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Preputial Discharge (Licking Penis) in Dogs

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Preputial discharge is any substance flowing from the prepuce, which is the fold of skin that covers the penis. Often, licking at the prepuce/penis accompanies the discharge, so we may use the terms interchangeably.

General Causes

Preputial discharge may consist of blood, urine or pus. The normal dog should have no discharge, although a small amount of whitish-yellow "smegma" can accumulate around the preputial opening, and is not considered clinically significant.

There are many potential causes. These include:

  • Disorders affecting the prepuce, including neoplasia (cancer), trauma, foreign body or inflammation of the penis/prepuce (balanoposthitis).

  • Disorders of the urethra, including neoplasia, trauma or stones (calculi).

  • Disorders of the urinary bladder including infection, calculi, inflammation or neoplasia.

  • Disorders of the prostate, including infection or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis), neoplasia, enlargement (hyperplasia), cyst or abscess.

  • Bleeding disorders (coagulopathies) including decreased platelet count (thrombocytopenia) or ingestion of rat poison

  • Urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine) secondary to an ectopic (abnormally placed) ureter or improperly functioning sphincter (tissue that acts like a door, controlling the release of urine).

    The presence of preputial discharge most often suggests an underlying problem, ranging from a mild, relatively benign disorder, to a severe, even life threatening disease (such as a coagulopathy)

    What to Watch For

  • Spotting
  • Swelling or inflammation associated with the prepuce/penis
  • Excessive licking
  • Any discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite

    Veterinary Care

    Diagnostic Tests

    Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination including a thorough exam of the penis and prepuce. The following tests may also be recommended:

  • Baseline tests to include a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile and urinalysis. Although results may be within normal limits, they may reveal overt infection and inflammation.

  • A bacterial urine culture to rule out a urinary tract infection

  • A bacterial culture and cytology of the preputial discharge

  • A coagulation (clotting) profile to document a coagulopathy in cases of hemorrhagic discharge.

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) to evaluate the urogenital tract, including the prostate

  • Abdominal ultrasound to assess the prostate and urinary structures

    Treatment

    Although specific therapy may be indicated once a definitive diagnosis is established, there are several things that can be done to treat the symptoms while awaiting test results.

  • Remove or treat any obvious inciting or underlying cause, such as foreign body, tumor or infection

  • Flush the prepuce daily with antiseptic solution.

    Home Care

  • Administer all prescribed medication as directed by your veterinarian.

  • Observe your pet closely. If the clinical signs are not improving or are getting worse, contact your veterinarian at once.

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