be time to consider corrective surgery.
Seeking Surgical Treatment
An episioplasty or vulvoplasty is a surgical procedure that corrects the vulva’s deformation and restores its normal shape.
The surgery involves cutting out a part of the skin between the vulva and anus. Then stitching to lift the fold and expose the vulva.
It might sound harsh, but your pup won’t feel a thing throughout the whole process.
If your vet decides that surgery is the best way to go, you’ll need to brace yourself for the recovery. This period could last anywhere from two to three weeks.
During that time, you can’t let your dog perform any strenuous physical activity. You can still take light walks together, though.
You just want to avoid anything that can lead to the reopening of sutures. That’s also why your vet will probably recommend a dog collar to prevent licking.
If everything goes well, the vet might remove the sutures after 10 to 14 days.
As long as you follow the treatment plan and administer medication in time, your pup will be up and about in no time!
Paul has been creating content for the dog niche for many years. The information he shares comes his first hand experience growing up in dog lovers household and then owning multiple dog breeds of his own as an adult. Paul enjoys doing the hard research to collect, analyze and present our dogtemperament.com readers with the best answers to their questions.