Vaginal prolapse is a condition that is generally seen in female dogs that have not been spayed. The condition is the protrusion of the vaginal tissue into and then through the opening of the vulva. Vaginal prolapse generally occurs during the estrus or heat cycle. When the whole vaginal all protrudes, it takes on a donut shaped appearance. There are some breeds that are more susceptible to vaginal prolapse than others, but this is not to say that there is not a breed that this couldn’t happen to.
Vaginal prolapse seems to be more common in larger breeds such as the Labrador, Boxer, English Bulldog, Mastiff, German Shepherd, Springer Spaniel, Walker Hounds, and other large breeds. The condition is caused by estrogen stimulation and usually occurs when a female is just about to go into her heat cycle or has just completed it. The symptoms of vaginal prolapse include a protrusion of round tissue from the vulva, painful urination, inability to breed, and licking of the vaginal area.
Preventing vaginal prolapse is not an exact science; the only thing that is known to prevent it from happening is to spay the dog. Other options are to ensure that the dog is not allowed to lick herself by using an Elizabethan collar or diapers, as it is thought that dogs that have a tendency to lick more are more likely to develop a full blown vaginal prolapse.
As long as the dog can continue to urinate then she will usually be treated at home. Some of the treatments used to help with vaginal prolapse include a urinary catheter for dogs that cannot urinate, hormonal treatment, anti-inflammatory ointments, and surgical removal of the tissue. Most care is done at home and will require that the dog just rest and that the vulva area of the dog is cleansed daily with saline washes and that they are living in a padded environment where the tissue cannot be damaged. Many dogs will need to be diapered during the healing process to keep them from licking the area, causing more swelling and trauma to the tissues. Most of the time the prolapse will resolve itself and the dog will be fine, although two out of three dogs that experience vaginal prolapse will experience it again in the following heat cycle.