veterinarian examining a dog's urinary system.

When things go wrong, er, down there, it can be embarrassing. When you need to ask for help for your dog, though, there is no shame in asking your friends at The Whole Pet Vet Hospital & Wellness Center. When a dog’s penis becomes stuck out for a length of time (called paraphimosis), it can be an emergency. It’s important to know when to seek veterinary care. 

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Dog Penises

Anatomy is important when trying to understand paraphimosis.

In our canine companions, you don’t typically see the actual penis often. It is mostly tucked safely inside the external foreskin-like sheath called the prepuce. The actual penis, called the glans, can extrude when needed. This is the often termed “red rocket.”

When a male dog is ready to breed, the glans penis will emerge from the prepuce. It is kept in the extruded position while in use. When ejaculation occurs, two small glands at the base of the penis called the bulbous glandis swell in order to keep the male dog “tied” to the female for about 15 minutes. 

Based on basic anatomy and physiology, it is reasonable to think that the glans can remain extruded safely for about 20 minutes or so even in the absence of breeding, especially if the dog has ejaculated. 

When the penis remains extruded for longer, though, problems may occur. 

When Paraphimosis Occurs

When the glans does not return to its safe place in the sheath in a timely fashion, it is called paraphimosis. Paraphimosis in dogs is an uncomfortable condition that can lead to serious complications. 

A glans penis that remains extruded for an abnormal length of time the surface may become irritated and dry, causing swelling, infection, and even necrosis. If left long enough, the dog’s ability to urinate may even be affected. 

Paraphimosis is a pet emergency. When a dog is affected by this condition, we first work to address the underlying cause if possible. These may include things like:

  • A traumatic injury
  • A congenital abnormality or deformity
  • A neurological issue
  • Something physically preventing retraction such as hair at the base of the penis
  • A tumor

Regardless of the underlying cause, getting the glans penis back into the sheath is important. Anti-inflammatories and lubrication typically aid our doctors in reducing the paraphimosis. Sometimes surgery is required to replace and keep the glans inside the prepuce.

If you think that your pet might be experiencing paraphimosis, don’t be shy about calling us right away. While penis problems can cause a little blushing, it doesn’t make them any less important.