The Ins and Outs of Paraphimosis in Dogs

Paraphimosis in dogs.

One of the more endearing qualities of the canine species is the lack of any kind of shame. Whether your dog unabashedly passes gas during your dinner party or decides to help itself to the contents of the litter box, something about those pure actions without the worry of judgment is admirable. The same can be said for a dog proudly displaying his private parts. But what happens when a doggy erection isn’t going away? Keep reading to learn Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital’s take on paraphimosis in dogs. 

Your Dog’s Business

For the most part, pet owners do not need to have intimate knowledge about their dog’s reproductive organs. Basic male and female parts carry across most mammalian species, and you likely don’t see much of your dog’s penis except for an occasional slip of the red rocket.

Practically, though, it is somewhat helpful to understand a little canine anatomy. The male dog has testicles (which are typically removed at the time of neutering) and an external sheath, or prepuce. This externally visible pouch-like structure houses the glans of the penis, which emerges when the dog becomes excited or aroused. The glans is the infamous doggy lipstick and contains an actual bone called the os penis. 

Sometimes pet owners will also notice the two ball-like swellings that can come and go at the base of the penis. These are not retained testicles as many assume, but rather a secondary sex gland called the bulbourethral gland.

The bulbourethral gland engorges with ejaculation (or sometimes just if your pet becomes really overexcited). This helps to keep the glans penis extruded and results in the characteristic tie noted when two dogs breed. A post-coital tie, which lasts around twenty minutes, helps to keep the male’s semen inside the female to help the likelihood of a successful breeding. 

When Paraphimosis in Dogs Happens

The glans penis can make an appearance even in neutered or non-breeding animals. This is somewhat normal and typically nothing to worry about. 

If the penis remains exposed for an abnormal amount of time, however, this can become an issue. The medical term for this is paraphimosis. 

Paraphimosis in dogs can occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes a physical obstruction such as a tumor, foreign object, or ring of hair inside the prepuce can prevent retraction. Other times a trauma, neurological deficit, or congenital abnormality can lead to the dog’s penis being stuck out.

It is important to note that seeing your dog’s glans penis out is not cause for major concern. Paraphimosis in dogs, however, is a pet emergency. Contact us right away if:

  • The glans penis has remained extruded for more than 30 minutes
  • The surface of the penis appears discolored, dry, or irritated
  • The penis appears swollen
  • Your pet seems bothered by the glans being out
  • Your pet is unable to urinate

Sometimes a little lubrication is all it takes for us to help your pet return to normal. If there is an underlying cause that can be corrected, it is important to do so.

There are situations in which surgery is required to help keep the glans penis where it belongs. When the penis has remained extruded for long lengths of time surgery may also be necessary to remove dead or dying portions. 

There’s no need to worry if your dog shows off his male anatomy from time to time, but it is important to make sure that everyone goes back to where they belong before too long. A doggy erection is no big deal, but paraphimosis in dogs can be a pretty serious thing. To learn more about this and other phenomena, please call your friends at Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital at (615) 646-7387.