Reproductive Disorders of Male Dogs

Many reproductive disorders and diseases may occur in male dogs. Some of the most common disorders are explained here.

Cryptorchidism

When the testicles have not descended into the scrotum, it is referred to as cryptorchidism. It is a common developmental defect in dogs. In most cases, it is a genetic trait inherited from one parent or the other. When both the testicles have not descended, it results in infertility. However, the dog may display mating behavior because of the sex hormones produced by testicles that remain within the pelvic region. When only one of the testicles is not descended, it is referred to as unilateral cryptorchidism. Dogs with this condition are usually fertile because of the sperms produced by the descended testicle. However, they should not be allowed to breed, as they can pass on this hereditary trait to their offspring.

Cryptorchidism is found in all dog breeds, but miniature breeds such as Dachshunds, Pekingese, Miniature Schnauzer, Pomeranian, Maltese, Shetland sheepdog, English bulldog, Boxer, Chihuahua, and miniature Poodles are the most affected. Since cryptorchidism is associated with testicular cancer, it is recommended that dogs found to be having this abnormality be neutered.

Inflammation of the Testes and Epididymis

The testis and epididymis of the dogs may get inflamed due to infections or injuries. Swelling of the scrotum, testes, or epididymides, accompanied by pain is the main symptom of the inflammation. The scrotum may have abnormalities such as lesions or wounds too. A physical examination, followed by laboratory tests and ultrasound scans, may help detect the disease. Cold packs are applied to the scrotum to reduce the damage to the testicles caused by the inflammation. If the cause is identified, treatment may be possible. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotic drugs. Autoimmune diseases may also cause inflammation of the testis and epididymis. In such cases, the dogs may be treated with immuno-suppressant drugs. Castration is the best option if inflammations occur frequently, especially if the dog is not reared for breeding.

Chronic inflammation of the testis and the epididymis often occurs after frequent short-term inflammations. In some cases, the testes may not be involved. Other than infertility, this long-term inflammation may not display any symptoms. The testes may become soft and reduced in size. This condition may result from exposure to high heat, cold, pressure or toxic substances too, besides the effect of hormones. Castration is considered whenever feasible.

Inflammation of the Penis and Prepuce (Balanoposthitis)

Inflammation of the penis and the prepuce, (the skin that normally covers the penis when it is retracted), is referred to as balanoposthitis. Most sexually active adult dogs may have mild forms of this inflammatory condition, but they may not require any specific treatment. Severe forms of balanoposthitis may be caused by trauma, allergies, bacterial infection or foreign bodies. Dogs with an abnormal condition called phimosis, in which the penis is restricted by the prepuce, may develop balanoposthitis as well.

Draining of a yellow-green discharge from the penis is a common symptom. Pain and swelling are rare, but if they are present, it indicates the presence of a foreign body or some trauma that has occurred. A physical examination followed by lab tests helps confirm the disease. If bacterial infections are present, antibiotic treatment is initiated. Otherwise, the preputial cavity is flushed with a saline solution or an antiseptic. The hair from around the preputial opening is clipped short too. Neutering the dog is an option.

Paraphimosis

When the dog is unable retract its penis back into the preputial cavity after an erection, it is referred to as paraphimosis. It often occurs after the dog breeds or when it has been subjected to the collection of sperm. The extended penis may get trapped by the tight skin around the preputial opening, cutting off blood supply. Sometimes a ring of hair or some traumatic injury suffered by the penis may be causing the constriction. Paraphimosis requires immediate medical intervention as the trapped penis may rapidly swell up and become painful. It may dry out too. Paraphimosis can be easily treated before the penis gets swollen by cleaning and lubricating the extended portion of the penis and gently guiding it back into the prepuce. When the blood circulation resumes, the swelling may subside.

Phimosis

Phimosis is a physical barrier to mating, resulting from the inability to extend the penis because of very small size of the preputial opening. This abnormality may be due to hereditary factors or it may be caused by physical trauma or injury. Bacterial infections and inflammation may result in phimosis. It may be congenital, or may have developed later on, but may remain unnoticed for a long time. Only when the dog is found to be unable to mate that phimosis is suspected. It can be diagnosed by examining the penis and the prepuce. Phimosis is treated in different ways depending on the extent of the abnormality and whether the dog is reared for mating or not. No treatment is required in a non-breeding dog, even though the veterinarian may suggest neutering it. It avoids unnecessary frustration because of being unable to copulate, in spite of getting aroused.

Disorders of the Prostate

This small gland is situated behind the urinary bladder, in the pelvic region of the dog. A hormone called dihydrotestosterone determines the size of this gland in adult dogs. Even though prostate gland is not necessary for producing sperms, it has a role in the production of the semen which carries the sperms. It provides sustenance to the sperms, and facilitates their easy movement through the reproductive tract.

Prostate gland disorders and diseases are prevalent in unneutered dogs. Some of the common disorders are prostate gland enlargement referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia, formation of cysts, tumors, infections, and inflammatory conditions. Besides causing symptoms such as fever, pain and stiffness in the abdomen and the pelvic region, loss of appetite and general malaise, almost all the disorders may result in prostate enlargement too.

A thorough physical examination, followed x-rays and ultrasound scans, may help detect the various disease conditions and disorders affecting the prostate. The semen and the blood are tested to determine the cause of infections and inflammations.

Enlargement of the Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia)

Prostate enlargement is a benign condition commonly occurring in dogs. It is an effect produced by the male hormones; hence neutered dogs are free of this condition. All other dogs aged six years or more may be affected by this condition. In many cases, enlargement of prostate may remain asymptomatic, but some dogs may display symptoms such as straining while defecating and passing urine in blood. Except in dogs reared for breeding purposes, neutering is done to remove the source of the male hormones. Following the surgery, there will be marked reduction in the prostate size within 2-3 weeks.

Prostatitis

The inflammatory condition of the prostate is referred to as prostatitis. Bacterial infections are the usual cause. Abscesses may form in the prostate due to the infection. The symptoms of prostatitis resemble those of prostate hyperplasia (benign enlargement of prostate). Bacterial infections may cause additional symptoms such as fever, general malaise and pain. Abscesses draining pus and fluids may cause dehydration and may result in shock. A thorough physical examination, followed by blood tests and x-rays, may help confirm the inflammation. Chronic prostatitis may remain asymptomatic, but the dog may have frequent urinary tract infections. Prostatitis due to bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotic therapy, but a long course may be required. The dog may be neutered to accelerate the treatment.

Prostatic and Paraprostatic Cysts

Cysts may be formed within the prostate gland or very near to it, some of them growing to very large sizes. The symptoms due to the growth of cysts may begin to appear when they become big enough to exert pressure on the tissues and organs nearby. They are similar to the symptoms of prostate enlargement. The abdomen may be distended if the cyst is very large. Medications may not help in treating prostatic cysts. Surgical removal is the best option in most cases. It may be possible to drain the cyst by a minimally invasive surgical procedure guided by ultrasonography. The dog may be neutered after the removal of the cyst to reduce the chances of recurrence.

Prostate Cancer

Cancer of the prostate is not very common in dogs, but when it occurs, it is a serious and potentially fatal condition. Neutering the dog does not offer any immunity against prostate cancer. The symptoms of cancer may appear very similar to the typical symptoms of other diseases affecting the prostate, so they may go unrecognized. The dog may have fever and pain. The spread of the cancer to nearby tissues and other organs may result in the typical symptoms of the respective organ involvement too. Even though prostate cancer cannot be cured, the dog may be referred to a veterinary oncologist to decide on the best treatment.

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