Persistent Urachus: A Urinary Developmental Abnormality in Puppies
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
Race Foster, DVM

The most common developmental abnormality of the puppy bladder is a persistent urachus. In the fetus, the urachus is a tube-like structure, which, by exiting through the umbilical (navel) area, connects the puppy's bladder to the placental tissues. This tube allows fetal urine to exit the fetus and be absorbed into the mother's system for elimination from her body. At the time of birth, the urachus should be closed and non-functional.

What are the symptoms?

If the urachus fully persists and is open, then urine will leak from the newborn's navel area. If it partially exists, forming a closed tube or 'diverticulum' off from the bladder, then the puppy will experience abnormal bladder emptying. Bacteria frequently invade this diverticulum from inside the bladder causing repeated bladder infections and painful urination.

What are the risks?

Risks vary depending on the extent of abnormality and the associated urinary infections. All cases are potentially serious, if left untreated.

What is the management?

Surgery to remove the tube or diverticulum from the bladder surface is required, if a cure is to be expected. Antibiotics will help treat any associated infections.

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