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Vaginal Prolapse (Buwá in Tagalog) in Pets: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment


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Vaginal Prolapse (Buwá in Tagalog) in Pets: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment
by Mariana Burgos

Have you ever encountered a stray female dog or cat that has inflamed tissues protruding out of her private part? We usually call that “buwá” in Tagalog.

“Buwá”, in English, is vaginal prolapse or vaginal hyperplasia. As Dr. Bari Spielman says in his article, “Overview of Canine Vaginal Prolapse”, this ailment is seen as the protrusion of edematous (swollen) vaginal tissue into and through the aperture of the vulva, the external female genital organ, that occurs during particular stages of the estrus (heat) cycle. The whole circle of the vaginal wall protrudes, giving the exposed tissue a doughnut form. The disorder is comparable to fluid-filled tissue (edema) in nature.

Causes and Diagnosis

Jennifer Woolf, DVM, MS, in her paper “Protruding Vaginal Masses in Dogs,” explains the distinction between vaginal hyperplasia and prolapse, which are frequently used interchangeably.

A cat with vaginal prolapse gives birth. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

Although vaginal hyperplasia, swelling, and prolapse are all symptoms of the same condition, they are not the same, according to Woolf. Simply put, hyperplasia indicates that there is more tissue than there should be due to the presence of more cells. Swelling, on the other hand, happens for causes other than a rise in the number of cells, such as an increase in the volume of fluid in between cells. A prolapse is a condition in which the vagina is everted (turned inside out) of the body. Consider something from within the body pulling the vagina outward, similar to turning a sock inside out. When paired with a prolapse, the tissue frequently swells.

The quantity of externalized vaginal tissue distinguishes vaginal prolapse from vaginal hyperplasia. Only a portion of the tissue is swollen in vaginal hyperplasia, and it is confined to the ventral part of the vagina. In vaginal prolapse, the swelling is much more extensive, and the mucosa protrudes outwards.

Woolf provides a simple illustration for vaginal hyperplasia. She claims that it is more uniform than a mass. Consider vaginal hyperplasia to be the difference between a thin cotton sock and a thick wool sock. The “walls” (vagina) of the wool sock are thicker than those of the cotton sock, she says. If the sock could not extend outward for whatever reason, such as tight shoes, the amount of room within the sock for your foot would be reduced, and the sock would feel tight.

A dog with a growth in her private part. (Photo the article, “My dog has a growth on her vagina”)

According to Woolf, if the hyperplasic vagina prolapses, a circular, tongue- or doughnut-shaped lump may be seen. It can clearly be seen on the dog. The prolapse is usually smooth and glossy at first, but it ultimately dries up and fractures known as fissures form. It is caused by an overreaction to estrogen and usually occurs soon before or during menstruation (proestrus).

Vaginal prolapse occurs most frequently in young, intact female dogs. The Labrador and Chesapeake Bay retriever, boxer, English bulldog, mastiff, German shepherd dog, St. Bernard, Airedale terrier, Springer spaniel, Walker hounds, and Weimaraner are the most often afflicted breeds.

It often occurs exclusively with intact dogs and cats since spayed dogs and cats do not have enough estrogen to trigger it. However, if a spayed pet is exposed to estrogen from outside her body, as can happen if a dog licks estrogen cream off her owner’s arm, a prolapse may develop. A difficult labor and delivery may result in a prolapse, such as if the vagina everts outward as a result of the pressure and forces involved in giving birth.

A female shepherd’s behind showing a growth on her vagina. (Photo from the article, “Vaginal prolapse related to ovarian granulosa cell tumor in an Anatolian Shepherd.”)

Treatment

Unless the prolapse is severe, it should resolve on its own as the dog’s or cat’s heat cycle progresses or when the pet is spayed. In minor situations, the pet merely needs washing and topical ointment to keep the tissue wet and prevent it from drying out.

If very minor tissue damage has occurred, your veterinarian can manually put it back in. It is initially thoroughly cleansed, and edema is decreased by using hypertonic dextrose or sugar. Sutures can then be used to secure it.

The tissue must be surgically removed if it is dead (necrotic). Woolf claims, spaying her will prevent a recurrence and can be done at the same time as the dead tissue is removed.

Dogs or cats that have problems giving birth owing to the protrusion will almost certainly require a C-section, says Woolf.

To speed up ovulation, supportive treatments such as an E-collar to minimize self-trauma, a diaper with a lubricated pad, and hormone treatment can be used. However, according to Woolf, dogs do not generally respond well to hormones, and it is ineffective if given after ovulation, so it is rarely useful.

Following treatment, the intact dog should be monitored for relapse. Spaying is the only method of prevention.

If you see a pink lump coming out of your cat’s or dog’s vagina, she appears to be in pain, or she has difficulty peeing, it is an emergency and you should contact a veterinarian immediately.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard



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