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Home > Ask A Vet > Paraphimosis in Dogs: Signs, Causes, & Treatment Options (Vet Answer)

Paraphimosis in Dogs: Signs, Causes, & Treatment Options (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Iulia Mihai

Veterinarian, DVM MSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Paraphimosis represents the protrusion of the penis and its inability to retract back into the foreskin (prepuce). In some cases, it can be a veterinary emergency. This condition is very painful and can cause permanent damage to your dog if not addressed promptly.

If your dog has a visible, (slightly) swollen, red or purple penis, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. It is recommended to contact the vet if more than 30 minutes have passed since your dog exposed their penis.

In this article, you will learn what paraphimosis is in dogs, the causes of this condition, its clinical signs, and what you can do to help your dog.


What Is Paraphimosis in Dogs?

Paraphimosis develops when the prepuce can no longer be pulled forward over the penis. The prepuce or foreskin is the hairy sheath that you see when you look at your dog. It has the role of covering and protecting the penis. The penis is the pink part that comes out of the foreskin. In paraphimosis, the foreskin catches the externalized penis and prevents normal blood flow.

If left untreated, paraphimosis can lead to complications like penile necrosis and/or urination problems. For these reasons, it is considered a medical emergency.

The clinical signs of paraphimosis are obvious, making you able to quickly realize that something is wrong with your dog. When your dog licks their private parts often and their penis is no longer covered by the foreskin and has a purple color, it is a good reason to contact the vet.

close up male dog with erect penis
Image Credit: charnsitr, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Paraphimosis in Dogs?

When a dog suffers from paraphimosis, they change their behavior. They begin to lick their private parts more frequently, which will lead to further inflammation and redness of the penis.

Common clinical signs of paraphimosis in dogs include:
  • Licking and grooming their private parts often
  • Exposure of the penis
  • Inflammation and redness of the penis
  • Penis may have a purple color (when blood flow to the penis is restricted)
  • Pain
  • Urine dribbling

When you see these clinical signs, it’s time to contact the veterinarian as soon as possible. Paraphimosis does not go away by itself and can lead to severe complications.

What Are the Causes of Paraphimosis in Dogs?

Paraphimosis in dogs can have multiple causes. The most common ones include:

In many situations, this pathology is explained by the presence of abnormalities of the preputial muscles. Reasons for the appearance of paraphimosis in dogs include the presence of a too-small foreskin, short foreskin, weakened foreskin muscles, and various traumas. The penis that cannot be retracted may later suffer various physical traumas and become swollen/inflamed. Finally, it can lead to necrosis of the penis secondary to the impairment of blood circulation at the penile level, which may even result in partial amputation in severe cases 1.

male dog licking its genitals
Image Credit: GenViewFinder, Shutterstock

Paraphimosis can also occur as a result of the manual collection of semen and, less often, after coitus. When paraphimosis occurs, the skin of the preputial opening becomes inverted, trapping the externalized penis. This leads to the obstruction of the circulation from that level. Paraphimosis must be differentiated from other penile or preputial issues, which is easily done based on the physical examination. Other differential diagnoses may include:

  • Priapism
  • Penis neoplasia
  • Congenital short foreskin (from birth) with secondary exposure of the penis
  • Penile hematoma


How Is Paraphimosis in Dogs Diagnosed?

Paraphimosis is diagnosed through physical examination: The veterinarian will examine the foreskin and penis of your dog. Depending on the cause that led to this condition, the veterinarian may recommend complementary tests, such as blood tests and X-rays.

If left untreated, paraphimosis causes suffering in dogs and can have serious consequences.

What Is the Treatment for Paraphimosis in Dogs?

It is recommended not to try to fix your dog’s paraphimosis at home without speaking to your vet. At the clinic, the veterinarian will do the following:

  • Inspection of the penis and the surrounding area
  • Gentle cleaning of the penis
  • Lubricating the penis and trying to reinsert it into the foreskin; penile edema (swelling) will resolve itself once the blood circulation at that level is restored
  • Applying cold/pressure bandages or hypertonic solutions over the swollen penis if lubrication does not help
  • Surgery to rebuild or recreate a properly functioning foreskin; once the penis is reintroduced into the foreskin, the veterinarian can apply a temporary suture to keep it inside

How Do I Care for a Dog With Paraphimosis?

Sad hispanic woman looking upset while caring for her aged ill border collie dog at the veterinary clinic
Image Credit: antoniodiaz, Shutterstock

If you are at home and have no way to contact or reach the veterinarian right away, here is what you can do to help your pet:

  • Inspect your dog’s penis thoroughly for any foreign bodies, hairs, or anything else that could be strangling their penis.
  • Thoroughly clean the area with warm water or saline solution.
  • Apply lubricants to your dog’s penis to favor its reinsertion into the foreskin.
  • Try to gently pull the prepuce over your dog’s penis.
  • Form a sugar paste: Mix regular white sugar and water until a thick paste is formed. Apply the sugar paste over your dog’s swollen penis. The sugar will “extract” the liquid from the tissues and facilitate the reinsertion of the penis into the foreskin.
  • Apply a cold compress over the inflamed area of the penis for 5 minutes at a time, as this will help reduce swelling and inflammation. You could use a bag of frozen veggies, but make sure to wrap it in a towel to prevent an ice burn.

divider-dog paw

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Paraphimosis Be Treated Without Surgery?

Yes. Paraphimosis is usually remedied without surgical intervention if manual reintroduction of the penis into the foreskin is successful. In severe cases where the penis does not remain in the foreskin after reinsertion, a temporary suture can be applied to the foreskin to prevent the penis from sliding out.

Can Dogs Live With Paraphimosis?

Paraphimosis can represent a medical emergency because it can lead to complications like urinary problems and/or necrosis of the penis (which will require amputation). For these reasons, it is recommended to go to the veterinarian if more than 30 minutes have passed since paraphimosis occurred. This medical condition usually does not resolve by itself, requiring the manual reintroduction of the penis into the foreskin.

vet examining a samoyed dog
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock



Paraphimosis is a medical condition that can represent a medical emergency in some cases. In this condition, your dog’s penis can’t return to its original position because the foreskin can’t go back over the penis, which will lead to the prevention of normal blood flow. Consequently, the penis will become inflamed and swollen. If you do not intervene quickly to reinsert the penis back into the foreskin, the tissue may suffer from irreversible damage.

In addition, untreated paraphimosis can lead to urination problems. Clinical signs of this condition in dogs may include externalization of the penis in the absence of erection, licking their private parts, and a red, inflamed, and painful penis. If this is also the case with your dog, contact the doctor immediately. In fact, the vet should be contacted if more than 30 minutes have passed since the penis came out of the foreskin.

The treatment usually includes the manual reintroduction of the penis into the foreskin after it has been lubricated beforehand. In some cases, a temporary suture may be needed on the foreskin to hold the penis inside.

Featured Image Credit: SeventyFour, Shutterstock

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