How to Treat a Puppy With a Rectal Prolapse

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Treatment for a rectal prolapse in dogs needs to be initiated as soon as possible to prevent serious complications. Attempting to treat a prolapsed rectum at home will only delay treatment for a condition where every second counts. While there's not much you can do at home, you can take some precautionary measures to prevent further damage to the area until your dog can get a physical examination from a veterinarian. Treatment for rectal prolapse (also known as anal prolapse) involves fixing the prolapse and addressing the underlying causes of rectal prolapse.

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Understanding rectal prolapse in dogs

In a normal, healthy dog, the rectum stays put where it's supposed to be. In a dog with a rectal prolapse, one or more layers of the rectum slip down out of place, and you will notice protrusion through the anal opening. The prolapse may be incomplete when only the innermost layer of the rectal tissue temporarily slips out when the dog defecates, or it may be complete when the prolapsed mass is persistently protruding. Rectal prolapse most commonly affects puppies under 6 months of age who have frequent bouts of gastrointestinal symptoms, such as severe diarrhea or constipation. Both male dogs and female dogs can suffer from anal prolapse.

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Unlike humans, dogs do not get hemorrhoids, so if you notice any tissue protruding from the anal opening, it's something abnormal that warrants a prompt veterinarian visit.

The importance of seeking treatment for your dog's rectal prolapse

You don't want to waste time on home remedies when it comes to treatment of rectal prolapse. Veterinary medicine experience is absolutely crucial to find the cause of the prolapse. Common causes include anal sac disease, anal tumors, perineal hernia, and stones in the urinary tract.

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Failure to seek treatment in a timely matter can lead to a severe, complete prolapse, in which the protruding tissue becomes traumatized and eventually dies, turning blue or black in appearance as seen in chronic cases. Most importantly, if left untreated, a puppy with rectal prolapse will be unable to poop, which leads to severe illness and eventually death. Timing is of the essence with this condition.

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First-aid treatment to get you through until your dog’s appointment

While you prepare for the upcoming veterinarian visit, you can take some precautionary measures to keep the area clean and prevent further damage to the prolapsed tissue. Spray the protruding tissue with some sterile saline contact lens solution placed into a squirt bottle or you can make your own version of saline by mixing 1 1/4 teaspoons of table salt with a pint of lukewarm water.

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Wear disposable gloves and liberally lubricate the area with KY jelly. Wrap the area with a towel moistened with saline solution and have a helper keep it in place while you're on the way to your veterinarian for a full rectal exam.

If your dog tries to lick or chew the area, an Elizabethan collar can help prevent access and prevent further damage.

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Treating your dog's underlying condition

Once at the veterinarian, treatment will vary based on the underlying cause. For instance, if the puppy has developed repeated bouts of diarrhea, it's important to determine the underlying cause for it. If the diarrhea turns out to be triggered by a viral infection, a bout of antibiotics may be needed; if it's triggered by a parasitic infestation, an anti-parasitic drug will need to be administered. While identifying and treating the underlying cause is a key component of treatment, the prolapse will also need to be addressed.

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Treating your dog's prolapsed rectum

During your dog's exam, the veterinarian will likely perform abdominal X-rays or an ultrasound. If the rectal tissue is still alive, the veterinarian may manage to push the prolapsed rectum back into its normal position and temporarily suture the area to prevent another prolapse. If the tissue is dry, severely traumatized, or dead, the veterinarian may need to perform surgery to amputate the damaged portion.

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Because of the risk for infections and fecal incontinence, it's best to avoid surgery in the first place by seeking prompt veterinary attention at the first sign of problems. After treatment has been completed, your dog's veterinarian may recommend feeding your dog a moist diet and giving them a stool softener.

The bottom line

If you notice anything out of the ordinary about your dog's defecation habits, it's crucial to keep a close eye on their symptoms and reach out to your DVM. If your dog happens to have rectal prolapse, this is a very serious condition that requires prompt treatment from your veterinarian. After a rectal exam and some tests, your veterinarian can proceed with the best course of treatment and help you keep your dog comfortable in the days ahead.

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