This problem tends to appear right out of the blue.
Your dog lies down for a nap and when she wakes up there’s a puddle of clear fluid where she slept.
What is that? Is it dangerous?
Such leaks are more frequent than you’d imagine in female dogs and they do not indicate anything more serious than an UTI, which is, of course, annoying, but highly-treatable.
Before you can start thinking about possible causes, you need to establish where the leak is coming from.
It might be coming from the urethra, the vagina or the anus.
You can do that by taking a paper tissue and blot it against her privates to determine the source of the leak.
Odorless discharge and urinary tract infections
It is quite hard to tell if the leak is coming from the urethra or the vagina, being that they are so close to each other.
A urinary tract infection can cause a leak, and quite a big one.
If your dog took a nap in your bed and left a mess behind, scolding her won’t do any good.
If the dog has an UTI, she’ll be quite unaware she’s leaking. In most cases, a dog behaves quite normally the rest of the time.
One of the main problems is that it may be difficult to tell if the puddle is urine or not.
One way of finding out is to use a piece of white tissue paper and soak it in the puddle.
Yucky, but you’ll need to start cleaning the mess anyhow.
If the tissue stains yellow, it’s clearly urine, so your dog might have an infection.
However, if the dog has been drinking a lot of water lately, the urine might not be concentrated enough to turn yellow.
You need to monitor your dog for other symptoms associated with an UTI, such as:
- Pain and whimpering when peeing, caused by a burning sensation
- Blood in the urine
- Accidents in a house-trained dog
- Licking of the urinary opening
Some dogs refuse to drink water to avoid having to go as it hurts too much, while others drink quite a lot, hence the possibility of a watery leak.
If you suspect your dog might have an UTI you must take her to a vet for a urinalysis, which will determine what sort of bacteria is causing the problem.
Most UTI in dogs are caused by Escherichia coli, a bacteria usually found in faeces. When they test for bacteria, doctors also run tests to determine what antibiotic works best with that type of infection.
Diagnosing an UTI is important because it allows the doctor to rule out other more serious problems, like cancer, kidney disease or kidney stones.
All of these can present with symptoms similar to those caused by an infection.
What is spay incontinence?
This condition affects one in five spayed female dogs.
The problems start to appear 2.9 years after the spaying on average, and they’re more common in older females.
After spaying, the quantity of estrogen circulating in the body decreases and this leads to a loss of tone in the muscles surrounding the opening of the urethra.
At the same time, decreasing estrogen levels seem to reduce bladder capacity.
In other words, your dog has trouble keeping it in, which explains leaks.
Such accidents are even more frequent when the dog is sleeping and has even less control over the sphincter muscle.
If your dog is spayed, here are a few other symptoms that indicate female canine urinary incontinence:
- Discomfort or behavioral changes
- Excessive licking of the genital area
- Eczema or skin irritation of the genital area
- Urine dribbling
The condition is more prevalent in medium and large dogs, weighing more than 45 pounds. Also, obese dogs seem to be more at risk of developing this condition.
Here are some of the breeds that are prone to canine incontinence:
- German Shepherd
- Irish Setter
- Giant Schnauzer
- Doberman Pinscher
- Boxer Rottweiler
- Old English Sheepdog
Canine incontinence cannot be truly cured, but the doctor can prescribe medication to reduce symptoms and unfortunate leaks.
Vaginal discharge and clear odorless fluid
When they hear about vaginal discharge, most pet parents will assume it has to do with that time of the month, or that time of the year for canines.
While this is a possibility, there are other problems that might cause a discharge, not necessarily clear or odorless.
Vaginal discharge during estrus
Dogs go into heat 1-3 times per year, depending on their breed and size.
The vaginal discharge is often the first sign pet owners notice.
However, normal vaginal discharge during estrus is bloody, so there’s no mistaking that for an accidental clear leak.
Vaginitis refers to an inflammation of the dog’s vagina and this can be triggered by many factors. This condition is almost always associated with a mucoid vaginal discharge.
This type of discharge ranges in color from clear to slightly greenish yellow tinged.
So, it is entirely possible that your dog’s leak is caused by vaginitis, which can affect both spayed and intact dogs.
If the dog has vaginitis, you’ll notice that her vaginal area is red and swollen.
If there’s an infection present, you might notice some pus or even blood in the discharge.
As for what causes vaginitis, there are many possibilities:
- Immature vagina – the condition affects puppies and tends to go away after the first heat cycle.
- Vaginal trauma
- Foreign object in the vagina
- Bacterial or viral infection
- Anatomical abnormalities
You’ll have to take the dog to the vet for a detailed examination of her reproductive apparatus. The cure depends on what’s causing the problem.
The good news is that most dogs recover without any problem.
If your dog is intact, the vet might recommend spaying as a way to prevent similar problems in the future.
Interesting to note that whatever that discharge might contain, male dogs seem to be attracted to females suffering from vaginitis, even if she’s not in heat.
Monitor your dog closely as male attention is probably the last she needs at a time when she has an infection and she hurts all over.
This is a bacterial infection in the uterus and tends to affect mostly intact females.
Your dog is more at risk of developing pyometra 1-12 weeks after going into heat.
This has to do with high levels of estrogen and progesterone, associated with estrus.
If the female isn’t mated and doesn’t get pregnant, this can lead to a cystic lining of the uterus, which makes her more susceptible to a bacterial infection.
Pyometra can cause a vaginal discharge, although it’s rarely clear and odorless.
Closed pyometra, without a discharge, is even more serious as it can lead to a very distended uterus, to the point of rupturing.
Besides the obvious discomfort, you’ll notice an enlarged abdomen.
This should send you to the vet right away, as the infection can cause septicemia, which is lethal if left untreated.
Vaginal discharge in pregnant female dogs
The average length of a pregnancy in female dogs is 9 weeks, but bitches can give birth to healthy puppies even 5 days before the due date.
If you notice a vaginal discharge in your pregnant dog it’s a clear sign that the puppies are coming. The discharge is usually clear, like when her waters break, but it can occasionally be tinged with mucus.
It’s time to take out the whelping box and make sure that your dog is comfortable.
In a false pregnancy, a condition that affects intact females that were not mated, vaginal discharges are rare.
You will however notice that her mammary glands will become enlarged and they might leak a watery or brownish substance.
Clear liquid leaking from the anus?
If your dog has problems emptying her anal sacs, there’s a possibility they might leak, but that fluid will be anything but odorless.
All dogs have two anal glands inside their rectum.
These glands release an oily and smelly substance dogs use to mark their territory.
Normally, they empty their anal sacs while defecating, but this might not happen if the dog has loose stools.
As the sacs fill with fluid you might notice a leak, and it might appear clear.
However, it is highly unlikely the dog will leave a real puddle behind her, as the sacs don’t have the capacity to hold that much fluid.
And it won’t be odorless.
The fluid in a dog’s anal sacs usually has a foul fishy smell and your nostrils will definitely notice that.
If your female dog leaves a puddle where she sleeps there’s no reason to become alarmed.
A clear and odorless fluid leak can be a sign of many problems, but very few are truly dangerous.
One of the reasons behind the leak might be a urinary tract infection.
Monitor your dog for other UTI symptoms and see a doctor.
At the same time, that suspicious leak might be a sign of canine incontinence, which is, unfortunately, quite common in spayed dogs.
You might also want to have your dog checked out for vaginitis, which is an inflammation of the vagina that can have multiple causes.
Vaginitis, too, is highly treatable.