Congenital and Inherited Disorders of the Ureters, Bladder And Urethra In Dogs

Disorders of the Ureters In Dogs

Congenital disorders can occur in the ureters that connect both the kidneys to the urinary bladder. Urine formed in the kidneys is carried by the ureters to the bladder for temporary storage. Each kidney normally has one ureter each.

Ectopic Ureter

In this disorder, the ureter does not open into the urinary bladder, but it empties into other sites such as the urethra that normally carries the urine from the bladder to the outside. Ectopic ureters may open into the vagina or the uterus in female dogs. Incidentally, this disorder is 8 times more common in females compared to its incidence in males.

Ectopic ureter may have a few other abnormalities associated with it such as smaller sized kidneys and urinary bladder. The urethral sphincter that controls urination may be compromised too, leading to leakage of urine. Ectopic ureters can result in certain complications such as blockage to the flow of the urine which in turn leads to the enlargement of the ureter. It can also cause the kidney to enlarge because of the backflow of urine.

Constant leakage of urine is the most common symptom of ectopic ureter. In females, the continuous leakage of the acidic urine into the vagina can result in its inflammation. If one of the ureters is normal, the dog may urinate through the urethral opening, but the absence of normal urination could be an indication of both ureters being ectopic.

This disorder is most prevalent in miniature and toy breeds such as Poodles, Fox Terriers and West Highland White Terriers. The incidence is comparatively high in Labrador Retrievers Siberian Huskies too. X-rays can help diagnose ectopic ureters. A radioopaque dye is administered before taking the x-rays to get a clear picture of the ureters. Surgical correction of ectopic ureters is possible. The distal end of the abnormal ureter is detached from its location and reattached to the bladder. In a few cases, this repositioning may not be viable, and the faulty ureter may have to be removed along with the corresponding kidney.

Other Disorders of the Ureter

A few other disorders of the ureter such as multiple ureters or failure of the ureter to develop may also occur in dogs. In some cases, the distal end of the ureter may be enlarged at the point where it joins the urinary bladder. This can be surgically corrected.

Disorders of the Urinary Bladder In Dogs

The urinary bladder temporarily stores the urine that is formed in the kidneys. This muscular organ may have a few congenital disorders, some of which may be inherited as well.

Urachal Remnants

The urachus is tubular fetal structure connecting the urinary bladder and the umbilical cord. Its function is the removal of wastes when the fetus is inside the womb. Following the birth of the puppy, this tube becomes redundant, and it closes up to form a solid cord made up of fibrous tissue, extending between the navel and the urinary bladder. If the urachus remains open after birth, it can cause certain problems such as the development of urachal cysts, or urachal diverticula that consist of sac-like structures. In some cases, the urachus remains patent or it forms an umbilical urachal sinus.

The common symptoms are lack of control of urination, frequent urinary tract infections and urine scalding of the naval area resulting from the acidic urine. When the veterinarian suspects this disorder from its symptoms, an x-ray taken using a radioopaque dye helps confirm the diagnosis. The infections may be treated with antibiotics, but surgical correction may be required to resolve the problem.

Other Disorders of the Bladder

Dogs may have a few other congenital disorders affecting the bladder. They include an inside-out, or otherwise abnormally developed bladder as well as ones that have failed to develop or remain underdeveloped. In some cases multiple bladders may occur. These disorders are usually accompanied by other urinary tract disorders. A physical examination as well as observing the dog when it is passing urine may help detect some of these problems. X-rays may help in diagnosing several structural abnormalities. A contrast dye is usually used to get a clearer picture. The veterinarian may discuss different treatment options, including surgical correction of the defect.

Disorders of the Urethra

Urethra is the tube through which the urine comes out of the urinary bladder and it gets excreted through the urethral opening. Dogs rarely have congenital disorders affecting the urethra, but occasionally certain abnormalities such as incomplete opening or complete blockage of the urethra, multiple urethras, abnormal positioning of the urethral opening as in hypospadias, and urethrorectal fistula may occur. In some cases, the urethra may become narrowed or small pouches called urethral diverticula may develop.


Hypospadias is a congenital disorder that affects male dogs. The abnormal positioning of the urethral opening on the penis is the characteristic sign of this disorder. Instead of being at the tip of the penis, it may be located on the underside of it. This often results in urine scalding because of the acidic nature of the urine. Abnormal fetal development is the cause of this disorder. The penis and the testicles also may be underdeveloped in dogs with hypospadias. Urinary tract infections are also more frequent in them. Surgical correction of the abnormality is possible.

Urethrorectal Fistula

Dogs with this abnormality have an extra opening in the area between the rectum and the urethra. This disorder is prevalent in English Bulldogs. Frequent urinary tract infections are common in dogs having urethrorectal fistula. They may have difficulty urinating, with the urine coming out of the rectum while passing the urine. Traces of blood may be found in the urine too. Surgical correction of the fistula is the treatment.

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