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White Discharge from Female Dog: What it Means, When to Worry & What to Do

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This article was updated on August 26th, 2023

Female dogs are specially equipped with a self-cleaning system of mucous that helps keep the parts of the reproductive tract healthy and free of germs and irritations. This system is there in both spayed and intact dogs and may create a clear or white colored discharge. Seeing any kind of discharge may make a dog parent worry and is the reason behind some veterinary visits with our patients. In this article, we will discuss when you should worry, and what you can do at home to help your dog.

Should I worry if I see a white discharge from my female dog?

While it’s possible for white vaginal discharge in female dogs to be normal, it may also be a sign of illness. Though white discharge alone may not necessarily indicate a severe problem, it’s crucial to observe your dog closely for other symptoms. Let’s first review when a white discharge is normal, and what symptoms you should monitor.

When is a white discharge normal?

Both spayed and intact dogs may normally show some white discharge. It’s just part of normal bodily functions at work to clear out germs and irritants from the vagina and other reproductive parts. In spayed dogs, this white discharge should be small in amount and may be rarely seen if dogs are diligent about keeping their genital areas clean.

A white discharge can also be normal in intact female dogs during certain stages of their reproductive cycle. During heat (estrus), female dogs may have a clear to slightly milky white discharge, which is considered normal. This discharge helps to facilitate the mating process and may turn pink or reddish during heat. See this picture for an example.

In pregnant females, you may also notice a clear to white or white-ish discharge that shows up about halfway through gestation and continues until whelping. For more information on discharges seen during pregnancy, check out our veterinarian article about Vaginal Discharge in a Pregnant Dog.

Now, all of these normal causes of white discharge in female dogs aren’t accompanied by any other concerning signs. If the discharge appears abnormal or is accompanied by anything that is off or worrisome, it is best to consult with your veterinarian.

When is white discharge a cause for concern?

While a white discharge can be normal during heat, it is important to be aware of any changes in color, consistency, or odor. If the discharge becomes:

  • thick,
  • foul-smelling, or
  • changes in color (e.g., yellow, green),

it may indicate an infection or other health issue. Additionally, if you notice any changes in your dog’s appetite/thirst, activity, or behavior, there is cause for concern.

Other symptoms typically seen along with a white discharge

Keep an eye out for the following signs, which could indicate that your dog’s white discharge may be a symptom of a bigger medical issue:

  • Redness or swelling of the genital area
  • Excessive licking of the genital area
  • Increased urination or difficulty urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Lethargy or loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior or temperament
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Foul odor from the discharge
  • Pain or discomfort during urination or defecation
  • Abdominal pain or bloating

Top causes of abnormal white discharge in female dogs (in heat or not in heat)

  • Vaginal infection: Infections such as bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections can cause white or off-white discharge accompanied by odor or irritation. Dogs will usually be uncomfortable, lick excessively, and may urinate more frequently.
  • Pyometra: This serious condition is characterized by a pus-filled uterus and can cause white or pus-like (purulent) discharge, along with other symptoms like fever, lethargy and abdominal pain. This is an emergency and should be seen by a vet immediately.
  • Urinary tract infection (UTI): UTIs can lead to abnormal discharge, including white or cloudy urine along with frequent urination, straining, and excessive licking.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Hormonal imbalances, such as an overproduction of progesterone, can result in white discharge. Dogs may also have behavior changes, weight loss or weight gain and changes in haircoat.
  • Foreign bodies: Objects lodged in the vaginal canal can cause irritation and discharge as well as discomfort.
  • Allergies or irritation: Allergies or irritants can lead to inflammation and discharge in the genital area.
  • Trauma or injury: Trauma to the genital area can cause discharge.
  • Cancer: In rare cases, certain types of cancer, such as vaginal or uterine cancer, can cause white discharge. Dogs may also be lethargic, have changes in appetite, or abdominal pain.

When is it ok to wait and see?

If the white discharge is mild and your dog appears to be otherwise healthy, it may be acceptable to monitor the situation closely for a short period of time (a couple of days is the maximum recommended). However, it is crucial to keep a close eye on your dog’s symptoms and overall well-being.
If the discharge worsens, persists for more than a few days, or is accompanied by any concerning symptoms, it is recommended to seek veterinary advice promptly.

Is there anything I can try at home to help my dog?

While home remedies may not address the underlying cause, they can help alleviate discomfort or support your dog’s overall health. Note that these options are not a substitute for veterinary care. Some options include:

  • Keeping the genital area clean by gently wiping with a warm damp cloth.
  • Using dog-safe wipes or topical products recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Providing your dog with a comfortable and clean environment (be sure to remove any soiled bedding materials and provide fresh clean bedding in it’s place).
  • Ensuring proper hygiene and regular bathing as recommended by your veterinarian.

It’s important to note that there are no medications or treatments recommended for at-home intervention without a veterinarian’s input, since the cause of discharge is difficult to pinpoint and treat effectively without professional evaluation.

Signs that you need to see your vet

It is important to consult with your veterinarian if you observe any of the following signs along with a white discharge:

  • Abnormal discharge (e.g., foul odor, changes in color or consistency)
  • Excessive licking or discomfort in the genital area
  • Signs of illness (e.g., lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Persistent or worsening symptoms
  • Blood in the urine

Veterinarian diagnosis

When you visit your veterinarian, they will perform a thorough examination of your dog, focusing on the genital area. They may collect a sample of the discharge for laboratory analysis, such as a cytology or bacterial culture, to identify the underlying cause. Additional diagnostic tests, such as blood work or imaging, may be recommended based on the initial findings. A comprehensive evaluation will help your veterinarian determine the cause of the white discharge and develop an appropriate treatment plan to address your dog’s condition.

Treatment for white discharge in female dogs will depend on the cause and may include antibiotics, supportive care, or even surgery.

Remember, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options when dealing with a white discharge in your female dog. Prompt veterinary care can help ensure the health and well-being of your furry companion.

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Authors

  • Dr Chyrle Bonk, Veterinarian

    Dr. Chyrle Bonk received her Master in Animal Science from the University of Idaho and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from Oregon State University in 2010. She has over 10 years of experience in small animal veterinary practice, working for a veterinary clinic in Idaho.

  • Kate Howard, Vet Tech

    Kate Howard lives in Upstate New York, and received her degree in Veterinary Technology from Alfred State College of Technology in 2010. She has been a veterinary technician for 13+ years, and spent her career working primarily in general practice and veterinary emergency care. Kate has 3 dogs, a cat, and keeps a small flock of backyard poultry.


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