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What is Rectal Prolapse?

Rectal prolapse in dogs can occur at any age and can be congenital or develop later in life.  Though this condition can occur in both males and females, the female is put more at risk during the birthing process.  Younger dogs are more often affected as there are several diseases that can cause straining in puppies which may cause the protrusion of the rectum through the anus.

Rectal prolapse is defined as the protrusion or pushing out of the inner layers of the rectum through the anus.  This often occurs after straining to defecate, urinate or give birth.

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Symptoms of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

Rectal prolapse symptoms are quite simple: 

  • Visual observation and noting of a mass protruding from the anus; this mass will appear similar to a “sausage or dough-nut” and it will be reddened
  • There may be pain in the area, similar to the discomfort experienced by humans with regard to hemorrhoids, though dogs don’t get hemorrhoids
  • You may notice your pet straining to produce a bowel movement, urinate or straining during a difficult birth. Any protruding tissue can then cause an urge to continue straining.

Types

There are two types of rectal prolapse per se but there are several other rectal disorders in which rectal prolapse is a sign.  The two true types of rectal prolapse are:

  • Incomplete, in which only the innermost rectal layer is actually protruding
  • Complete, in which all of the layers of the rectum are protruding.

There are several other disorders of the rectum in which rectal prolapse may occur; they are:

Anal Sac Disease

This disorder involves the anal sacs which are positioned on either side of the anus.  This is the most common disease found in the anal area of a dog.  They become clogged, infected, abscessed or even cancerous, making defecation difficult.  The other signs that you might see in this case would be related to pain or discomfort while sitting, scooting the buttocks on the ground, licking or biting at the anal area.

Perianal Fistula

The most prominent signs are chronic, foul-smelling wounds in the tissues that encompass the anus (the cause is unknown), most often found in German Shepherds and less frequently in Setters and Retrievers.

Perineal Hernia

This is a hernia that happens near the anus most often in males, 6 to 8 years old, who have not been neutered.  Typical breeds affected are Boston Terriers, Welsh Corgis, Boxers, Collies, Kelpies, Dachshunds, Old English Sheepdogs and Pekingese.

Rectal and Anorectal Narrowing

These are narrowing of the rectal area as a result of scar tissue from injury from foreign objects or trauma or they may be a complication of inflammation.  This type generally has both rectal and anal involvement.

Rectal tears, as well as anal tears, can occur when a dog swallows a foreign object that is sharp, like a bone, needle or other rough material. They can also result from a bite or injury.  The tear may involve only the surface layers of the rectum (called a partial tear) or may it may puncture through all the rectal layers (called a complete tear). Swelling or edema may also be seen if the condition is long standing. Tears can result in narrowing of the anorectal region as they heal and form scars.

Rectal Tumors

Rectal tumours can be benign or malignant. If the tumour is malignant and/or interfering with the dog's day to day life, surgical removal is the primary treatment option but may not always be effective if the tumor has spread beyond the rectum before the signs were noted. The signs of this disorder include the straining and painful defecation noted above as well as bright red blood in the feces and diarrhea.

In addition, rectal polyps are basically growths that appear in the rectal area.  This is not a frequent occurrence in dogs and they’re typically benign when they do appear.  The bad news is that, generally speaking, the larger the polyp in size, the increased chance it will  be a malignancy.


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Causes of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

The main cause of rectal prolapse in dogs, whether it’s a primary or a secondary condition, is straining to either defecate or urinate in both sexes and difficult birthing in females.  There are some conditions and diseases which can contribute to the prolapse of the rectum, regardless of age or sex including:

  • Straining to defecate or urinate at any age
  • Difficulty in giving birth
  • Severe diarrhea (often associated with chronic parasitic infections) especially in puppies but can occur at any age
  • Constipation
  • Straining to urinate because of urinary infection or other urinary disease
  • Obesity in dogs cause poor muscle tone and contributes to the failure of the anal sac to be fully emptied during defecation
  • When the contents of the gland are not adequately emptied regularly, the gland becomes a target of bacterial infection and inflammation
  • Prostate disease
  • Pelvic muscle weakness
  • Swallowing of foreign objects, especially sharp or rough things, causing grazes and lacerations
  • Cancer
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Diagnosis of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

The primary diagnostic tool for rectal prolapse in dogs is the physical examination.  This examination will provide a great deal of information to your veterinarian as to which organs and tissues are actually involved. This examination may involve the use of a probe inserted next to the prolapsed tissue to determine its identity.  It is important for the veterinarian to know if the prolapsed tissue is intestinal or rectal so that appropriate treatment options can be explored.  If the protruding tissue is intestinal, prompt surgery will be required to put it back where it belongs.

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Treatment of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

Treatment of rectal prolapse in dogs will depend upon the tissue involved and the reason it is prolapsed.  If anal sac disease is also present, the anal sacs will need to be expressed to empty them.  This may require manual expression by the veterinary caregiver using his finger.  

When possible, the tissue will be gently cleaned and repositioned. A suture may be temporarily placed to hold things in position. In more extreme cases, surgery may be required. A decision for surgical intervention must be carefully considered based on the cause and degree of prolapse.  There are possible complications with any anaesthetic and surgery and your veterinarian will need to consider if the prolapsed condition warrants the risks of the possible complications that are associated with this surgical repair.  

Regardless of the treatment option recommended, the prolapsed tissue will need to be returned to its normal position and location by some means.  In the event that the prolapse is caused by a tumor, that, of course, will need to be surgically removed to prevent possible cancerous metastasis.

