Recessed Vulva | Top Q&A

What is a concave vulva?

One concave vulva, which may also be referred to as juvenile vulva or hypoelasticity, is a structural (structural formation) problem that occurs in bitches. In this condition, the vulva is indented or partially hidden by the surrounding skin folds. A recessed vulva is thought to have a genetic basis, although this has yet to be ascertained. This condition is more common in medium to large breed dogs, especially overweight individuals.

What does concave vulva mean?

Some dogs can experience vulvar depression for the rest of their lives without experiencing any effects. The diagnosis can be a completely random finding during a routine physical exam, however, in other dogs, a dimpled vulva can predispose them to vaginitis and/or urinary tract infections. The folds of skin around the vulva can trap moisture when the dog urinates. This humidity combined with the warmth of the dog’s body temperature can make it very easy for bacteria to grow in this area. These bacteria can affect the skin folds around the vulva (perioral dermatitis), move into the vagina (resulting in vaginitis), or move up the urinary tract (resulting in Urinary or bladder infection).

What are the clinical signs of vulva depression?

The clinical signs of vulva indentation vary, depending on the dog. Some dogs with vulvar depression show no clinical signs. Other patients may be more severely affected. In many affected dogs, clinical signs involve inflammation and infection in the skin folds surrounding the vulva. Affected dogs can be seen wiggling (pulling their vulva on the floor to relieve itching) or licking their vulva excessively. In some cases, owners notice foul odors emanating from their dog’s vulvar area; This odor is associated with an infection. Affected dogs may also become uncontrollable, leaking small or large amounts of urine while they sleep. In other cases, the vulva is dimpled, leading to a urinary tract infection. Signs of a urinary tract infection may include urinary accidents in a dog that has been previously confined, straining to urinate, visible blood in the urine, or a foul odor in the urine. This may occur in addition to the signs of skin fold inflammation described above, or urinary tract infection may be the only clinical sign.

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How is a concave vulva diagnosed?

Your veterinarian can diagnose a concave vulva during a physical exam. In dogs with a concave vulva, the vulva is not visible because it is covered by overlapping skin folds. Closer examination can uncover moisture build-up and debris in the skin folds around the vulva. Your veterinarian will likely perform additional diagnostic tests to determine if vulva indentation is having any effect on your dog’s health. These tests may include blood work (complete blood cell count and serum biochemical profile), urinalysis (to evaluate the composition of urine), urine culture (to determine bacteria in the urine) and/or a cystogram, including an X-ray (X-ray) or ultrasound, to evaluate for bladder stones and other abnormalities in the bladder.

How is a concave vulva treated?

Many dogs with vulvar dilatation develop bacterial infections that require treatment. The antibiotics used to treat it vary depending on the type and severity of the infection. In cases of mild skin infections, topical antibiotics may be effective. In more severe cases of vaginitis, bladder infection, or skin infection, oral antibiotics are often required. This is especially the case when the dog has a recurring infection or an infection that doesn’t seem to resolve with appropriate antibiotic therapy. If the underlying defect is not resolved in some way, the infection will continue to recur frequently. There are two main treatment options for inverted vulva:

  • Medical management. For dogs that are only mildly affected, topical treatment with a medicated shampoo or towel may be enough to keep signs at bay and prevent secondary infection. Weight loss may also be beneficial, especially in overweight dogs, by reducing the size of the skin/fat folds surrounding the vulva.
  • Surgical treatment. In dogs that are more severely affected, or unresponsive to medical treatment, vulvectomy or episiotomy may be considered. This procedure corrects structural defects and restores the normal shape of the vulva. See the brochure “Vulvoplasty” for more information about this procedure.
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    What is the prognosis for a concave vulva?

    The prognosis for this condition depends on its severity and what treatment options are made. In general, dogs with vulva transplants experienced significant improvement in their clinical signs. In dogs treated with medical treatments only, the prognosis depends on the severity of the condition.

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