The Perineum in Dogs

by Karen Schweitzer
    Boxers, collies and dachshunds are at greater risk of perineal hernias than most breeds.

    Boxers, collies and dachshunds are at greater risk of perineal hernias than most breeds.

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    You have a perineum, and so does your dog. Where exactly is it, you ask? In the canine, the perineum, or perianal area as it is also known, is the often overlooked spot under the dog's tail. More specifically, it is the area between the anus and the vulva or scrotum. All sorts of problems can lurk in this area, and each requires the attention of a veterinarian.

    Perianal fistula is a painful, progressive disorder that affects the anus, rectum and perineum regions. These areas become inflamed and irritated. Although the exact causes are unknown, perianal fistula can occur in all breeds and among both genders. It is commonly seen in older dogs, particularly in males who have not bee neutered. Puppies and young adult dogs can be affected as well. Symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, diarrhea, constipation, painful defecation and incontinence. You might also see your puppy obsessively bite or lick the anal area. A veterinarian can diagnose perianal fistula and recommend appropriate treatment options.

    A perineal hernia occurs near the anus in the perineum area. Causes vary and can include everything from breed predisposition, hormonal imbalance, chronic constipation and pelvic muscle weakness to colorectal disease, prostate disease and cancer. Perineal hernias are more common in older dogs, but can occur at any age and in any breed. If your puppy has this problem, you may see swelling of the perineal area or a protrusion from the pelvis. Other symptoms include constipation, straining and painful defecation. If a perineal hernia is suspected, your puppy should be examined by a veterinarian, who can help you determine the best course of treatment.

    Rectal prolapse is another disorder of the perianal area. It occurs when one or all layers of the rectum protrude through the anus. This serious condition is common in young dogs who have severe diarrhea or routinely strain themselves while defecating. It can also affect puppies and older dogs with a perineal hernia or intestinal, anorectal or urinary diseases. If you see a cylinder-shaped mass protruding through your puppy's anal opening, a veterinarian should examine your pooch promptly to determine and eliminate the cause of the prolapse.

    Rectal and anorectal narrowing, also known as strictures, involve both the rectum and the anus. Strictures are caused by scar tissue. The tissue might be a result of inflammation, bite wounds, aggressive cancer, foreign object invasion or other accidents. Rectal and anorectal narrowing constricts the rectal or anal opening, blocking or hindering stools. This is not a common problem and can occur at any age. Symptoms include constipation and diarrhea. You might also see blood and mucus in your puppy's stools. This issue should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

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    About the Author

    Karen Schweitzer is a writer and author with 10-plus years of experience. She has written 11 non-fiction books and currently works as a senior editor for Education-Portal.com. In her spare time, she blogs and assists clients with article writing, editing, proofreading and other projects.

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