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Recessed/Inverted Vulvas and Chronic Infections
Some female pups can be born with what is called a recessed or inverted vulva (RV), sometimes termed an “innie” or “tipped” vulva. Please see the pic above to compare to your pup. Please note: this pic is of a RV pup, not a normal vulva.
This allows urine to pool in the valley around the vulva and the resulting bacteria can be the cause of chronic urinary tract infections (UTI) or bladder infections. This should not be confused with puppy vaginitis which will usually show in a slight mucusy discharge. Vaginitis is not a bacteria or infection but is something that its best to wait for first heat cycle as maturity/puberty will often put a stop to it. Just wiping the vulva with warm water and cotton is the best you can do until it clears up. Antibiotic will not help vaginitis. See this link:
If you suspect your new puppy has a RV there are holistic ways of preventing infection. It is also very important that this pup is not spayed until she has her first heat cycle because most times the vulva will correct itself as a result of that heat cycle (sometimes it takes 2 cycles to correct but most often only one cycle). If you spay prior to the first heat you could be subjecting the pup to a lifetime of infections. Be sure and ask your vet if they have ever dealt with this as there are vets who have never seen a case and would not know what they are looking at. If that is the case please seek out another vet so you are not advised to spay your pup prior to first heat.
For those afraid to wait to spay because they have read about cancer and infections, please see this link. The risk starts to go up after age 2.5 and most dogs will have a first heat by 1 year, although some will go a bit beyond that.
A reputable breeder will inform a buyer of a RV and instruct on holistic treatment to prevent infections. As a breeder I write a letter to the buyer’s vet informing them of the RV and the need to allow first heat cycle and that this time frame for spay is in my contract with buyer. This helps prevent a vet from pushing a spay prior to first heat cycle.The first time I had ever seen this condition was with a pup I had purchased from another breeder who chose not to inform me of it. My vet diagnosed it and unfortunately, since the breeder had ignored the condition, pup had a very severe infection that took over 6 months and in excess of $600. to get rid of. The breeder was aware of the condition and admitted it to me after I had it diagnosed. Thankfully my pups RV corrected on her first heat cycle.
For the health of my pups I would never consider withholding this condition, or any other condition for that matter, from a potential puppy buyer. I instruct my pup buyers to take a urine sample to the vet at their 72 hour vet check and if pup has an infection I will pay for the first round of antibiotics if they are necessary. Buyer must then be diligent in following my holistic instructions below. Because of what I went thru with my pup I now know how to handle this and it is really a non issue because I start holistic treatment immediately to prevent infections.
I have had 3 pups from my own litters with RV and started them on cranberry capsules daily at 6 weeks of age. This should continue “every day” until pup has her first heat and vulva corrects. The cranberry adheres to the bladder wall preventing bacteria from sticking and causing infections. I also recommend checking urine PH weekly at home. Normal PH is 5.5 – 7. If PH is elevated double up on crancaps (a.m. and p.m.) for a week (or two if necessary) and recheck PH. Once PH is in normal range drop back to single dose. If it remains elevated for two weeks take a urine sample to the vet to be checked as antibiotics may be necessary if it is a severe enough infection.
Collect urine first thing in the morning before any food or water and in mid stream for best sample. I use a tuperware lid. Take dog out on a leash first thing in a.m. prior to food or water. When she squats wait a bit so she is in mid stream and just stick a tupperware lid under her butt from behind and pull it out real quick. You only need a small amount to test.
If she stops going don’t worry just walk her around so she squats again to empty her bladder, she will eventually get use to it.
Put in a small tupperware container or jar and take to the vet. When testing PH at home just dip a strip in the urine and compare the strip to the chart on the box while the strip is still wet.
Here is a link to purchasing the PH strips.
Be sure and order the 5-10 PH range strips.
