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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Anorectal Prolapse View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Anorectal prolapse is the protrusion of rectal tissue through the anus. It's common for young cats and dogs (especially puppies) to have rectal prolapse from straining with diarrhea. The inside of the tract turns inside out, like a sock rolled down over your foot.


A mucosal prolapse is confined to the lining of the anal canal. It appears as a red, swollen, doughnut-shaped ring of tissue. This might be mistaken for prolapsed hemorrhoids, but dogs do not get hemorrhoids. In a complete rectal prolapse, a segment of rectum several inches long protrudes through the anus, appearing as a pink or red cylindrical mass.


It occurs after forceful and prolonged straining. Conditions associated with forceful straining include severe constipation, fecal impaction, diarrhea, an anorectal obstruction, labor and delivery, an obstructed bladder, and heavy parasite loads especially in puppies.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


The tissue is extremely tender and easily damaged, and prolapse always needs medical attention. A mucosal prolapse disappears spontaneously when the underlying cause of straining is corrected. The dog should be placed on a stool softener such as Colace and fed a highly digestible, low residue diet until symptoms resolve.

A rectal prolapse requires veterinary management to reduce the prolapse. A temporary purse-string suture may be made around the anal opening to prevent immediate recurrence. If the prolapsed bowel is necrotic (the tissue is dead), it will have to be surgically removed. Bowel continuity is restored with end to end suturing.

  1. Clean the area thoroughly - Use a gently touch, this area is very tender. A saline wash is perfect. Plain water would be absorbed into the tissue and make the swelling worse, but saline more closely matches the body's natural composition. Sterile saline contact lens solution in a squirt bottle works well. If you don't have that, make saline solution by dissolving 1 1/4 teaspoons of table salt in a pint of lukewarm water and put the solution in a clean squirt bottle.
  2. Keep the tissue moist - In most cases, the tissue won't return to normal with first aid. But you can keep the tissue from being further damaged by keeping it moist. Squirt the saline solution over the area. Then, wearing disposable medical gloves, apply liberal amounts of lubricant like K-Y Jelly to the exposed tissue and wrap the area in a small, saline moistened towel until you can get to the veterinarians office.
  3. Use a collar restraint - One of the biggest dangers of rectal prolapse is damage to the tissue. When the rectum is outside the body, the pressure can cut off the blood supply and pinch nerves. The odd, numb feeling almost always prompts your pet to start licking or chewing at the area, which can result in self mutilation that will take surgery to correct. Protect the tissue by fitting your pet with a cone collar restraint to keep her from reaching the area. You will need to watch your pet closely until you get her to the vet to prevent her from causing further damage.


Post-operative care includes stool softeners, a low residue diet, and possible medications to adjust intestinal motility.


Very often, a dog or cat needs worm medicine to get rid of the straining and prolapse. Look for signs of worms and take a stool sample to your vet. The type of medicine that your vet recommends will depend on the kind of worms that are diagnosed.

Most pets will not have relapses as long as the cause of the straining has been corrected. In some older pets, the muscles may be flabby, so a purse-string suture may be temporarily placed around the anus to tighten the opening while the injury heals. You will need to watch your pet to be sure that she doesn't lick or bite at the area until it is completely healed. A collar restraint may be necessary.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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