Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

Rectal prolapse in dogs occurs when part of your dog's rectum protrudes through his anal opening. The rectum is actually a part of the lower intestine, that normally remains inside your dog, just behind the anus. When rectal prolapse occurs, it can look as if your dog has a tube of flesh attached to his anus. Here's what you should know about rectal prolapse in dogs.

Causes of Canine Rectal Prolapse

Vets don't really understand what causes rectal prolapse in dogs. They believe that gastrointestinal parasites are usually responsible. Rectal prolapse occurs most often in puppies younger than six months of age, but can also occur in adult animals.

Symptoms of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

If your dog's rectum is prolapsed, you will be able to see it protruding from the anus. It will look like a pink tube of flesh. It will cause your dog wot strain to relieve himself. Your dog may lick the prolapsed tissue excessively.

Diagnosing Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

If ever you see that your dog appears to have tissue protruding from his anus, take him to the vet right away. Dogs should never have tissue protruding from their anuses; since they do not suffer from hemorrhoids, any tissue protruding from the anus is either rectal or intestinal tissue. 

Your vet will need to physically examine your dog right away to determine if your dog is suffering from rectal prolapse. Your vet will probably insert a probe next to the prolapse tissue to test whether it is intestinal or rectal tissue. If the prolapsed tissue is intestinal, your dog may need surgery to fix it back in place.

In addition to diagnosing rectal prolapse, your vet will look for the cause of your dog's rectal prolapse. Stool samples can help alert your vet to the presence of any gastrointestinal parasites. Abdominal X-rays may also be performed.

Treating Canine Rectal Prolapse

If your dog's prolapsed rectal tissue is still relatively undamaged, your vet may try to fix it back into its proper position with a suture. This suture is generally left in place for about 48 hours.

If your dog's prolapsed rectal tissue is too damaged to save, your vet may surgically remove it. He'll then anchor the rest of your dog's large intestine to the inside of his anus. This procedure may be necessary if your dog's rectal prolapse recurs after having been sutured back into position on a previous occasion.

Your vet will try to avoid performing surgery on your dog's rectum if possible. These surgeries carry serious complications, such as fecal incontinence and infection. That's why it's crucial to get your dog's rectal prolapse treated as soon as possible, while the tissue can still be saved and not amputated.

Until you can get your dog to the vet for treatment, make sure he doesn't lick, bite or chew at the prolapsed rectal tissue. Keep the prolapsed tissue moist with warm, damp cloths to give your dog the best chance of recovery without amputation.