Among the various complications that may occur after neutering dogs, the presence of "swollen testicles" in dogs after neutering may cause dog owners to go into a panic. A swollen scrotum is mostly seen in dogs who are overly active and licking and scratching at the incision area. Of course, such complication seems to always happen after hours or on week-ends when the vet's office is closed. So are swollen testicles after neutering something to worry about? Well, for starters, it's more correct to say "swollen scrotum" considering that dogs' testicles have been removed as part of the surgery! While a swollen scrotum is not normal, it's not uncommon either and the best course of action is informing your vet about the swelling just to play it safe.
Tissue Reaction To Surgery
After your dog has gone through a surgery such as being neutered, it's quite normal and expected to see a little bit of swelling. The swelling is generally mild and is simply caused by the local tissue's reaction to the surgery, explains veterinarian Dr. B. Generally, this type of swelling is self-limited and tends to subside after a few days.
Your vet has likely taken precautions by sending you home with some safe anti-inflammatory drugs such as Metacam or Rimadyl. If you weren't sent home with these medications, you should give your vet a call and discuss whether they may be necessary.
Applying warm compresses using a clean, moist washcloth to the area may help reduce the localized swelling and help the tissues recover. Fortunately, tissue reactions don’t tend to cause any significant issues explains Dr. B, but it's important to keep an eye on the area just to make sure the tissue is healing properly.
Scrotal Hematoma in Dogs
A hematoma is basically a collection of blood oozing from under the dog's subcutaneous tissues (dog's skin). This condition is commonly seen in dogs who were allowed to be too active. For a good reason, vets' orders say to keep a recently neutered dog calm; too much activity is a trigger that may cause a blood vessel to ooze within the surgical site and form a swollen area.
Affected dogs should be kept calm and prevented from licking the area. The use of an Elizabethan collar may come handy to prevent dogs from bothering the incision area. If the area is not oozing blood, it may help to apply warm compresses two to three times a day, but it's best to practice caution if the affected dog is in pain. Eventually, the area should start oozing a fluid that's watery and bloody for a couple of days and then it should start healing, explains veterinarian Dr. Gary
If you suspect your dog has a scrotal hematoma, consult with your vet. If your vet hasn't already, medications may be prescribed to help decrease the pain and swelling. Like in the case of tissue inflammation, after a while, the hematoma should resorbed, as part of the healing process.
For challenging cases, where there is the formation of a big scrotal hematoma, surgical intervention may be needed. A scrotal ablation surgery may help resolve the issue when the hematoma gets out of hand and becomes large and painful, further explains Dr. Gary.
Seroma of Incision Site
A seroma, unlike a hematoma, is the collection of serum, a liquid that separates out when blood coagulates and that appears as blood-tinged fluid. Seromas are quite common in larger dogs after they are castrated, explains veterinarian Dr. BJ Hughes. As the affected dog moves about, stitches end up irritating the surrounding tissue. In such a case, the treatment is quite similar, keeping the dog quiet and from licking and bothering the area and perhaps, the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. An antibiotic may be prescribed as well.
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An Elizabethan collar or taste aversion-spray such as Bitter Apple or Bitter Orange spray around the incision area may help discourage the dog from licking. An alternative option to an Elizabethan collar is sliding a T-shirt on the dog's back legs through the sleeves and then securing it on the back wit a knot. This should prevent access to the incision. "Out of sight, out of mind" can work for many dogs. You will still have to monitor though as some dogs manage to push the shirt off.
Again, warm compresses to the area can help provide relief and reduce some swelling. If the area appears raw, then plain Neosporin on the incision site may help, but shouldn't be applied more than twice daily. Generally, the serum will gets reabsorbed within 10 days and any visible swelling should have gone down by that time.
A Potential Infection
Infections are always a possible complication seen in dogs undergoing surgery. In this case, it could happen that a piece of hair gets stuck in the incision and an infection may set in, explains veterinarian Dr. Alleyne. Other possible causes are excessive licking and chewing directed at the incision site or simply getting the incision site dirty from the dog spending time being outside in the dirt.
Signs of an infection are localized swelling and presence of yellow, green or brown fluid coming out which can be suggestive of a scrotal abscess.
Keeping dogs quiet and leash-walking the dog on outings to potty is important to prevent infections. So is making sure the dog doesn't lick the area which means risks of introducing bacteria.
Affected dogs are treated with antibiotics and the infection generally improves within 48 hours, and subsides about a week after treatment, according to veterinarian Dr. Peter. See your vet if the area doesn't shrink and improve in a week.
Importance of Consulting with Vet
If your dog has swelling after being neutered, your best bet is to see the vet. As seen, there are several causes of swelling of the testicles in recently neutered dogs and your dog may require further medications to get better.
If your dog was recently neutered and becomes lethargic, refuses to eat, is panting heavily and his abdomen is becoming distended and there is considerable bruising or dark red bleeding, see your emergency vet.
These can be signs of bleeding into the dog's belly which can turn life threatening left untreated. Such postoperative complication can be seen in particular in dogs suffering from blood clotting disorders such as Willebrand's disease, hemophilia, and from exposure to rat poison.
Fortunately, most cases of testicle swelling after a dog is neutered can be easily treated and are self-limited, but it's always best to err on the side of caution and discuss with your vet. Give your vet a call and express your concerns. Chances are, you may just need to pick up some medications, and if your vet needs to see your dog, consider that most vets will offer check-ups following a surgery for free or at a discounted price so to ensure nothing is amiss.
So if you have a possible complication on your hands and your dog's "testicles" appear really swollen or discolored, it's important that you contact your vet promptly so that you can be provided with proper guidance on what to do next.