Now that the Texas snowmaggedon is over, I hope everyone is doing well. As usual, I want to welcome you to my little corner of veterinary advice and thoughts that I love to share. The topic for this column is sex.
Now that I’ve got your attention (lol), let me explain what I will be discussing in regards to sex: There are certain issues or diseases associated with genitalia and reproductive organs that dogs and cats can have. We will start with discussing some of the male issues.
Male dogs can present a not-so-pleasant picture when it comes to their penises: smegma! This is a green discharge that comes from the prepuce in their penises, and it is far more commonly seen with intact male dogs (dogs that have not been fixed or neutered). It rarely is associated with an actual infection but sometimes can be indicative of issues. If your dog has this discharge and licks his penis constantly, there may be a valid reason to have him examined by your veterinarian.
Male dogs really do honor the term “boner,” as they have a bone inside their penises. This bone, called os penis, can be an issue if a dog develops bladder stones, which are usually formed due to changes in urine pH and can be associated with urinary tract infections as well. As the urethra travels from the bladder to the outside world, it is associated with this bone as it goes through the penis.
If a bladder stone is small enough to go into the urethra, it can get lodged at the os penis and cause a urinary tract obstruction, which is considered an emergency. Male cats do not have an os penis, but they have relatively small urethras, and bladder stones or grit can get lodged in the urethra and cause an obstruction. These poor babies are usually seen attempting to urinate but being unable to, and they may even scream in pain.
Other serious conditions include testicular cancer, same as can also be seen in human men. In addition, if a dog or cat may have a testicle (or two) that did not descend into the scrotum, he would be more prone to developing testicular cancer. This can be avoided with neutering, with both testicles being removed.
Prostatic disease and cancer also happen but are more prevalent with intact dogs than with neutered dogs.
Now let’s talk about the girls. A very common thing I see with female dogs is that they often have a hooded or recessed vulva. This means they have excessive skin on top of their privates which covers the vulva and can lead to localized irritation or infection. These girls are also more prone to developing urinary tract infections especially if the area around the vulva is not kept clean. Your veterinarian can confirm if your baby girl has this issue or not, and, if so, he or she may recommend using baby wipes to maintain hygiene. If the issue is severe enough, a surgery may be necessary to remove the excess skin (almost like a face lift, but at the other end, lol).
Female dogs go into their heat cycle, or “period” every 6 months or so, while female cats can go into a heat cycle multiple times per year. Female dogs and cats can get a condition called pyometra where, within a month or two after a heat cycle, their uterus gets filled with bacteria and pus.
This is more commonly seen with more mature female dogs and cats but can happen at almost any age. Symptoms include green discharge from the vulva, lethargy, vomiting and excessive water intake, among other things. This condition is considered life threatening, and it is corrected with a more complicated version of the spay surgery.
Like their male counterparts, female dogs and cats can suffer from different types of cancer that affect the reproductive organs, including ovarian, uterine and breast cancer. A traditional spay surgery involves removing the ovaries and the uterus, which means that the possibility of acquiring a type of cancer that affects these organs becomes nonexistent. Breast cancer can still be seen, but the younger a cat or dog is spayed (usually starting at 5-6 months of age), the less likely they are to develop breast cancer.
Needless to say, there are more conditions and issues that can be seen with the reproductive organs. But the ones I presented here are some of the more common ones. As always, I truly hope this column has given you tools to continue to take amazing care of your fur babies!! Abrazos, mi gente bella!
Dr. Josh owns Isla Veterinary Boutique Hospital at 14380 Marsh Ln. Ste. 110 in Addison (next to Tom Thumb). Call the hospital at 972-738-1111 or visit online at IslaVet.com.