How to Treat a Puppy With a Rectal Prolapse

By Adrienne Farricelli

Treatment for a puppy with a rectal prolapse needs to be initiated as soon as possible to prevent serious complications. Attempting to treat a prolapsed rectum at home will only delay treatment in 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 you can get veterinary help. Treatment for rectal prolapse involves fixing the prolapse and addressing the underlying problem.

Understanding the Problem

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 dog's rectum slip down out of place and protrude 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 complete, when the prolapsed mass is persistently protruding. Rectal prolapse most commonly affects puppies under 6 months of age who have frequent bouts of severe diarrhea or strain to defecate.

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 vet visit.

Importance of Seeking Treatment

Rectal prolapse is one of those medical issues you do not want to delay treatment or waste time trying home remedies. Failure to seek treatment in a timely matter causes the protruding tissue to dry, become traumatized and eventually die, turning blue or black in appearance as seen in chronic cases. Most importantly, left untreated, a puppy with a rectal prolapse will be unable to defecate, which leads to severe illness and eventually death. Timing is of the essence with this condition.

First Aid Treatment

While you prepare for the upcoming vet 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. Afterward, wear disposable gloves and liberally lubricate the area with KY jelly, suggests Amy Shojai, author, veterinary technician and certified animal behavior consultant. Finally, 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 vet.

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

Treating the Underlying Condition

Once at the vet, 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 a viral infection, a bout of antibiotics may be needed; if it's triggered by a parasitic infestation, an antiparasitic 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.

Treating the Prolapsed Rectum

If the rectal tissue is still alive, the vet may manage to push the prolapsed rectum back into place and temporarily suture the area to prevent another prolapse. If the tissue on the other hand is dry, severely traumatized or dead, the vet may need to perform surgery to amputate the damaged portion. 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.