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Vaginal Discharge in Spayed Dogs

Kara A. Kolster, DVM, DACT, Springfield Veterinary Center, Glen Allen, Virginia


May 2022
Peer Reviewed
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Clinician's Brief
Clinician's Brief


  • Cytology of discharge is not diagnostic; true vaginal cytology is thus important. 
  • Contamination of the cytology swab by the external vulvar lips or the vestibule can yield cornified epithelial cells, neutrophils, and/or bacteria. A clean otoscope cone can be used as a speculum to avoid contamination.
  • To avoid contamination, samples for culture should always be obtained using a double-guarded swab. 
  • Presence of neutrophils and bacteria on vaginal cytology or bacterial growth on a culture does not necessarily indicate infection, as there is an array of normal vaginal flora. Diagnostic results should be correlated with clinical findings, and antibiotics should only be used when appropriate. Most dogs have some growth on culture, but heavy growth of a single organism and/or growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are suggestive of pathologic infection. Growth of mixed flora with broad-spectrum antibiotic susceptibility is suggestive of normal flora.

AMH = anti-Müllerian hormone, LH = luteinizing hormone, OHE = ovariohysterectomy, OVE = ovariectomy, TVT = transmissible venereal tumor

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