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A doggie with something extra

Within one minute or so, I learn that Wan-Wan, my poodle pup, is facing two health problems, one rather ordinary and the other rare, but neither critical.

Published on February 2, 2008

For a few weeks, she's been constantly licking both her anus and her vulva - front and back, so to speak. I'm not too worried, though. The pup's appetite is normal, and she's just as hyperactive as usual.

When I take her to the vet's for a bath and a cut, I ask the vet to examine her, just to make sure she's all right. The vet immediately finds that the doggie's anal glands, those sacs located on either side of her anus, have not been emptying normally. Now, they're uncomfortably full.

As the vet "expresses" the glands, pressing them until the brownish liquid empties, she explains that this "impaction" is normally found in small dogs, although almost any dog may face this problem.

Usually, when the dog eliminates, the sacs empty automatically, but if the stool is too soft, if the dog is over-active, or if he's suffering from stress, the sacs might impact and need to be emptied manually.

Should you ignore the problem, you're going to have one very uncomfortable doggie. In addition, the impaction may mask other, more serious problems, such as infection or a tumour. If your dog, like Wan, is licking himself constantly, if he scoots across the floor on his behind, do have your vet check him. Anal-sac impaction, while not dangerous in itself, should be cleared up regularly.

After Wan's own impaction is solved, I ask the vet to examine the dog's other opening. There, we find that her female sexual organ is red and inflamed, probably from all the licking she's been doing.

Then the vet gently probes inside, and guess what pops out. Yes, my little girl has a male sexual organ. Talk about bisexuality!

My vet isn't worried. Although rare, it happens. A male dog might be born with female organs, or, like Wan, a female might come into this world with male organs.

Before birth, my vet explains, all canine fetuses have both female and male genitalia. Then, during gestation, one set atrophies. In Wan's case, the male set didn't disappear completely.

Wan isn't a real hermaphrodite, since her male organs are not complete. She doesn't have any balls (my vet would have discovered them when she spayed her a few months ago). That little thingie is almost vestigial too. No, Wan will never be a daddy. She is, as the vet says, a "dominant female" - with something extra.

The little thingie's presence doesn't seem to have caused her any problems. We probably would never have discovered it if Wan hadn't been so uncomfortable from her impacted anal glands.

An operation to remove the thingie isn't necessary. Besides, the scars that would result from surgery might block her urinary tract and she wouldn't be able to urinate.

Just to be sure, my vet wants to monitor Wan every month, but for now, the motto is: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

By Laurie rosenthal  

Questions about your pets?

Fax (02) 751 4446 or e-mail laurie@nationgroup.com.

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