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Recovery of Rectal Prolapse in Dogs

The prognosis for most disorders of the rectum is good but may require closer observation and dietary changes over the rest of the pet’s life.  You will need to monitor your pet frequently and in your regular observation of your dog, watch for prolapses, straining to defecate or urinate, diarrhea episodes, pain with defecation, urination, sitting, and walking. Note any changes in urinary or bowel habits as obstructions in either of these systems can quickly become an emergent situation. Your veterinarian will likely want to follow up after treatment periodically to ensure the prolapse doesn’t return or, in the event it does return, that it can be treated expeditiously to avoid permanent damage to your pet.

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Written by a Pugs lover Grace Park

Veterinary reviewed by: Linda S.

Published: 12/09/2016, edited: 03/22/2021

Rectal Prolapse Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Rott

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10 months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Anal Prolapse

I have a picture of what I think might be an anal prolapse in my dog. But I am not sure because she is also in heat.

Feb. 4, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hi, That might a uterine/vaginal prolapse. It is common during heat. Estrogen hormones cause relaxation of the pelvic muscles causing the uterus or vagina to prolapse. It might be recurrent and we usually advise pet parents to have their female dogs spayed once it occurs. A prolapsed uterus is predisposed to infection.

Feb. 4, 2021

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black lab mix

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nine months

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

She just had her first period and the bleeding is all but done. However, I noticed a week or so ago that she has something protruding from her anus. Additionally, I just realized today that she has a spot that is missing fur where there are black lines across her skin. I do not know if these two things are related.

Jan. 22, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello this looks like a polyp coming from her anus. This may be benign but could counties to grow. The spot on the skin looks unrelated. You can try Benadryl for the hair loss Incase it is allergies the dosage is 1mg/pound twice a day. Also a bath in medicated shampoo with help.

Jan. 22, 2021

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black lab mix with hound dig

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Five Years

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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There's a little bit of red tissue showing from her rectum. She has been scooting her rear end on the floor for about a month so I got her some deworming medication at tractor supply a week ago but she's still scooting, HELP,

Jan. 15, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello this could be from parasite but also her anal glands . If this continues to come out and she continues to have issues, it would be best for her to see a vet. They can help put this back in and treat her for the cause.

Jan. 15, 2021

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Redbone Coonhound

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Seven Years

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3 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Weight Loss

My dog started losing weight recently. He has vomitied a few times. The last few days he refuses to eat and last night he developed a bulge from his anus about the size of an apple.

Dec. 27, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Hello I'm sorry to see that your pet is not feeling well. He needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He could have a rectal prolapse which is very dangerous and could require some type of procedure to correct it. There is not really anything you can do from home. He needs an exam immediately. Good luck.

Dec. 27, 2020

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German Shepherd

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One Month

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7 found helpful

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Tarry Stool

I think the dog has rectal prolaspe. There is a pink thing in its anus and it sometimes causes pain while pooping. Does it go away by itself?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is not something that will go away on its own, no. Puppies with parasites are prone to rectal prolapses, and without treating the parasites, the problem will not get better. It would be best to have the puppy seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, have they can look under the microscope for parasite eggs and see what might be affecting the puppy's stool. I hope that everything goes well for the puppy.

Sept. 29, 2020

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Ophelia

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Pit bull

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Rectal Prolapse With Soft Stool

We rescued a 1 year old female pitbull named Ophelia 2 months ago. She was severely emaciated at 27 lbs and is now a healthier 37 lbs. Her coat has improved as well as her energy. She could only make it around the block without fatiguing but now can easily go 3 miles. We have been doing chiropractic care to adjust her hips and back as she was out of whack and very weak in the back legs and tail when we got her. Ophelia's problem is she has had a rectal prolapse since she came into the pound as a stray. We had it surgically fixed when they spayed her but two weeks later, she was prolapsing again. She also has not had a firm stool since she was rescued. We have tried a low residue diet, dewormed with 3 fecals that have been negative, and she is negative for EPI and histoplasmosis. We now are trying a limited ingredient, fish based raw diet with limited success. She is on a probiotic. She has been on prednisone to reduce inflammation with no luck. Her stools are slightly firmer but she still has a large volume of stool daily (about 10-12 stools a day) We are able to lubricate and push the prolapse back in but it is coming out about 2 inches. Our vet is at a loss as to why she still is having soft/loose stools which is probably causing the prolapse. Any ideas??? HELP!!!

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Persie

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cockapoo

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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Prolapse

Hi my 8 my 8year old cockapoo had a perineal hernia to which surgery was performed - this was 6 months ago now. Recently after he has been going to the toilet there has been a small red lump sticking out of the anus. Usually takes up to an hour to return to normal, dog shows no sign of discomfort or pain. This is happening every couple of weeks. Any advice will be helpful. We are going to add lactose into diet with also fibre for stool softener. And monitor this carefully. Any advice will help

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Bella

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German Shepherd

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Anal Prolapse
Sore Red Mass

My dog is 6 yrs old and she experiencing anal prolaples and I really need help.She has been the vets about 4 times first time surgury, second time was to get it looked at. The third time I was concerened because i had taken her for a walk and it looked like it came out again she had her sutras in at that time. She has all her stitches out now. I took her to the vet just a few days ago because she was pooping in the backyard I stopped her because i felt she was pushing to hard and when i checked her bum, it looked like she had prolapsed again. Waited about 15mins for it to go back in, it had been over 2 hrs and it still did not go back in took her to the vets right away, they used sugar and water base lubricant to help it ease itself back in. I really need help because this is becoming a really big stressor for me. Is there any possible way were that this could be stopped hoping it wont happen again. Funds are getting very tight after multiple vet visits

Rectal Prolapse Average Cost

From 247 quotes ranging from $300 - $2,000

Average Cost

$850

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