During a gynecological examination, the external sexual organs (Vulva, mammary gland) are examined first, followed by an internal examination. By taking a vaginal swab sample, the vaginal flora can be determined by a bacteriological examination. With a second swab a stained smear is made and assessed directly by microscopy. On the basis of vaginal cytology, the different appearance of the epithelial cells of the vaginal mucous membrane can already be used to detect hormonal influences, the current stage of cycle or signs of inflammation. For evaluation of the vagina, a vaginoscopy can usually performed without sedation. In case of doubt also an endoscopy (if necessary under sedation) is a viable option. Thereby an evaluation of the vaginal mucosa (edema, wrinkles, secretions) can be performed. The uterus and both ovaries are best assessed via ultrasound. Endocrinological laboratory diagnostics may be indicated to check the hormonal status (e.g., progesterone, LH, AMH).
Diseases of the female genital tract include (examples):
• diseases of the vagina, e.g. juvenile vaginitis, vaginal tumors, vaginal septum
• diseases of the ovaries, e.g. ovarian cysts, ovarian tumors
• diseases of the uterus, e.g. glandular cystic hyperplasia of the endometrium, Hydrometra / Hemometra / Pyometra
• diseases of the mammary gland e.g. mastitis, mammary tumor
• during pregnancy, e.g. luteal insufficiency, gestational diabetes, singleton pregnancy
• puerperal diseases, e.g. eclampsia, retained placentas, galactostasis
• diagnosis and therapy in case of incomplete castration (Ovarian Remnant Syndrome)
• clinical approach to unwanted mating and pregnancy termination (prevention of nidation)
• pseudopregnancy with lactatio falsa
• castration-related urinary incontinence and perivulval dermatitis (vulvaplasty)
Usually, the female dog will be in heat in regular intervals of 5-8 months, each. A menopause comparable to women is not described. Older uncastrated female dogs can often develop ovarian cysts or uterine infections (which can even develop into life-threatening uterine suppurations). We therefore recommend a gynecological examination if you observe a missing heat or if you notice any irregularity.
Pyometra is an accumulation of pus in the uterus. It represents the most common disease of the sexual organs in the uncastrated female dog - the risk is up to 25% and increases with age. Symptoms such as dullness, lack of appetite, vomiting, and increased drinking behavior (polydipsia) typically occur in the following weeks after the last heat during the phase of pseudopregnancy, when progesterone is elevated.
Even when treated with gestagens for hormonal suppression of heat, a pyometra can develop. In the worst case, the toxins produced by bacteria can lead to blood poisoning (septicemia). In some animals, also the cervix opens up and the purulent vaginal discharge is released and thus becomes visible. For a reliable diagnosis, ultrasound examination is the diagnostic tool of choice. In order to assess the general condition, an additional laboratory examination is necessary. Depending on the stage of disease, conservative drug therapy may be attempted in some cases, but surgical castration with removal of the ovary and uterus (ovariohysterectomy) is often recommended.
Further information on urinary incontinence can be found in our "Urology" section.