If you do have elevated PH you can also give live organism probiotics to put good bacteria in the system that will also aid in warding off infection. I give a 10 billion organism at 1/8 tspn daily for 8 week old pup. I prefer a live organism that must be refrigerated as opposed to a pill form. If you need to give antibiotics it is also advised to give the probiotics 2-3 hours after each dose of med and to continue for at least a few weeks with probiotics after meds are finished. Amount of weeks to continue would depend on dosage and length of time on antibiotics. Antibiotics kill off good bacteria along with the bad so it is important to replace this good bacteria with the probiotics. In some cases, where pups are getting infections, wiping the vulva after each urination with unscented baby wipes can help. You can purchase crancaps or probiotics at most health food stores or you can go to www.progressivelabs.com item #498 and #963. If you prefer to order on the phone go to extension 149 for Nancy. She is the rep I deal with and knows these products well. Please be sure to tell her that I referred you. (Patty at Snowcolabradors)
Note: (11/10/11) The Progressive Lab Crancaps have been changed/improved. They are now a “fruit” concentrate rather than a “juice” concentrate. And they are concentrated at 50:1. The softgels are now 150mg ea. but I would still just give one per day for maintenance. If PH is elevated give 2x/day, one in a.m. and p.m. meal or you have a UTI and are using the Crancaps in lieu of antibiotics. Once you see PH in normal range you can cut down to one capsule daily for maintenance. Keep checking PH to be sure this amount will be sufficient.
Note: Progressive’s crancaps contain soy. If your dog has an allergy to soy or you suspect it; see this GNC product instead: http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2182679 (2 capsules = 1000mg).
Note: 3/9/10: I have been having success with using only one of the Progressive 420mg crancaps for maintenance and using 2 when PH is elevated. It will depend on the severity of your dogs UTIs or how often they occur as to whether you will use 1 for maintenance or 2. The dog will flush out what the body does not use.
In the case of my pups none have ever had an infection because the above regime was followed by the buyer and pups corrected on their first heat cycle. I have had adult dogs urine test positive at the vet for a UTI and have gotten rid of it by giving the crancaps twice daily for 2 weeks and having urine tested again. If the infection had not cleared up I would have considered antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection. I choose to take the holistic approach whenever possible as antibiotics can reak havoc on the system. As always you should consult your vet and I prefer to deal with a vet that will not poo poo the holistic approach even if they choose not to prescribe it to their patients.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation as I did with the pup I purchased from the breeder and you can not get rid of a severe infection with antibiotics it is important to do a culture and sensitivity at the laboratory to pin point the exact type of bacteria so the proper type of antibiotics and dosage can be given. It is best to get the urine sample for this c/s test thru what is called a cystosentisis which is urine drawn from the bladder via needle for the purest sample possible. This is not painful to the dog but the dog must have a full bladder so it is important to have the first appointment of the morning at the vet. Get up get the dog in the car (not allowing them to squat outside) and go.
I am not a veterinarian so I do advise having your pups urine tested at your vet the first time you suspect an infection and then make an informed decision as to the treatment you want to use. But remember, constantly using antibiotics can be detrimental to the long term health/immunity of your pup.
Vulvoplasty/Nip N Tuck: this is plastic surgery that a lot of vets will recommend to correct a RV on a dog that has already been spayed. Some will even recommend it prior to spay or at same time as spay because they do not know that a heat cycle can correct the RV. What bothers me are the vets that spayed a dog with RV prior to first heat (because they don’t know what a RV looks like), and than later when dog is having UTI issues they suddenly diagnose the RV and recommend the surgery.
I don’t recommend this surgery unless you have a dog that has been spayed and you can not keep UTI free with my method. You can not keep a dog on antibiotics for life – therefore, the surgery would be best. My first step would be the holistic approach and if it works than keep the dog on it for life to prevent UTIs.
If you have to go with the surgery please be sure to use a vet that is seasoned in this procedure. Ask your vet how many they have performed and what the success rate of keeping the dogs UTI free was. If your vet has never preformed this surgery please find one that has experience.
If anyone has a pup with a recessed vulva and you have further questions please feel free to ask here or contact me thru my web site.
I have been having trouble getting some emails thru to people (Verizon, AOL, EDU) so if you do not get a response please feel free to call me. My number is on my web site.