Boston Terrier licking at vagina – why is this?

Our question this week was:

I have a 1 ½-year-old Boston terrier. She seems to keep acting like the area around her vagina is itching her. I noticed she has a couple little bumps there, though they do not look like mosquito bites, is it possible to be poison ivy? Whether it is or isn’t, what can I put on it to help her from itching? Can she have benadryl?

Rita Barriero


Hi – thanks for your email. You emailed that your Boston Terrier seems to have itching around her vagina area and there are some small bumps. Some dogs can have urinary tract infections, vaginitis, or dermatitis all of which can cause itching.

Dogs can rarely get poison ivy. Mosquito bites can happen but are not that common. They can also get some rectal or anal gland problems that causing them to lick in that general area. Sometimes it is hard to tell which is itching and what they are actually trying to lick.

How to treat this condition depends on the underlying cause. Is she spayed? Have you seen any vaginal discharge? Is she urinating normal? Is he eating normally? Acting okay? If the answers to any of these questions make you concerned, I’d recommend calling your vet to have her evaluated. If she is uncomfortable, the best thing to do would be to have her evaluated so the underlying problem can be identified and treated.

You can use Benadryl but it is not going to help if it is a urinary tract infection, vaginitis, pyometra or another significant problem. When dosing benadryl, we generally give 1 mg per pound of body weight. A 25 pound dog would get 25 mg.

An couple articles that might be helpful to you are Vaginitis in Dogs, Urinary Tract Infection, and Dermatitis in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra