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When a female dog leaks clear fluid — What You Should Know About Canine Vaginal Discharge - PawSafe

When a female dog leaks clear fluid — What You Should Know About Canine Vaginal Discharge

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

female dog leaks clear fluid

When a female dog leaks clear fluid, it’s natural to be concerned. Any kind of discharge from a dog’s genitals can be a sign of medical issues, so it’s vital we don’t ignore it. But what does clear, odorless fluid from a dog’s vulva mean?

When we have pets, we know things can get messy. That’s why it’s essential to always keep a pet odor remover around the house for mishaps. Even so, we must know what is normal and what is not when it comes to things like vaginal discharge in dogs.

So let’s dive into what clear fluid leaking from a female dog usually means and when we need to be concerned.

Essentially, when we see any discharge or unusual liquid coming from a dog’s vulva, we are usually dealing with something to do with their estrus cycle, a possible pregnancy, or there is an infection in the urogenital tract.

The urogenital tract includes the organs that are part of the urinary tract, like the ureters, kidneys, and bladder. It also includes the reproductive organs like the vagina, cervix, uterus, and ovaries. We group all of these together because of how close they are together in the body. When we see discharge from the vulva, there could be infection or inflammation in any of these organs.

Also, these organs can lead to infections in each other. For instance, a urinary tract infection can lead to bacteria traveling to the vagina, causing another infection there (vaginitis). Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, so female dogs are quite vulnerable to these conditions.

So it’s always crucial to take any kind of discharge in our dogs seriously and to be aware of what is normal and what is not. Taking responsibility for our dogs’ reproductive health is just part of being a good parent, and when in doubt, it is best to see a vet. This is because some causes, like pyometra, can be deadly.

Types of Vaginal Discharge in Dogs

Before we continue, let’s briefly look at the different types of vaginal discharge we generally find in dogs.

  1. Serous: watery, clear, and usually odorless liquid
  2. Bloody: bright to dark red or even dark brown discharge, often has a strong smell
  3. Mucus: thick, gray or white discharge with sticky or egg white consistency
  4. Purulent: yellow or green discharge that contains pus
  5. Birth-related discharge: this is often black or green but can also be bloody or clear.
  6. Heat-related discharge: this is usually either bloody or serous, usually with a pink tinge, depending on the stage of estrus

This article focuses on serous (watery and clear) or clear mucus discharge. But since a condition can lead to more than one type of fluid leaking from a dog, we need to mention that what starts as a serous or clear liquid can develop into purulent if an infection or a disease isn’t treated in time.

Why is My Female Dog Leaking Clear Fluid From the Anus?

If you think your female dog is leaking clear fluid from her anus, you need to make sure it’s not really from the vagina. If you are sure it is anal fluid then it may be leaking anal sacs or it may be mucus shedding from the intestines, suggesting a gut issue like IBS.

The anal glands are two glands in a dog’s rear end that contain fluids with a powerful smell that allows them to mark territory and advertise information about themselves. It’s the main reason that dogs sniff each other’s butts

The anal glands express naturally when a dog is pooping, but they can become impacted, and may need to be manually expressed. You can read more in our article on home remedies for dog scooting.

Occasionally, a dog’s anal glands could leak smelly (usually brownish) liquid when a dog is excited or nervous. If the dog’s anal sacs appear to be leaking randomly, this is not normal, and the dog should see a vet immediately.

Another kind of discharge from the butt might be a clear type of mucus. Mucus from a dog’s anus or in their poop typically means something is irritating their intestinal wall, causing the protective lining to shed. This could be anything from colitis (puppy garbage disease) to inflammatory bowel disease or even the early stages of something like parvo.

Shedding the intestinal lining is often followed by blood in the poop as the gut inflammation worsens. So, it’s best to take your dog to the vet if you notice a persistent sticky, clear, or white discharge from your dog’s butt. If your dog has severe diarrhea, you can see our article on dogs pooping clear liquid.

5 Reasons Female Dogs Leak Clear Fluid or Other Vaginal Discharge

1. Vaginitis

If you’re googling “young female dog leaking clear fluid,” you must first rule out vaginitis. Vaginitis in dogs is a common inflammation of the vagina that can be caused by:

  • Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic sources; 
  • A defect in the shape of the vulva, vagina, or urinary tract;
  • Viruses like canine herpesvirus or brucellosis;
  • Trauma or injury to the vagina (as sometimes may happen after mating);
  • Tumors or cancer, especially vulvar or vaginal tumors in older dogs;
  • Some kinds of medications, such as Prednisone;
  • Hormonal imbalances and conditions that cause them; and
  • Foreign objects in the vagina, such as dirt.

Symptoms of Vaginitis Include:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge and odors;
  • Redness and swelling around the vulva;
  • Visible discomfort when urinating;
  • Excessively licking the private parts;
  • Scooting (dragging their hind end on the floor); 
  • Attention from males as though the dog is in heat; and
  • And straining to urinate. 

