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What is Scrotal Urethrostomy?

The urethra is a tube that runs from the bladder to the outside of the body, carrying urine and waste products out of the dog's system. A urethrostomy is a procedure that shortens the urethra by providing an alternate opening farther up the duct, between the dog's legs. In male dogs, this procedure is known as a 'scrotal urethrostomy', as the opening is most often created at the location of the scrotum. The procedure can either be permanent in order to allow a dog to urinate easier, or it may be a temporary measure taken as the vet conducts an alternative treatment.

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Scrotal Urethrostomy Procedure in Dogs

Prior to starting, the surgeon will sedate the dog and shave a patch of skin on their hindquarters roughly on top of the scrotum before applying an antiseptic to prevent infection during the operation. Next, they will give the dog a general anesthetic to sedate them. An incision will then be made lengthways along the urethra. The edges of this incision will then be folded back on themselves and sutured shut, sealing the wound and creating a hole for the dog to urinate through. Although a catheter can be inserted through the opening, this is generally not done as the tube can irritate the bladder, resulting in further stones being produced.

Efficacy of Scrotal Urethrostomy in Dogs

The urethrostomy is very good at preventing stones from becoming lodged in the urethra. This is due to the fact that being close to the bladder, much pressure is exerted by the urine on the stone over a shorter tract of urethra, giving the object much less opportunity to become stuck. The procedure can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the vet's diagnosis and plans for further treatment (which may involve using drugs to resolve underlying conditions such as liver or kidney issues). An alternative to the urethrostomy is a lithotomy, which is the removal of stones from the bladder itself. This can either be done surgically by opening up the dog's abdomen, or by using sound waves to pulverize the stones as they sit inside the body, thereby allowing them to be passed via urination.

Scrotal Urethrostomy Recovery in Dogs

Following the procedure, the dog will need a few weeks to heal. The vet will typically advise owners to keep a close eye on the dog and restrict its daily exercise, lest the sutures tear out. Furthermore, the dog will need to be given painkillers for several weeks to alleviate any discomfort caused by the new opening and might also require antibiotics. The vet will no doubt want to arrange further appointments, so that they may evaluate the dog's progress and administer any additional treatment that may be required. In total, most dogs will only need two or three weeks before they are healed (although older animals may need longer, owing to their slower regenerative capabilities).

Cost of Scrotal Urethrostomy in Dogs

Whilst the urethrostomy is a relatively straightforward procedure, it does require a large degree of skill due to the ease with which damage can be done to the urinary tract during surgery. Because of this, owners can expect to pay in the region of $1,000, depending on the availability of qualified surgeons. By contrast, a surgical lithotomy to extract stones from the bladder costs approximately the same amount due to the complexity of the surgery. Treatment using sound waves can fetch a lower price, though this may be dependent on the availability of the correct equipment in a given area.

Dog Scrotal Urethrostomy Considerations

Some owners have voiced concerns regarding the potential risks posed by the procedure to the wellbeing of the dog. One of the most common worries is regarding the dog's ability to urinate properly from the new opening, with some people worrying that the animal will simply urinate on themselves. This is a relatively unfounded concern, as the dog will quickly learn to squat when urinating so as to avoid dirtying themselves. Some owners are also often worried that there is a risk of infection - whilst this can be true, the vet will often be able to prescribe drugs to alleviate the problem.

Scrotal Urethrostomy Prevention in Dogs

The procedure of scrotal urethrostomy is necessitated due to the presence of repeated bladder stones in the dog's urinary tract. The stones are caused by overly concentrated urine allowing minerals in the bladder to bind together over time. By providing the dog with proper hydration, owners can ensure that the animal's urine is sufficiently diluted, preventing the stones from forming and flushing the minerals from the bladder before they have a chance to stick together.