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Understanding Balanoposthitis In Your Older Dog

Certain disorders are rather common occurrences in many older dogs and are potentially life threatening. In the female dog, conditions such as mammary gland tumors and pyometra, as well as the less serious false pregnancy and mis-mating, can be prevented to varying degrees by ovariohysterectomy. If your mature dog has already had such surgery you have removed the sources of several major threats to her continuing good health.

Although castration of the male will similarly prevent at least two reproductive disorders related to aging, side effects are more extensive and such surgery is rarely recommended for preventive reasons. The treatment of existing reproductive disease may, however, require such an operation.

Balanoposthitis: This inflammation of the penis and prepuce (sheath) is seen with variable frequency in dogs of all ages, even young puppies, but is more common in aging males. Small amounts of yellow or grayish discharge at the opening of the prepuce are apparent although the dog's licking at the area may clean most of it away.

In several cases, the amount of discharge is quite large and will be greenish and pus-like, often matting the surrounding abdominal hair in long-coated dogs.

The surface of the penis and the lining of the prepuce develop multiple little bumps, called lymphoid follicles, and bacteria actively begin to grow in the secretions. Should your dog have this problem, you will often find some of the discharge on the various surfaces that he lies on for any length of time.

You can usually clear up mild cases yourself by gently flushing out the sheath twice daily with hydrogen peroxide solution for a week or ten days. Using a rubber human ear syringe to hold the peroxide, insert its tip into the sheath opening, at the same time pulling the sheath gently toward the syringe. This will avoid the syringe tip touching the penis.

Holding the sheath opening firmly around the syringe tip, slowly instill the peroxide until the prepuce distends slightly. Remove the syringe, keeping the prepuce opening closed, and gently massage the fluid back and forth within the sheath. Release the opening, let the fluid drain out, and carefully clean the surrounding area.

More severe cases should be treated by your veterinarian and may require the application of irritating medications to these delicate tissues. This would, of course, be done under anesthesia and probably followed with soothing antibiotic ointments which you would continue at home as instructed.

Your older dog may be recurrently bothered by this condition. Regular flushing with peroxide or the application of an antibiotic ointment or both, done once or twice weekly should keep the discharge under control and avoid the more serious problems.

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