The decision to spay or neuter a pet is one every family must make for themselves. But for one dog named Dice, neutering turned out to be part of the treatment he needed to help avoid an unusual injury.
One Friday night, Dice came to The COVE’s ER because he was bleeding from his penis. An exam revealed that he was an otherwise healthy 8-month-old, intact (not neutered) pit bull mix dog with no signs of cardiac disease, but he did have a urethral prolapse. This is when the tip of the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder and is usually concealed inside the penis, extends out. When prolapsed urethra occurs, the exposed urethra may be swollen, red, or purplish, and it causes pain and irritation to the dog.
Prolapses are emergencies in dogs because not only can the urethra become obstructed or injured, but it can also cause straining to urinate, making the prolapse worse. Dice was also actively bleeding from the area, which meant he needed emergency treatment. We gave him pain medications and an e-collar so he couldn’t reach the affected area, and since surgical repair was needed, we referred him to The COVE’s Surgery department.
The reason why Dice developed the prolapse also influenced what happened next. He wasn’t neutered, and his family said they had been planning to breed him. They said he was prone to humping things and excessively licking his genital area. The lightbulb went off because prolonged sexual excitement in a male dog can lead to prolapse.
Dogs who experience a urethral prolapse are prone to them happening again, especially if they remain intact. For Dice, it was almost certain that correcting the urethral prolapse would only be a temporary solution, and he would likely experience the same pain and require treatment again. So, after meeting with our surgery team, led by Dr. Jeff Stallings DVM, DACVS, Dice’s family decided to have him neutered at the same time as the prolapse was repaired. That would remove the likelihood that a prolapse would occur in the future.
Dice was scheduled for surgery the following Tuesday, and as part of his pre-surgical exam, we did a full cardiac workup to prepare for anesthesia. He had no heart murmur at that time, but his family did mention he was eating a grain-free diet. Because we know that dogs who eat exclusively boutique and grain-free diets are at increased risk of developing dilated cardiomyopathy, we shared a brochure on the subject with the family to help educate them. We recommend switching from a grain-free diet even if we don’t spot early signs of heart disease, just because of the increased risk.
Dice’s surgery for the prolapse and neutering went well, and he developed no complications. His owners did a great job of following through on his post-surgical care, and at his two-week recheck, he was healing well.
Young male intact dogs like Dice often experience hormone spikes that result in humping, licking, and heightened excitement. People are sometimes amused by this behavior, but it can be harmful if that hormone-driven energy isn’t redirected safely. If you’re planning to breed a male dog, he needs to be heavily exercised and highly stimulated in other ways – providing lots of toys, training, and environmental enrichment – to distract him. Neutering, of course, reduces those hormone levels
If you have questions about whether neutering is right for your pet, give us a call at (757) 935-9111. And if your pet ever experiences an emergency, The COVE is here for you 24/7.