If your dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath, you are rightfully concerned, things shouldn't be that way and it's important to have the problem fixed. When a dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath, it means that it cannot retract, and when this happens, it can lead to some complications. The delicate tissue area risks getting dry which can cause potential cracking and even some serious complications such as a painful infection or tissue death. While there are a few things you can do at home, definitively see the vet if things aren't getting any better within a few hours.
A Lesson in Anatomy
To better understand what's happening, it's helpful to learn a bit more about the anatomy down there. Normally, the penis should be able to retract normally into the sheath. Also known as prepuce, the sheath consists of the skin on the dog's belly that covers the penis. When a dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath for some time, there is often something that is preventing it from retracting into the sheath as it should.
While a dog's penis may stick out from stimulation (presence of a female dog in heat), it should go down pretty quickly once the stimulation is over and retract into the sheath. If the dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath for over 10 minutes, then most likely you are dealing with a problem, explains veterinarian Dr. Bruce. The condition of a dog's penis sticking out and not being able to retract can affect both intact and neutered male dogs.
It is very important to get the penis back into the sheath because the sheath acts like a tight band around the dog's penis in a similar fashion as an elastic band around a finger, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona. Obviously, this can lead to serious complications.
Left untreated, the tip of the penis that is stuck out can dry out, but even worse, if blood supply is compromised, the area may become necrotic (tissue death) and even require amputation!
Did you know? There are several different problems that can affect male dogs. Phimosis is the medical term to depict an inability of the penis to extrude from the prepuce. Paraphimosis is the medical term to depict the inability for a nonerect, extruded penis to withdraw back into the prepuce, while priapism consists of the inability foran erect, extruded penis to be withdrawn back into the prepuce.
A Few Possible Causes
The causes for a dog's penis sticking out of the sheath may vary from minor issues to more serious ones. A common cause is the presence of hair in the area. The hair may end up catching in the sheath area causing the skin to roll up and preventing the penis from being able to retract. In this case, it's important to very carefully unroll the inverted sheath manually.
Once any evident mechanical causes preventing the dogs penis to go back into the sheath are ruled out, then it's time to evaluate for other potential causes with the help of the vet.
For instance, other possible causes for paraphimosis in dogs include excessive straining to urinate, the presence of an infection, a prepuce stricture or inflammation (from trauma or infection).
Dogs prone to repeated problems with their penis sticking out, may have a preputial opening that is not enough enlarged. In some cases, the cause is a relaxation of the muscle that holds the penis in, explains veterinarian Dr. Jo.
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Another potential cause for paraphimosis is an underlying neurological disorder. It could be your dog has been victim of some blunt trauma to the spinal column. You will therefore have to think back several days and try to recall whether there was any event that may have led to a possible spinal cord injury.
What You Can Do at Home
If your vet's office is not very close, you can try to use the shower head to spray cool water on the extending tissue. This should help bring down the swelling so that the penis can more easily return into the sheath.
Then, using KY Jelly, you can try to re-insert the dog's penis into the sheath. If this does not work though or the dog's penis pops out again, prepare to see your vet immediately, points out veterinarian Dr. Fiona.
While you prepare to see your vet, you can protect the tissue from drying out. Dr. Fiona suggests making a sugar bandage.
To do this, get a sanitary napkin, a face cloth or a tea towel and wet it with cold water. It' very important that it's cold water. Then, apply 2 tablespoons of honey to the towel and place on the dog's penis. Wrap a hand towel over it and to keep it snugly in place, tape the ends of the towel over the dog' back or have somebody hold it in place as you drive your dog to the vet.
"After 4 hours the penis can suffer irreversible damage requiring amputation. You need to get some Vaseline or KY Jelly and lubricate the prepuce opening and penis and try to pull the prepuce over the penis. If you cannot do this, have him checked immediately by the nearest ER veterinarian."~Dr. Peter, veterinarian
At the Vet's Office
If your dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath and doesn't show any signs of retracting, it's time to see the vet. Time is of the essence. If more than 3 to 4 hours pass, there are chances for complications s to occur.
Your vet will inspect the area looking for the presence of any foreign material, like hair or string, and he or she may ask you several questions such as for how long your dog has had the problem and what you have done in the meanwhile.
If no obvious abnormalities are noticed, he or she will then try narrowing down the underlying cause and this may involve some tests. Based on your vet's findings, there are several different treatment options. If the complication is secondary to a spinal cord injury, your dog may need rest and medications.
Some affected dogs may need to undergo general anesthesia. The vet may use lubricants in an attempt to shrink the penis, so that it can fit back into the prepuce. A stitch (purse string suture) may be placed temporarily in the preputial opening to keep the penis in place for a few days until the inflammation resolves.
In some cases, a urinary catheter may be needed if the dog has trouble urinating. If the dog's penis is stuck out of the sheath aand appears discolored, swollen and painful then the vet may need to perform a penile amputation. For dogs prone to repeated cases due to a small preputial opening, a corrective surgical procedure to make the opening a little bigger may help prevent re-occurrences.
"Unfortunately, many clients wait too long, and by the time I have seen a patient with long-standing paraphimosis or priapism, the penis is typically too dried, damaged, and necrotic (dying) to be salvaged and penile amputations have to be done!"~Dr. Jodi Lynn Smith, veterinarian