You did cosmetic surgery on your dog’s WHAT???

Piper, a 6 year old Labrador, had battled bladder infections for her entire life. They cleared up with antibiotics, but kept coming back.

Her family vet at South Mountain Veterinary Hospital ( diagnosed what is called a redundant vulvar fold, which is an extra fold of skin covering her vulva. It is also called “recessed vulva” or “vulvar fold dermatitis”. This is a fairly common condition, especially in overweight dogs, and many go un-diagnosed for years.

How can a skin fold cause bladder infections?

The extra skin fold creates a deep pocket that traps urine. In turn, this pocket creates a warm, moist and dark environment, which is perfect for bacteria to multiply. This causes ongoing infections and sometimes a foul odor. Here is a picture of Piper’s back end before surgery: you can’t see her vulva at all.

Signs of bladder infections may include licking of the vulva, scooting of the back end, bloody urine and “accidents” in the house. Other conditions may cause similar signs, so your family vet should eliminate other problems, such as bladder stones and even bladder cancer.

How can we fix this annoying condition?

  1. The Band-Aid approach is the “medical” treatment. We only treat the symptoms by wiping the area and prescribing antibiotics. This does not treat the cause, so it often frustrating because the infection is likely to come back.
  2. The ideal treatment is surgery. It’s basically plastic surgery on a dog’s vulva! Surgery involves removing the extra skin to provide better ventilation of the vulva.

This reconstructive surgery is called a vulvoplasty or an episioplasty. The main difficulty of the surgery is to remove exactly the right amount of skin: not too much and not too little. Here is a picture of Piper’s back end after surgery.

Recovery generally takes 3 weeks. I don’t use external skin sutures, so there are no stitches to remove in this sensitive area… All stitches are internal and eventually dissolve. An E collar (plastic cone) is worn for the full 3 weeks to prevent licking and to protect the incision.

Overall, this is a common yet frustrating condition. Fortunately, surgery is typically very successful and pet owners are usually very happy with the end result… as well as their dogs!


Labrador with laryngeal paralysis hits the road to recovery


They say that a journey begins with a single step, but sometimes that step is into your car so you can drive five hours for a scheduled surgery!

Hershey’s owner drove all the way from Jamestown, New York near Lake Erie so I could perform surgery at Barton Heights Veterinary Hospital in Pennsylvania. It was quite the road trip.

Hershey is an eleven-year-old Lab whose laryngeal paralysis made it difficult for him to breathe. A complicating factor is that he’s diabetic. Hershey’s vet was not sure that surgery was the best bet, but his owner loves Hershey and wasn’t ready to give up on her best friend.

You can see a video of Hershey and his surgery below. He struggles to breathe before the surgery, but after we perform a “tie back” procedure there’s a nice, wide opening. This lets oxygen get in. A tie back surgery uses nylon sutures to keep one side of the larynx open. Two hours after surgery, you can hear the difference! There’s no more struggling and just nice quiet breathing.

You can also see that a small tumor on Hershey’s eyelid was removed. That is a benign tumor called a chalazion, or an adenoma of a Meibomian gland.

Hershey spent a restful night at Barton Heights, and left the hospital for a five hour drive home!