Inflammation of the penile or preputial mucosa is common in dogs. The normal preputial secretions usually do not result in overt clinical signs. Mild balanoposthitis, resulting in a slight mucopurulent preputial discharge, is present in many sexually mature dogs, resolves spontaneously, and is of little clinical significance. Diagnostic tests and treatment are not necessary, except as needed for reasonable hygiene. Trauma, lacerations, neoplasia, foreign bodies, infection, or phimosis may result in development of more severe balanoposthitis. A mucopurulent preputial discharge is the most common clinical sign. Excessive licking of the prepuce may also be noted. Swelling of the prepuce and pain are rarely present except in cases of trauma or foreign bodies. If signs of systemic illness are present, the possibility of a more serious concomitant disorder should be considered. Balanoposthitis is rare in cats.
The penis and prepuce should be thoroughly examined, to the level of the fornix, for underlying predisposing factors. Sedation or general anesthesia may be needed. Preputial cytology may be helpful. Bacterial cultures of the preputial cavity, although sometimes difficult to interpret due to the presence of normal preputial flora, may be helpful in identifying unusual organisms and determining antibiotic sensitivities for refractory cases.
Treatment includes correcting any predisposing factors, clipping long hair away from the preputial orifice, and thorough flushing of the preputial cavity with a mild antiseptic (eg, dilute povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine) or sterile saline solution. If bacterial infection is suspected, an antibiotic ointment may be infused into the preputial cavity for 7–10 days. Recurrence of mild balanoposthitis is common irrespective of therapy. Castration may diminish genital secretions but will not abolish them.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Cheri A. Johnson, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Small Animal)