Prepare for unexpected vet bills
The ureters naturally drain liquid waste from the kidneys to the bladder. Some dogs are born with a genetic deformity that leaves their ureters draining to an improper place. It affects young, female dogs most commonly. Large breeds are more susceptible to this issue than small breeds. It is often noticed from birth or from when the dog is weaned and manifests as a constant drip of urine. Some dogs only experience incontinence when in certain positions.
Many owners seek treatment for this issue as the dog generally begins to smell of urine and is unable to stop urinating in the home. To repair this problem, surgery is often the only option. There are various invasive or non-invasive procedures that address ectopic ureters. As this is a rare condition, using an ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon that specializes in urinary tract surgery is advised.
Ultrasounds, x-rays or, more often, CT scans are used to confirm the presence of ectopic ureters. This will help differentiate the issue from incontinence caused by USMI (a disorder or the urethra). All treatments of this deformity involve the use of general anesthesia. Full blood work will need to be run prior to the surgery to ensure that the dog is healthy enough to receive anesthesia. Urinalysis is also done to assess if there is blood passing into the urine.
The dog will need to fast for several hours preceding the operation. A drug will be administered to sedate the animal, and an IV will be inserted. General anesthesia will then be applied to render the dog unconscious. If a laser ablation with cystoscopy is being performed, the ureters will be detached from the incorrect location and reattached to the bladder using a laser. This eliminates the need for an incision. If traditional surgery is being used, an incision will be made down the middle of the abdomen. The ureters will be sectioned from the urethra and sutured onto an incision to the bladder. Standard closure using sutures will end the procedure.
If the operation is performed correctly, an ectopic ureter repair can permanently correct incontinence in affected dogs. The ureters, once moved to their correct position, may operate properly for the remainder of the dog's life. During recovery, it is not uncommon for the dog to spot urine, however this can often be addressed using medication for a short period of time. The dog should be checked for USMI whenever ectopic ureters are present, as this disorder often occurs simultaneously and can also cause incontinence.
The dog should be monitored as it wakes from general anesthesia. The first urination will be watched to see if any straining or difficulty is present. Sometimes swelling may prevent normal urination, in which case a catheter will be placed until swelling goes down. A prescription for antibiotics may be given for the weeks that follow the surgery. To prevent the dog from licking at its incision, an Elizabethan collar can be used during the healing process. If any signs of infection develop, such as redness, swelling or pus, take the dog back to the surgeon immediately.
The cost of an ectopic ureter repair can vary greatly depending on who performs the operation and what procedure is chosen. For example, cystoscopy requires specialized equipment and training but may prevent the need for further surgeries or complications that lead to higher overall cost. CT scans tend to cost more than other forms of diagnostic imaging. Therapy medications are often prescribed after this procedure. The total cost of the repair may cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 with average treatments costing $5,000.
Whenever general anesthesia is used, certain serious risks exist. With surgeries involving the urinary tract, urinary tract infections may develop. Complications arise in approximately 14% of dogs who receive this treatment. If the dog suffered from dilated ureters, this problem may worsen after surgery. Dysuria can be present in some instances. A small number of dogs experience kidney failure following an ectopic ureter repair. Success rates for this surgery range from 58%-75%. Surgery using laser ablation is associated with far less complications than traditional, incision-based surgery.
As ectopic ureters are a hereditary condition, the only way to prevent their occurrence is to not breed dogs who suffer from this ailment. Inquire about the family health history when purchasing a puppy. Females suffer from this issue far more than males. All larger breeds can be affected by ectopic ureters, however Newfoundlands, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Poodles and Siberian Huskies are especially susceptible.
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2 found helpful
We had a GSD pup donated to us to be trained as my service dog... She is just 8 weeks 5 days currently. When we got her a couple days ago she was very thin, seemed dehydrated, was extremely skittish but over the last 2 days she has become spunky. We took her to the vet yesterday for diarrhea and was told she was just given shots too close together by the breeder. (11 days at 7 and 8 weeks) clearly not the best breeder. We were also given wormer for hook worms. Tonight we realized she has been peeing herself in her sleep. Something I should have realized 2 days ago when she peed in her sleep on the drive home from picking her up. She has peed in our bed every night since and today we realized why... We were watching tv with her sleeping next to us and suddenly the bed was soaked. She didn't even move and her legs were covered. She does squat to pee fine outside and has even learned to ring the bell on the door (sometimes) when she wants out. So she has bladder control when awake. What is the likelihood this is an ectopic ureter issue? We are unsure if we can affort a CT scan, are there cheaper diagnostic tests? We know we can't afford the surgery for it, unfortunately... And several issues with the breeder have led us to believe that she may have been mistreated while there so we don't want to just give her back of that is the case... We'd try and find a rescue that could afford her treatment and then adopt her out. She is so sweet and so smart but from the sounds of it treatment will run several thousands of dollars (in Central Texas) and it's not something we are prepared to afford... But we don't want to give up on her if it is something less expensive and more easily fixed. We have already spent a couple hundred on her vetting and worry we will spend a great deal more on the diagnosis just to have to turn around and give her to a rescue. I am an amputee and have several surgeries ahead of me so we are a one income house (military)... The potential of this being an ectopic ureter is breaking our heart's...
March 17, 2018
Ectopic ureters are normally diagnosed at around three to six months of age in female dogs, normally Labradors, Huskies, Poodles and Terriers are commonly affected; diagnostically I find that an intravenous pyelogram is the cheapest and effective method of diagnosing this condition since it requires an intravenous injection and some x-rays. If cost is a concern, you should reach out to a charity for financial assistance especially if you require a service animal. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.dogingtonpost.com/need-help-with-vet-bills-or-pet-food-there-are-resources-available/
March 17, 2018
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1 found helpful
Our bulldog had surgery for an intramural ectopic ureter back in November 2017. She is still having some dripping. We have her on Proin. She continues to have UTI’s. She turns 7 months tomorrow. She hasn’t been spayed. Please Help.
Feb. 8, 2018
Dr. Michele K. DVM
Thank you for your email. I'm sorry that Gabby is still having problems. It may be a good idea to have her spayed, to minimize any urogenital complications. If she is still dribbling even while on Proin, it would be best to follow up with her veterinarian to find out the best next course of action for her. If her surgery wasn't curative, there may be other complicating factors that exist, and without examining her, I can't comment on what might help. I hope that everything goes well for her.
Feb. 8, 2018
really?/ spay a bitch already incontinent? I find this advice contrary to every other vet i have spoken too
March 19, 2018
Thank you for responding. There are so many factors involved. We’ve been told not to spay her for a couple of years. It’s all so confusing. Gabby has not gone thru “ heat” yet either. Our vet keeps saying it’ll take time. ☹️ We put diapers on her so she can at least have a life outside her playpen.
Feb. 8, 2018
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