How Ectopic Ureters Affect Dogs
It is hard to say how a dog that has an ectopic ureter is affected by its condition. It is possible that it will not be aware of having any abnormality at all. However, if urine scalding and urinary tract infections occur as a sequellae to this conformational defect, the dog probably will experience a significant amount of discomfort unless the condition is corrected surgically.
Symptoms of Ectopic Ureters
Dogs with ectopic ureters have symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Males are often asymptomatic, which means that they do not display any outward signs of having the condition. Dogs with only one affected ureter may continue to pass urine normally. The process of urinating is called “micturition.” When clinical signs of ectopic ureters are present, owners might notice one or more of the following:
- Urinary incontinience (intermittent or continuous; usually suggests bilateral condition)
- Inappropriate elimination (urinating in unusual areas)
- Persistent urine dribbling (especially in juvenile animals)
- Dampness around the external genitalia
- Cloudy urine (pyuria; from pus in the urine)
- Foul-smelling urine (from infection somewhere along the urinary tract)
- Redness, inflammation and irritation of the hair and skin around a female dog’s vulva and vagina (vulvitis and vaginitis due to urine scalding)
Dogs at Increased Risk
According to many authorities, certain dog breeds have an increased risk of being born with unilateral or bilateral ectopic ureters. These include the Golden Retriever, Bulldog, Skye Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Siberian Husky, West Highland White Terrier, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, Fox Terrier and Newfoundland. Of course, not every member of a predisposed breed is born with this condition. Female dogs are definitely predisposed. Ectopic ureters are rarely seen in males and, when they are present, may only be diagnosed later in life. It is thought that this may be due to stronger urethral sphincter control in male dogs, which allows them to compensate for urine dribbling during their younger years. Still, most ectopic ureters usually are identified by the time a puppy reaches about 6 months of age.