Cryptorchidism (Undescended Testicle) in Dogs

Overview of Canine Cryptorchidism

Cryptorchidism is a condition present at birth in which one or both testicles fail to descend into the scrotum from where they develop in the abdomen which can occur in dogs. If the testicle has not descended into the scrotum by approximately two months of age, there usually is little chance that further descent will occur.

The undescended testicle is usually underdeveloped and non-functional, although it is a potential source of problems later in life (especially cancer) if not removed. The undescended testicle may remain within the abdomen or it may be located in the inguinal (groin) tissues.

Cryptorchidism is believed to be an inherited trait that could be passed on to the next generation if the animal is allowed to reproduce. Bilateral castration (removal of both testes) is recommended in all affected dogs.

Diagnosis of Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cryptorchidism is diagnosed by palpation of the scrotum and finding the absence of one or both testicles. The diagnosis is frequently made in the young healthy dog when he is presented to the veterinarian for routine castration. Often the owner is unaware that the problem exists.

Laboratory tests are generally not required to make the diagnosis; however, if your pet has bilateral cryptorchidism (both sides) it may be difficult to determine if he had previously been castrated unless you are certain of his entire medical history. Abdominal ultrasound examination or measurement of blood testosterone levels may help with the diagnosis in such cases.

Treatment of Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Castration is the recommended treatment of choice for pets with cryptorchidism. Depending on where the undescended testicle is located, the incision may be in the inguinal skin or into the abdomen. The normal (descended) testicle is removed in the regular manner.

Home Care and Prevention

After your dog returns home from the hospital keep him quiet and indoors while he heals (approximately two weeks). Do not allow excessive activity and prevent any “rough-housing.”

Monitor the incision daily for signs of redness, swelling or discharge. Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the incision. If you find it is impossible to stop him from doing this, you’ll need to obtain an “Elizabethan” collar that is placed around the neck to prevent access to the incision. Skin sutures, if present, will be removed in 10 to 14 days.

Cryptorchidism is an inherited disease and its occurrence cannot be prevented in the individual animal; however, castrating dogs diagnosed with this condition may help reduce the incidence in the general population as a whole.