Last Updated on: 3rd November 2021, 12:27 pm
“Blue balls” is the simple and popular term for a relatively benign medical condition with a complicated medical term – epididymal hypertension (EH). Epididimyal hypertension develops as a result of increased blood pressure within the seminal canals caused by sexual arousal. “Blue balls” is not a particularly common medical issue, and the balls do not become blue but gain a rather bluish hue. But is the condition possible in animals with male genitals?
Can dogs get blue balls? Dogs cannot get blue balls, at least not for the same reason men do. This is because the physiology of the canine erection is different than that of humans. However, the dog’s balls can get a blue, red, or purple discoloration due to other medical conditions like testicular tension and infection.
This article will cover the most common reasons a dog’s balls may turn blue – the underlying causes, the symptoms, and the possible treatment options.
CAN DOGS GET BLUE BALLS?
Yes, as already mentioned, dogs can get blue balls but not due to the same reasons as people.
Namely, two major ball-related issues can lead to bluish discoloration of the balls – testicular infection and torsion. The first problem is more manageable, while the latter is a medical emergency that requires aggressive management.
It is worth mentioning that all testicular health problems are 100% preventable – all you need to do is schedule neutering for your dog. There are both pros and cons of the neuter procedure for dogs. However, in most cases, the pros outweigh the cons.
DOG TESTICULAR INFECTION BLUE BALLS
The medical term for testicular infection is orchitis. It is described as an inflammatory condition that can affect one or both balls. If only one ball is affected, it is called unilateral, and if both testes are affected, it is called bilateral.
Orchitis usually occurs in conjunction with epididymitis – infection of the epididymis (main seminal canal) because the two structures are closely related.
More often than not, orchitis is caused by bacteria entering the testes through the urine, blood, or prostatic secretions. Although bacteria are the most common culprit, other pathogens have been associated with orchitis:
- Viral infections – Canine distemper virus
- Fungal infections – coccidiomycosis and blastomycosis
- Tick-borne pathogens – Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis.
There is also a specific form of immune-mediated orchitis (lymphocytic orchitis) caused by trauma to the testes. In such cases, trauma initiates a situation in which the dog’s immune system starts attacking the testicular tissues causing damage and inflammation.
Clinical signs and symptoms
A dog with orchitis will show the following signs and symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen testes
- Blue, red, or purple discoloration
- Extreme pain upon touch.
The vet will start with a thorough physical examination which will include inspection and palpation of the testes. Then, they will recommend additional diagnostic procedures like:
- Blood and urine analysis (complete blood cell count, biochemistry profiles, and urine production) to determine the infection presence and gain insight into the dog’s overall health
- Brucella Canis serum tests – B. canis is a common cause of testicular infection in dogs, so all dogs must be checked for this form of infection.
- Scrotal radiographs and ultrasonography – check the extent of the infection and whether one or both balls are affected.
- Testicular aspirate and cytology – involves inserting a needle with a syringe and taking an aspirate from the balls, which will then be analyzed.
- Biopsy – if the vet suspects the infection is part of the problem while the other part is a neoplastic formation.
The treatment of choice is antibiotic therapy. The vet will perform culture testing to determine which antibiotic is best suited based on the type of pathogen causing the problem. The vet can also prescribe non-stimulant or stimulant anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation and reduce swelling.
In more severe cases, the vet may recommend hospitalization and administration of intravenous fluids. To alleviate pain and speed up the recovery period, cold compresses are indicated.
In cases of fungal infections, the vet will prescribe antifungal medications and, if dealing with immune-mediated infections – immunosuppressive drugs (roids).
Sometimes, medical treatment may not result in complete infection resolution. In such cases, the vet will recommend neutering your dog. Neutering will prevent future incidents and significantly decrease the length of the treatment period. Plus, neutering will prevent infection from spreading to other organs like, for example, the prostate or bladder.
Considering the permanency of the neutering option, it is highly advisable to go through the decision with your vet before making the ultimate decision.
The prognosis is generally good for dogs who responded to antibiotic therapy, but the condition has a pronounced tendency to reoccur. For neutered dogs, his prognosis is good.
TESTICULAR TORSION DOG BLUE BALLS
Testicular torsion is a condition that develops when the actual ball part of the testes twists and rotates around its spermatic cord—the rotation cuts of the blood supply leading to infractions.
Usually, torsions are associated with undescended and neoplastic balls because the increased weight of these balls makes it easier for them to rotate and twist. However, it can also develop in normal and descended balls, especially after traumatic rupturing of the scrotal ligament.
Clinical signs and symptoms
Testicular torsion is an extremely painful condition. In addition to the typical signs of pain, a dog with testicular torsion will likely display some of the following clinical signs and symptoms:
- Increased body temperature
- Loss of appetite
- Reluctance to stand or walk
- Abdominal and scrotal pain
- Bluish discoloration of the gonads
- Swollen testis or gonads
As in any other situation, the vet will start with a full physical examination and, based on the initial findings, recommend additional tests and procedures, including:
- Blood analysis (complete blood cell count and biochemistry profile) – to check for infections and evaluate the dog’s overall health and ability to undergo anesthesia if surgical treatment is warranted.
- Urinalysis – to determine the presence of infections or crystals in the urinary tract and evaluate the overall health profile.
- Scrotal radiographs and ultrasonography – useful for determining what is going on with the testes (the exact problem, location, and severity).
The treatment of choice is surgical correction. The vet will anesthetize the dog and correct the twist. If there is significant tissue damage, they will recommend removing the damaged canine male ball or both testes. Then after the procedure, the vet will prescribe antibiotics and pain killers.
Sometimes, it is possible for the vet to reposition the testes manually. However, this is usually possible in less advanced cases.
Additionally, testicular torsion tends to reoccur, meaning if your dog developed it once, chances are it will experience it again in the future. Therefore, unless your dog is an invaluable stud specimen, the right course of action would be to have it neutered while under anesthesia for the de-torsion procedure.
The prognosis is good for dogs that received prompt and adequate veterinary care and dogs that do not have neoplasia as an underlying issue.
Unless your dog is neutered, chances are you will go through some testicular problem at least once. Some testicular issues are benign and self-limiting, while others are serious and require immediate veterinary attention.
If you notice something looks unusual with your dog’s testes, it is important to seek veterinary attention. If the problem is minor, you will get peace of mind after the checkup, and in case the issue is severe, the vet will be able to initiate immediate treatment.
Finally, if your dog is prone to testicular issues, perhaps the best option would be to have its testes removed. Talk to the vet about the pros and cons of neutering, and then make an educated decision.
Can I treat my dog’s testicular problem at home?
Testicular problems cannot be treated at home. Infections are generally treated with antibiotics meaning the vet will need to determine the right antibiotic for the job and write a prescription. Torsions, on the other hand, are true emergencies requiring urgent veterinary attention and surgical correction.
Can testicular torsion go away?
It is not possible for twisted balls to get back to their normal position on their own. The treatment of choice for ball de-torsion is surgical correction. Rarely, the vet can manually fix the twisting by pushing the gonads. However, this manual technique is not always possible.
Why are my dog’s balls flaky?
When damaged, the skin responds by shedding, which usually occurs a couple of days after the damaging issue. This concept also applies to the skin covering the gonads (testicular sac). You can use coconut oil to soothe the peeling skin and help it re-moisturize.
What are testicular bruises?
The blood vessels (arteries and veins) surrounding the testes are very sensitive and can easily get damaged and start leaking blood. In such cases, accumulation of blood beneath the skin can cause discoloration of the genitalia – they usually become bluish to black. The condition may look concerning but is rather benign and self-limiting.