column By: Walt Cottrell, DVM | August, 17
Dear Dr. Walt:
When we were on a hunting trip, we noticed a discharge from the prepuce of our 9-year-old male. It seemed to clear up on its own after we got home. To be on the safe side since we wanted to breed him, we put him on a 10-day round of antibiotics we happened to have. Soon after, he tried to breed one of our females that had been standing for about two days. He acted sort of disinterested, but it’s hard to tell if was him or her not really being ready. The next day we tried again, and it became clear that he was having pain. I didn’t feel or see anything out of whack, but he cried, and the pain seemed related to the sheath. Does he need another antibiotic and probably an exam? Would it be a good idea to put the female and the male that did breed her on an antibiotic as well, just in case they got some exposure?
Good for you for noticing the pain; some males are stoic, and it can be hard to see. Starting at the end of the male reproductive tract that is outside, let’s ask what could be happening that could produce these clinical signs. The sheath is a closed pouch lined with a mucous membrane that is exposed to all kinds of bacteria, and the pus you mention, absent some sort of injury, is normal and may vary in color and character. Could it be a stone at that end of the urethra or a severe urinary tract infection? Possibly yes, but signs of difficult urination would surely be present. Moving back, you mention that the penis, scrotum and testes seemed normal, and he did not object to your exam. Following the tract over the pelvis, we come to the prostate gland, which surrounds the urethra and lies under the lumbar vertebrae. This is where I believe your veterinarian will find the problem. As in man, this gland, which secretes a component of seminal fluid, can be affected by a variety of disease processes. The most likely one is a bacterial infection, but the possibilities include general inflammation and swelling (analogous to benign prostatic hypertrophy in men) and neoplasia (cancer), which is usually malignant. The general and digital examinations of the prostate will help decide between these, but imaging and a urinalysis with culture may be recommended and would be indicated if the prostate is swollen asymmetrically. If not, and there is no sign of other abdominal disease, everything points to a bacterial infection, and antibiotics are indicated to treat one or a combination of bacteria that can ascend in the urethra. Once the prostate is inflamed, just about any drug used to treat the urinary tract will do, but it is important to cover the possibilities of both major classes of bacteria, and three weeks is a minimum duration of therapy. Regarding treating the other dogs, I should mention that though increasingly rare, infections with Brucella canis, a bacteria, can cause signs like you’ve seen and can also infect people. After the antibiotics, I would have some blood drawn to check this out.
Dear Dr. Walt:
I’m worried about my pointer’s hearing. Now this dog knows Come and is usually pretty darn reliable about it. Lately he will come out of a cover and look right at me. I’ll call him and he will, often as not, go the other way! What’s up with that?
Years ago I had a dog that was also very reliable with coming in. While we were hunting one hot South Dakota fall, she didn’t follow any command – just kept streaking pell-mell across the prairie. I was both devastated and, I admit it, mad. Depending on whom you believe, I may have even cursed loudly at one point. That was before it became so well-known that even minor dehydration of the scenting (vomeronasal) organs and the brain can make dogs not only fail to respond to commands but also run over or past birds they would normally point, resulting in consternation and uncharacteristic behavior in their owners. So be sure he is well hydrated (a good drink every hour at a minimum). Then remember he was born knowing more about this business than we ever will. Try to see where he’s going because there well may be birds there, and besides, the dog always gets the benefit of the doubt. And while you get this sorted out, because I know it was so for me, there might be a place for a drink for you, too.