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Key takeaways

The urethra is the tube that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Urethral prolapse describes urethral tissue protruding from the opening; this happens almost exclusively in male dogs and looks like a red mass at the tip of the penis.

  • The disorder may be asymptomatic, or cause excessive genital licking, excessive urination, blood in the urine, or penile bleeding
  • Potential causes include excessive sexual activity/excitement, urinary tract infections, or urethral stones
  • Diagnostics include visualization of the prolapse, urinalysis and culture, x-rays, and tissue sampling
  • Asymptomatic patients may not need treatment
  • Treatment involves surgical correction along with management of concurrent problems
  • The prognosis is generally good, but recurrence is common
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A closer look: Urethral Prolapse in Dogs

The urethra is the tube which transports urine from the bladder to outside of the body. Symptoms may be painful and warrant prompt veterinary attention. It is not an emergency if the dog is still able to pass urine. Any dog struggling to pass urine normally should be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately, as a urinary obstruction is an emergency.

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Risk factors

Potential risk factors include excessive sexual activity, urinary tract infections, stones in the urethra, and breed predilection. It is most common in young, male, intact English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Yorkshire Terriers.

Urethral prolapse is uncommon in dogs overall, with males and English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, and Yorkshire Terriers being overrepresented. Breed predisposition has led to the hypothesis that increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by breathing difficulties may contribute to urethral prolapse.

Possible causes

The exact cause of urethral prolapse is unknown. Given that it is most common in brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds, it has been hypothesized that increased intra-abdominal pressure caused by breathing difficulties may contribute.

Main symptoms

One of the main symptoms includes a red, pea-shaped mass visible on the end of penis which may only be present or worsen with erection.

Testing and diagnosis

Veterinary care for a urethral prolapse starts with a full physical exam. Diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical signs and visualization of the prolapse. Underlying urinary tract disease is ruled out with additional tests, such as urinalysis with culture and abdominal x-rays. Tissue sampling (cytology) may be used to ensure that the prolapse is not a cancerous mass.

Steps to Recovery

Treatment of the prolapse involves surgical correction. Choice of surgical technique depends on the severity of prolapse and whether or not it is recurrent.

Any concurrent urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics, pain medications, and/or anti-inflammatories. Elizabethan collars are recommended to prevent injury to the surgical site. Sedative medication may be prescribed to avoid overexcitation during the recovery period.

In some cases, multiple attempts at surgical correction may be required. If multiple surgical attempts fail to cure a prolapse, penile amputation and scrotal urethrostomy are options. Prognosis is favorable with treatment, but recurrence is common.


Prevention of urethral prolapse may involve limiting sexual activity. E-collars and keeping dogs quiet following surgery may help prevent recurrence.

Is Urethral Prolapse in Dogs common?

Urethral prolapse is uncommon in dogs.

Typical Treatment

  • Surgery
  • Pain medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Treatment of concurrent conditions
  • Antibiotics
  • Elizabethan collar
  • Limiting sexual activity and excitement

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