Many of the medical
conditions affecting a female dog's reproductive tract are
extremely serious and can even be fatal, although risk of these disorders
can be reduced by spaying. In contrast, few reproductive disorders affecting
the male are life-threatening.
Dangers During Birth
There are several risks to a female dog when giving birth. If she fails to
have successful contractions or has difficult labour, the pups may need to
be delivered by Caesarean section. After birth, there is a risk of
haemorrhage, infection, prolapse or rupture of the uterus, or eclampsia - a
life-threatening loss of calcium from the body. If your dog has difficulties during or after birth, seek urgent veterinary help. X-ray analysis may be used to identify a closed
pyometra; this dangerous condition, caused when pus builds up in the womb,
requires urgent surgery.
Male infertility can occur as a consequence of prostatic or testicular
disease, an under active thyroid, or even a prolonged high fever. Female infertility is difficult to assess, although hormonal blood tests during oestrus may be useful. Each female has her own idiosyncratic oestrous cycle, however, and the most common reason for
unsuccessful mating is miscalculation of the correct time for mating.
Female Reproductive Tract Disorders
SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT
|This is potentially life
threatening, and usually occurs after an oestrous cycle. Bacteria
multiply in the womb and create pus. If the cervix remains open, the
pus escapes through the vagina and out of the vulva. This is known
as an "open pyometra", and is relatively easily diagnosed
and treated. If the cervix is tight, however, pus builds up in the
womb; this is called a "closed pyometra" and clinical
signs develop quickly. A dog with pyometra has increased thirst and
a decreased appetite. She rests more and may or may not have a
vaginal discharge. Untreated, this leads to collapse and shock. If a
dog has a closed pyometra, immediate surgery is needed to remove the
|Vaginitis and juvenile vaginitis
||Vaginitis (inflammation of the
vagina) in adult female dogs causes discomfort, and affected dogs
persistently lick their vulva. Some young pups develop a sticky,
green-yellow vaginal discharge that dries into a hard crusty wick in
the hair on the tip of the vulva. This condition, known as juvenile
vaginitis, almost always spontaneously clears when a pup has her
first season. If your pup is affected, postpone spaying until three
months after her first season.
|In most cases, mammary tumours
appear as hard, pebble-like mobile masses under the skin near teats,
but the most aggressive form causes rapid, painful swelling in
breasts in the groin area. Removal and examination of a lump is the
only guaranteed way of diagnosing mammary tumours. Neutering a
female dog can reduce the risk of mammary tumours: if bitches are
spayed before their first season, the risk is negligible, and even
spaying after the first season still reduces the risk by over 99 per
cent. However, spaying a female dog after she has had about six
oestrous cycles has no effect on the risk of her developing mammary
|Male Reproductive Tract Disorders
A male dog normally produces a
cream-yellow coloured lubricant in the sheath (smegma). Injury
or infection to the sheath or penis can cause increased redness,
excessive drip that may be foul-smelling, and licking. To treat, the
sheath is flushed with warm saline or dilute antiseptic — this
reduces the quantity of discharge. If the problem is due to
bacterial infection, the dog is treated with antibiotics.
out of sheath
During an erection, the
bulbourethral gland on a dog's penis can swell so much it is too
wide to retract into the sheath. If the erection is prolonged, the
penis becomes dry and cannot be withdrawn. To treat this condition,
lubricate the penis with water-soluble jelly and slide it back in
its sheath. If this is not possible, keep it moistened with
lubricant and get veterinary help.
There is a high incidence of cancer
in undescended testicles. Abdominal testicles may be surgically
removed. Partly descended testicles that have passed through the
inguinal ring should be monitored for changes in texture or size,
and removed if and when necessary. Because this condition is
inherited, dogs with partly or completely undescended testicles
should not be used for breeding.
The most likely cause of
testicle enlargement is a testicular tumour. To treat, tumours are
surgically removed and identified by a pathologist. Malignancy is
very rare. Infection or injury from dog bites, frostbite, or contact with corrosive
chemicals can also cause painful enlargement. A moist scrotal skin
infection causes weeping skin damage that heals into a hard,
carapace-like scab, giving the impression of testicle enlargement.
Penetrating injuries are treated with pain killers and antibiotics.
The prostate may become
infected when there is either bladder or urethra infection. All
prostates increase in size with time, reaching maximum size usually
between six and ten years of age. This swelling pushes upon the
floor of the rectum, causing a bottleneck for stool to pass through.
Initial signs of "benign hyperplasia" include difficulty
passing stools. In rare instances hyperplasia can produce small to
enormous prostatic cysts that can cause rectal obstruction. Prostate tumours are
uncommon. A dog may be treated with injections of delmadinone, but
if severe, hyperplasia is reduced by castration.