I’ve seen several questions popping up lately on social media re: ectopic testes in puppies (in case you are not familiar with this veterinary jargon, it just means that there is one testis « missing » in the scrotum pouch). While all the posts were obviously telling different stories, they were all ending with the same question: in those situations, what’s the prognosis ?
Well, in my opinion, it all depends on 2 essential things.
First, the age of the puppy
Quick reminder: in male puppies, at birth, the testes are located inside the abdomen, behind their kidneys. Those organs will progressively migrate as puppies grow and go through a structure called the inguinal canal (or inguinal ring) to then reach the scrotum.
PS: if you wonder where this approximately is on your dog, the answer in the picture right below - the red marks will give you a better idea where those structures are located - !
The inguinal canal/ring closes at 6 months, theoretically preventing further testicular migration. That’s why when presented with an ectopic testis case, the first recommendation will often be... to wait and re-evaluate when the puppy is more than 6 months.
That being said, remember that the testes are usually descended at the time the puppies are weaned. When it is not the case at 4 months, it is generally a poor prognosis.
Something that is worth mentioning : my former boss told me that once, he saw a case where the missing testis reached the scrotum when the dog was… a year old ! Keep in mind our animals do not always follow the textbooks. Even if they are definitely not so common, those cases do exist for sure.
Second, the location of the missing testis at 4 months.
Locating where the missing testis will also help get a better idea of the prognosis.
This one can indeed only be found at two locations :
- it has not gone through the inguinal canal and is still located inside the abdomen, where it can be detected by ultrasounds ; if this is where the testis is at 4 months, the prognosis is definitely very poor.
- it has gone through the inguinal canal but has not reached the scrotum yet : in this situation it can be felt under the skin in the inguinal region. In this situation there is hope that the testis would reach the scrotum and massaging it to help distend the ligaments might help in this situation.
In my opinion, those two elements might help you get a better idea of what to expect if you ever have to deal with this situation.
By the way, if some of you already ran into a similar situation, I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to share it in the comment section !
Also, I wrote another blog on this same topic many years ago, it covers different aspects of the problem and would be a nice complement to this one. If you are interested you can read it here
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