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Ectopic Ureter in Dogs

Ectopic Ureter in Dogs

Health & Safety

An ectopic ureter is a congenital abnormality that affects certain breeds more than others and there are two types with the first being when one of a dog's ureters are displaced which is called unilateral ectopia, and the other being when both open in the vagina or urethra which is referred to as bilateral ectopia.

Breeds Most at Risk

As previously mentioned, some breeds appear to be more predisposed to suffering from this hereditary abnormality than others and this includes the following breeds:

  • Entlebucher Mountain Dog
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Siberian Husky
  • Newfoundland
  • Bulldogs
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Fox Terrier
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Toy Poodle

Symptoms to Watch Out For

Thankfully, the abnormality is rare, but when a dog does inherit the disorder, the signs of there being something wrong could well include the following:

  • Incontinence - occasional and consistent
  • Inflamed vagina - a condition referred to as vaginitis which occurs because of scalding of a dog's vaginal tissue by urine they pass

The Causes

Unfortunately, although it is thought to be a congenital condition that parents can pass on to their offspring the exact reasons why some breeds are more predisposed to developing ectopic ureter than others, remains a bit of a mystery. As such, more research is needed to determine just why this is so.

Diagnosing the Problem

To confirm a diagnosis, a vet would typically recommend carrying out the following test:

  • An urethrocystoscopy
  • X-rays
  • Urethral pressure profilometry

This test enables a vet to see a dog's bladder and to check if the abnormal opening is into the urethra or vagina. It would also help a vet establish whether there are any perforations in a dog's urethra as well as any other inconsistencies in its structure and that of a dog’s bladder.

Treatment Options

When it comes to treating the condition, a vet would need to repair the abnormality in a dog’s urethra which they would do by surgically creating a new opening to the bladder. Alternatively, it might be necessary to remove an infected kidney and then to remove the part of the displaced urethra that’s causing the problem, but only if this is possible.

A dog might remain incontinent even after the abnormality has been repaired because the muscles in their urethra may well have been negatively impacted and could remain weak to some degree during the recovery period after their surgery. It's also worth noting that vets do not generally recommend spaying a dog before their first heat if they are incontinent.

Managing the Condition

Once a dog has undergone the necessary surgery, they would need to be taken for follow up visits to the vet so the success of the procedure can be evaluated. A vet would use a special dye that would be injected into a dog’s vaginal canal which would show how the healing process is coming along. If a dog remains incontinent after the surgery, a vet might recommend elevating their vagina so it supports the neck of the bladder which they would be able to do surgically. Should a male dog remain incontinent, the vet might recommend prescribing a steroid therapy to correct the problem.