Phimosis is the inability of a dog to protrude an erect penis/glans through an abnormally small preputial orifice. Dog’s prepuce is the skin sheath that covers the penis under wraps.
Phimosis can quickly turn into an emergency situation; skin at the preputial orifice becomes inverted leading to constriction of blood flow, necrosis (resulting from the disruption of membrane homeostasis), and potential damage to the urethra.
Phimosis and Paraphimosis are abnormalities that occur involving the penis and its ability to protrude or retract from the prepuce. Paraphimosis refers to the presence of a distended (engorged) penis that cannot return to its storage position (preputial sheath). Phimosis is caused due to the stenosis of the orifice of the prepuce so that it cannot protrude its penis from its outer orifice. The causes of both are different.
While not so common, Phimosis/paraphimosis in dogs accounts for approximately 5 percent of penile problems and can cause distress to dogs (and their owners). If left untreated or if it becomes a recurring issue, this can have more serious consequences.
- Unable to stick out penis due to narrow orifice.
- Posthitis (swelling of the foreskin of the penis).
- Anxious, licking, and paying a lot of attention to the penis.
- Inflammation of the penis or prepuce.
- Analgesics (drugs to relieve pain).
- IV may be used for rapid medication administration or fluid therapy.
- Use a dilute antiseptic solution (eg, chlorhexidine or dilute povidone-iodine) to irrigate the preputial sheath.
- Laser Circumcision: This is a minimally invasive procedure and the foreskin is removed surgically with less tissue damage and pain.
Below are some things you can do in the home (this is not for the squeamish!):
- First, clean the exposed penis thoroughly and check for any foreign material “strangulating” the tissues of the penis such as long fur or foxtails.
- Apply a thin layer of steroid cream abundantly to the entire foreskin. Gently massage the cream over the foreskin and try to pull back the foreskin.
- Take a light towel and wrap up a bag of frozen peas. Place the packaged peas over the affected area for some time, which also helps to decrease swelling of the tissues.
- Lubricant (personal, sterile surgical, moisturizing lotion, or K-Y jelly) should be applied, and softly try to slide inside the prepuce over the glans.
- If the penis does not protrude over the prepuce, then look for immediate veterinary assistance.
- It’s best that a trained vet performs the above treatments as it is beyond the owner’s ability.
- Hygiene: Usually dogs self-clean their genitals, but there will be times you may need to clean those using non-scented wipes or just give a quick rinse in running water. Dogs might need a grooming every so often to avoid infections.
- Use an Elizabethan collar to prevent the dog from excessive licking and self-trauma.
- A congenital deformity of the glans penis or prepuce.
- Scar tissue
- Edema, or water retention, within the penis.
- Neurological Problems (penis fractures, herniation of a disc in the spinal cord).
Congenital Phimosis: This is inherited and in most cases it requires surgery.
Pathological Phimosis: This occurs due to infections, swelling, injuries, scarring, or other underlying medical conditions.
Phimosis vs Paraphimosis:
Paraphimosis is the inability to retract the distended (engorged) penis to its storage position (preputial sheath). Phimosis is caused by entrapment of the penis in the retracted position within the prepuce.
Phimosis vs Penile / Preputial Frenulum:
Sometimes the preputial orifice may be technically large enough, but the Preputial frenulum – ruffle of the foreskin in ventrum of the penis extends to the prepuce and attaches to the head of the penis (the glans) resulting in phimosis.
If left untreated, phimosis becomes a urologic emergency, and can result in infection, urine scalding, balanitis, posthitis, paraphimosis, penile carcinoma, and your dog may even hurt itself in the attempts to mate.
- Routine Hematology, Urinalysis
- Serum Chemistry Profile
- Stress Leukogram
As phimosis is not a disease in itself and it is a symptom, treatment will depend on the predisposing cause (mostly idiopathic).
Mild phimosis may not even require treatment but will be able to resolve in due time.
In more acute cases of doubtful or difficult conditions, always consult a veterinarian.
Time to visit the vet clinic for an examination, if you notice any of the following:
- The penis is stuck in for a prolonged period.
- Inflammation of the penis or prepuce.
Untreated condition results in more serious infections:
- Penis and foreskin scarring.
- Abscess on penis or foreskin.
- Paraphimosis (the inability to retract the foreskin or prepuce).
- Balanitis, Posthitis
- Reduced Libido
- Penile Carcinoma
What to feed?
- Look for lean cuts as it is easier to digest.
- Pack the diet with easy-to-digest fatty proteins like lamb, chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs.
- Brown Rice, lukewarm (never hot) chicken soup with Low sodium or chicken breast and cooked vegetables are perfect for the ailing pup.
- Organ meats(liver), poultry, pork, and fish should be thoroughly cooked to kill any germs.
- Meat-flavored baby food or semi-moist pet food with boiled chicken.
- Leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, Lettuce).
- Poultry like chicken and turkey.
- Turmeric, Red Bell Peppers
- Broth or stock of boiled chicken bones.
- Tuna, salmon, cod, whiting, whitefish, trout, mackerel, sardines, and herring.
- Cooked or raw liver, Red Meat.
- Plant-based proteins peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
- Canned Pumpkin, Carrots
- Berries, Apples, Banana
If you suspect that your adult dog’s penis is trapped inside the prepuce, do not wait to seek treatment.
Maybe neutering the dog offers some help in minimizing subsequent incidences, although there are no definite ways to prevent the condition.