top of page
  • Writer's pictureVetMed Team

Ectopic Ureters in Dogs: From Diagnosis to Recovery

Ectopic ureters are a congenital anomaly that can affect dogs, leading to urinary incontinence and infections. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the world of ectopic ureters in dogs, exploring the different types, causes, symptoms, and diagnostic procedures associated with this condition.

We will discuss treatment options and provide insights into post-treatment care. This article aims to equip dog owners and veterinarians with the knowledge needed to recognize, diagnose, and effectively manage ectopic ureters, ensuring the best possible outcomes for our canine companions.

dog with ectopic ureter

Looking for a specific answer? Use our guide below to quickly navigate to your desired section:

What treatment options are there for ectopic ureters in dogs?

Aftercare for dogs after laser ablation procedure

What Are Ectopic Ureters?

Ectopic ureters in dogs refer to a congenital abnormality where the ureters, the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, do not connect to the bladder in the usual location. Instead, they empty urine into other parts of the urinary system or even outside the body. This condition can lead to urinary incontinence, recurrent urinary tract infections, and other complications in affected dogs.

What Causes Ectopic Ureters?

The exact cause of ectopic ureters in dogs is not fully understood. However, it is believed to be a genetic condition inherited from the parents. Breeds such as Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Welsh Corgis are more commonly affected by this condition. Female dogs are also more prone to ectopic ureters than males.

Types of Ectopic Ureters

There are two main types of ectopic ureters seen in dogs: intramural and extramural ectopic ureters.

Intramural Ectopic Ureter

In this type, the affected ureter enters the bladder through the normal location but then tunnels under the bladder wall opening within the urethra. This leads to urinary incontinence or urine dribbling.

Extramural Ectopic Ureter

With extramural ectopic ureters, the ureter bypasses the bladder altogether and connects to another part of the urinary tract, such as the urethra or the vagina. This results in the inappropriate flow of urine, leading to similar symptoms as intramural ectopic ureters.

What Are the Symptoms of Ectopic Ureters in Dogs?

Dogs with ectopic ureters may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Urinary Incontinence: Involuntary leakage of urine, often noticed as dribbling or wet spots where the dog has been lying down.

  • Frequent Urination: Dogs may need to urinate more frequently due to the abnormal connection of the ureters.

  • Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections: The abnormal urine flow can predispose dogs to urinary tract infections, resulting in symptoms such as increased thirst, frequent urination, and discomfort during urination.

  • Wet perineal area: The fur around the vulva may be constantly wet, leading to smelly skin infections.

Can You Prevent Ectopic Ureters?

Since ectopic ureters are believed to be a genetic condition and present at birth, it is not possible to prevent them. However, responsible breeding practices can help reduce the incidence of this condition. It is recommended to avoid breeding dogs with known ectopic ureters to prevent passing the genetic condition to future generations.

How Ectopic Ureters Are Diagnosed in Dogs

To diagnose ectopic ureters in dogs, veterinarians may use various diagnostic techniques, including:

  • Physical Examination: A thorough examination of the dog's abdomen and genital region may help identify any abnormalities.

  • Urinalysis: Analyzing a urine sample can provide valuable information about the dog's urinary health and help detect any signs of urinary tract infection.

  • Diagnostic Imaging: Ultrasound may sometimes identify the presence of ectopic ureters. Ultrasound is also used to evaluate the entire urinary tract for other concurrent birth defects.

  • Cystoscopy: This procedure involves using a small diameter video endoscope to examine the inside of the bladder and identify the location of the ureters. Cystoscopy is considered the "gold standard" for identifying ectopic ureters.

What Treatment Options Are There For Ectopic Ureters in Dogs?

We pride ourselves in specializing in minimally invasive techniques to improve success rates and result in quicker recovery periods for your pet. When it comes to ectopic ureters, we use a method called Laser Ablation.

Laser Ablation

Laser ablation has emerged as a non-invasive alternative treatment option for correcting ectopic ureters in dogs rather than open surgery. This non-invasive procedure offers several advantages and can be particularly beneficial for certain cases.

Laser ablation involves the use of laser energy to precisely ablate the tissue between the urethra and ectopic ureter which then moves the opening of the ureter back into the bladder. This technique is performed under general anesthesia using a cystoscope, a small diameter tube with a camera that allows us to visualize the urinary tract during the procedure.

One of the significant advantages of laser ablation is its non-invasive nature. Compared to traditional surgical procedures, laser ablation requires smaller incisions or no incisions at all, resulting in reduced tissue trauma, less postoperative pain, and faster recovery times for the dog.

Watch this procedure being done on one of our cute clients!

Aftercare for Dogs After Ectopic Ureter Laser Ablation Procedure

After a dog undergoes a laser ablation procedure for the treatment of ectopic ureters, proper aftercare is crucial to ensure a smooth recovery and optimal healing. Here are some important considerations for aftercare following a laser ablation procedure:

Postoperative Monitoring

Keep a close eye on your dog's behavior and overall well-being during the recovery period. Monitor for resolution of your dog's urinary incontinence. Only 50% of dogs with ectopic ureters become continent after correction. There are other factors that lead to ongoing incontinence that can then be addressed.

Pain Management

We may prescribe pain medications to help keep your dog comfortable during the recovery process. Administer the medication as instructed, and closely follow the recommended dosage and frequency. Be mindful of any potential side effects and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns.

Restricted Activity

It is important to limit your dog's physical activity and exercise during the recovery period. Avoid activities that may strain or put stress on the urinary tract. Leash walks and controlled movements are typically recommended initially, gradually increasing activity levels as directed by your veterinarian.

Incision Care (male only)

If there are any tiny incisions required for the laser ablation procedure, follow your veterinarian's instructions for wound care. Keep the area clean and dry. Avoid allowing your dog to lick or scratch at the incision site, as this can introduce bacteria and delay healing. If necessary, an Elizabethan collar (cone) may be recommended to prevent your dog from interfering with the incision.

Dietary Considerations

No special dietary recommendations are necessary after laser ablation of ectopic ureters.

Follow-up Appointments

Repeat ultrasound of the urinary tract is recommended 4-6 weeks after laser ablation of ectopic ureters. The purpose of the ultrasound is to verify urine is flowing into the bladder and that there are no obstructions at the newly created ureteral openings.

Medication Compliance

If your dog has been prescribed any additional medications, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, administer them as directed. Compliance with medication protocols is essential to prevent infections and manage inflammation.

Remember, every dog's recovery process may vary, and it is important to follow your veterinarian's specific aftercare instructions. By providing diligent aftercare, you can contribute to a successful recovery and help your dog return to their normal activities as soon as possible.

VetMed Treats Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

Once your dog has reached an appropriate body size, ectopic ureter laser ablation may be performed. Timely intervention results in improved treatment outcomes. If you notice any symptoms such as urinary incontinence, frequent urination, or recurrent urinary tract infections in your dog, schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible!


Questions You've Asked Us About Ectopic Ureters in Dogs

Still have questions? Contact us here - we promise we'll answer them.

Can dogs live with ectopic ureters?

Yes, dogs can live with ectopic ureters, but it can significantly impact their quality of life due to urinary issues such as incontinence and recurrent infections.

Are ectopic ureters painful in dogs?

What is the prognosis of an ectopic ureter in dogs?

What are the complications of ectopic ureters in dogs?

What are the risks of laser ablation in dogs?


bottom of page