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Paraphimosis in Dogs

What Is Paraphimosis in Dogs?

Paraphimosis arises when a dog struggles to retract its penis into the protective sheath of skin, known as the prepuce.

The diagnosis of paraphimosis occurs when the penis remains outside of the prepuce for more than two hours, distinguishing it from priapism, where the penis stays erect for an extended period.

Once the penis becomes stuck, swelling of the tissues exacerbates the difficulty of retraction.

The exposed, delicate mucosal tissue on the penis’s surface rapidly dries out and becomes painful. Dogs often exacerbate the issue by excessively licking the irritated tissue, leading to further damage.

Dogs afflicted with paraphimosis are unable to engage in mating, as it can cause significant harm to the affected tissues.

If your dog experiences paraphimosis, attempting to cleanse the area with mild soap and warm water is advisable. Additionally, applying a sterile lubricant may aid in easing the penis back into the sheath.

However, it is crucial to have your dog examined by a veterinarian promptly, even if successful in retraction. This is to ensure there is no internal damage and to prevent recurrence.

Paraphimosis is an intensely painful condition and constitutes a medical emergency. Immediate treatment by a veterinarian or at an emergency veterinary facility is imperative, as delaying treatment can lead to severe consequences.

Symptoms and Types

Signs indicating paraphimosis in dogs include:

  • Excessive licking of the exposed penis (often the primary sign)
  • Noticeable swelling and redness of the penis
  • Unusual penile discharge
  • Dribbling urine
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Edema or fluid buildup in the tissues surrounding the penis
  • Posthitis, characterized by swelling of the foreskin

If your dog’s penis is trapped outside the sheath and you cannot retract it, immediate evaluation by a veterinarian is crucial.


Paraphimosis is not frequently observed in dogs that naturally engage in mating behavior. Typically, this condition arises after a dog experiences an erection following manual semen collection for breeding purposes.

Often, a ring of matted hair forms around the base of the dog’s penis, constricting blood flow. This ring acts like a tourniquet, resulting in swelling of the penis and surrounding tissues.

Other factors contributing to paraphimosis include:

  • Rolling inward of the edges of the penile sheath
  • Presence of foreign objects or materials lodged in the sheath
  • Infections
  • Trauma, such as fractures of the os penis (the penis bone)
  • Neurological disorders
  • Muscle weakness
  • Priapism
  • Cancer

While paraphimosis can affect any male dog, it is more frequently seen in intact males as it is often linked to ejaculation.

Genetics may also play a role, with Bouvier des Flandres, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers being the most commonly affected breeds.

Some dogs may be born with a narrow opening in the sheath, while others may develop paraphimosis due to injury or disease.


Paraphimosis is typically diagnosed through a physical examination and by gathering the dog’s medical history. In most cases, veterinarians can identify the issue through visual inspection without the need for diagnostic testing.

However, if there are abnormalities present, such as the presence of a growth or suspected infection, a urinalysis and biopsy of the affected penile tissues may be necessary.

In instances where a fracture of the os penis is suspected, an X-ray may be recommended for further evaluation.


Effective treatment for paraphimosis is readily available from your veterinarian, particularly if the condition is addressed early, before significant swelling and discomfort ensue.

In cases where paraphimosis has recently occurred and there is minimal swelling, you can attempt to reposition the penis into its sheath by gently applying dog-safe lubrication and pressure. However, most instances require professional intervention.

Your veterinarian may insert an intravenous (IV) catheter into your dog’s lower front leg to administer pain relief or sedation prior to addressing the paraphimosis.

The procedure involves gentle cleansing of your dog’s penis and prepuce, followed by trimming of the surrounding fur. A lubricant is then applied to the exposed penis, and attempts are made to return it to the sheath.

If retraction is difficult, methods such as a sugar solution, cold compress, or pressure with a gloved hand may be employed to reduce swelling before another attempt is made.

In cases where the penis cannot remain within the sheath after retraction, a specialized suture technique known as a purse string may be utilized to secure it in place.

Severe instances may necessitate general anesthesia and surgical intervention to correct the issue and ensure the integrity of your dog’s urethra. If the urethra is affected, a urinary catheter may be inserted to aid in healing.

For cases of paraphimosis resulting from anatomical abnormalities, such as a narrow preputial opening, reconstructive surgery can be performed to enlarge the opening and prevent recurrence of paraphimosis.

Recovery and Management

Following correction of paraphimosis, it’s essential for your dog to wear a comfortable collar until full healing occurs to deter licking of the area.

Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to address any existing infection or prevent its onset. Additionally, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving medications may be recommended.

In cases where surgery was undertaken, your pup will require suture removal approximately 10 to 14 days post-procedure.


To prevent paraphimosis in your dog, consider the following measures:

  1. Keep the hair around their prepuce trimmed short and clear of debris.
  2. Prior to breeding, ensure your dog’s genitalia are clean and adequately lubricated.
  3. After breeding or semen collection, clean your dog’s penis and prepuce thoroughly.
  4. Regularly inspect your dog’s penis and prepuce for any abnormalities as part of your bathing and grooming routine.

Paraphimosis in dogs is easily treatable if detected early. Although this condition can affect any male dog, breeding dogs are particularly susceptible and should be closely monitored during breeding activities.

It’s important to note that even if you successfully retract your dog’s penis into the sheath, it’s advisable to seek veterinary care to ensure a complete recovery.

Paraphimosis in Dogs: FAQs

Can dogs live with paraphimosis?

Dogs cannot survive with untreated paraphimosis, as it leads to considerable pain and eventual death of the penile tissue. Additionally, untreated paraphimosis can result in infection, which may spread throughout the body, causing serious illness and potentially life-threatening sepsis.

Can paraphimosis in dogs go away on its own?

Paraphimosis typically does not resolve without veterinary intervention. If your dog’s penis remains protruded from its sheath for more than two hours, immediate medical attention is necessary.

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