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Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

Ectopic ureters in dogs cause urinary incontinence.

Ectopic ureters result in urinary incontinence in dogs. It's usually diagnosed in puppies because it's an inherited condition.

What Are Ectopic Ureters?

Ureters are tubes that connect the kidneys to the bladder. From there, the urethra is the tube through which urine exits the body.

In the case of ectopic ureters, the tubes from the kidneys don't empty into the bladder but instead connect to the urethra, vagina, or uterus (most dogs with ectopic ureters are females).

Because the ureters empty into a part of the body that isn't mean for holding urine, the result is incontinence or leaking of urine.

Signs of Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

The main thing people notice when their dog has ectopic ureters is urinary accidents in the house. Sometimes, the dog may urinate normally, but they also generally dribble or leak urine most of the time.

Dogs with ectopic ureters usually spend a lot of time licking their vulvas because of the constant presence of moisture there. They are also extremely prone to urinary tract infections, which makes the urine leakage worse.

Most of the time, signs are noticed in female dogs less than a year old because it is a congenital condition (puppies are born with it). It can take time to identify it as a problem rather than delayed or absent house-training skills, submissive urination, or a simple bladder infection without ectopic ureters. Indeed, all of those things are more common than ectopic ureters, so the condition shouldn't be suspected right away.

Diagnosis of Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

Ureters aren't visible on plain x-rays, so a different test is necessary to diagnose ectopic ureters. One of the following is usually diagnostic:

  • A contrast study called an intravenous pyelogram. A veterinarian (generally at a specialty clinic) injects dye into the dog's veins, and a series of x-rays show it going through the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. If the ureters don't connect to the bladder, the contrast material (dye) will show that.
  • A skilled veterinarian may be able to diagnose ectopic ureters with an abdominal ultrasound by watching for the squirt of urine into the bladder from the ureter.
  • A CT scan is one of the best ways to diagnose ectopic ureters and determine where they connect instead of to the bladder.
  • Cystoscopy is the use of a tiny camera inserted through the urethra or vagina to find the ectopic ureters.

Treatment of Canine Ectopic Ureters

Surgery is the treatment for ectopic ureters, and it's different in each case because it depends on where the existing ureter(s) is going. A skilled surgeon will find the existing ureters and redirect them to the proper spot inside the bladder. It can be an extensive, expensive, and complicated surgery in some cases.

After surgery, the dog may recover well, but sometimes, they remain incontinent. Your vet is best suited to give a prognosis for your dog's case, which will be unique, depending on the circumstances.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Urinary Tract Infection: UTI in Dogs

Submissive Urination in Dogs

CT Scans for Dogs: What Are They and What Information Do They Provide?

Ultrasound: What Is It and When Do Vets Use It?

X-Rays in Dogs: What Can They Tell Your Vet?

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