It is quite common in puppies, called puppy vaginitis and it usually happens between 6 weeks and 8 months. This usually resolves on its own after the dog has her first heat, but it’s better to see a vet for older dogs.

If left untreated, this infection can lead to other problems, such as skin infections and even urinary tract infections. Treatment for vaginitis often includes antibiotics, antifungals, antiparasitics, topical creams or sprays, and cleaning the affected area.

Additionally, grooming and cleaning the genitals regularly is key to keeping the area healthy. Those who have female dogs should always consult with a veterinarian if the dog is experiencing any abnormal vaginal discharge. Early diagnosis and treatment can ensure that the infection does not develop into something more serious.

2. Vaginal discharge when a dog is in heat

Female dogs typically experience two main types of vaginal discharges during the first two stages of their heat cycle: proestrus and estrus. During proestrus, which can last for 5-9 days, the female dog will often produce a reddish-brown, bloody discharge that gets progressively heavier as the cycle progresses. This discharge may be accompanied by swelling of the vulva and a bloody discharge from the vulva.

During estrus, which can last for 9-20 days, the female dog will usually produce a whitish or watery pink discharge that is usually less abundant than the discharge during proestrus. It is common for the discharge during estrus to be thick and sticky. Following estrus, female dogs in heat will typically experience a decrease in the amount of discharge until their heat cycle has ended.

If you are worried about when your dog is able to fall pregnant, see our article on whether dogs can fall pregnant when not in heat.

White discharge from a dog before heat could be a sign of changing hormones but may also indicate an issue like vaginitis. White discharge from a dog during heat is less common and something to keep an eye on.

After the proestrus stage, the discharge should be mostly clear, stringy, or runny. It may also be pinkish. If it is an opaque white color during heat, keep an eye out for signs of it turning purulent and on your dog’s general health.

In the case of spayed dogs, they can sometimes also have discharge as though they are in heat. This happens when a small piece of the ovary stays behind during the spay and produces sex hormones. It is called ovarian remnant syndrome.

3. Clear white fluid leaking from pregnant dogs

When it comes to a female dog leaking clear, odorless liquid while pregnant, timing is everything. Vaginal discharge in pregnant dogs could be a sign that the dog is going into labor soon or that there is trouble, according to Dr. Dan Rice

After a dog becomes pregnant, antimicrobial mucus builds up in her cervix to stop bacteria from reaching the womb. A dog will lose this mucus plug shortly before they start going into labor, usually anything from hours to about a week before delivery.

Most people will never see the mucus plug, as dogs tend to clean it themselves. But it is usually a clear or white liquid expelled from the vagina, with a stringy or “egg white” consistency. If a dog’s mucus plug ejects too early (more than a week before the due date), it could be a sign that she is going into premature labor.

If the discharge has a foul odor and is green, it could signify something very wrong, like a dead fetus. Bloody discharge in pregnant dogs usually means labor has started, and discharge during and after labor is often black or green.

A white or purulent discharge after a dog is pregnant could mean metritis or an infected uterus. This could be from a common e.coli infection or a dead fetus. In some cases, dogs can still have bloody discharge or weeks or even years after pregnancy if the uterus does not heal properly (called subinvolution of placental sites).

You can read more in our article about signs that a dog is going into labor.

4. Urinary tract infections & Urinary Incontinence

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in female dogs are generally caused by bacteria that enter the urethra and travel up to the bladder. Older female dogs that are spayed are highly prone to UTIs. We cover the topic in depth in our article on dogs leaking urine while lying down. There are many signs of a UTI, but a lesser known one is when a dog humps a person or object to get rid of the discomfort.

Signs of infection include blood in the urine, increased frequency of urination, and pain or discomfort during urination. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and may include other medications to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Suppose you are wondering why your female dog has discharge after peeing or urination. In that case, it could be a bladder infection. However, since the ureter opening and the vagina are close, there could be a build-up of discharge in the vagina that only comes out when the dog is straining to pee. This could indicate a problem like vaginitis.

It’s also important to remember that older dogs (especially females) are very prone to losing bladder control and becoming incontinent. You will often see this when they start to pee on their bed while they sleep or they start messing in the house despite house training.

5. Uterine infections

Uterine infections may start with clear fluid discharge, but this will quickly develop into something nastier. Uterine infections (also known as pyometra) occur when bacteria enter the uterus through an unaltered female dog’s cervix.

The infection can cause swelling of the uterus and the production of pus-filled or bloody discharge. Common symptoms include anorexia, vomiting, fever, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination. Treatment typically involves antibiotics and/or surgery to remove the infected uterus.

Final Thoughts

A little clear white discharge from a female dog is usually normal. Still, it’s vital to consider other symptoms, like if your dog is lethargic or refuses to eat. Signs of urine could be incontinence from a UTI or related urinary issues. But vaginal discharge means that the reproductive system is trying to clean itself, or it means hormonal or gynecological problems to do with a dog’s heat cycle or pregnancy.

Whether the discharge is clear and watery, knowing what’s normal and what’s not is crucial and seeing a vet if you notice a problem is vital.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.