How to Stop Dog Smegma (Causes, Symptoms & Tips)

Last Updated on: June 12, 2024

Smegma becomes a problem when it causes discomfort or pain to your pet. Below, we discuss the causes, symptoms, and how to stop dog smegma. 

One aspect of canine hygiene many pet owners overlook is smegma in dogs. While it might not be a topic discussed at the dog park, it’s an important matter that every responsible dog owner should know. 

A Brief Look at the Anatomy of a Dog Penis

Let’s first describe a dog’s genitals comprehensively to understand dog smegma better.

A dog’s penis is crucial to the reproductive and urinary systems. At its core, it consists of two primary components: the penile shaft and the bulbus glandis. The penile shaft is a long, cylindrical structure that extends from the base to the tip of your dog’s penis. Additionally, a retractable sheath called a dog’s prepuce covers the penis.  

You can monitor your pet’s health using this basic understanding of your dog’s penis because healthy dogs don’t have any discomfort, inflammation, or unusual discharge in this area. 

Therefore, if your pet shows such signs, visit a veterinarian, as it may have underlying health issues, such as excessive dog smegma.

What is Dog Smegma

Smegma in dogs is a natural, waxy substance that can accumulate in a dog’s genitals, primarily in males. It’s a mixture of oils, dead skin cells, and other bodily fluids with a protective function to keep the genitals moisturized and free from irritants. However, when it builds up in your dog’s penis, it can lead to hygiene issues and discomfort. 

Known Causes of Dog Smegma

There are many causes of smegma increase in your dog’s penis, and they include the following:

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations can significantly impact a dog’s smegma production. Male dogs, in particular, may produce more during puberty when their testosterone levels increase. Similarly, intact (non-neutered) males may have more smegma than neutered males due to their hormone levels.

Bacterial or Yeast Infections

Bacteria or yeast overgrowth can create an environment that leads to infections. In turn, this may overstimulate a dog’s smegma production.

Poor Hygiene

Neglecting your dog’s prepuce and overall genital hygiene can contribute to this accumulation, particularly in dogs with skin folds or long fur around the genitals. Oils, dead skin cells, and other debris can accumulate in such a dog’s penis.

Allergies or Dermatitis

Such conditions in the genital region can cause inflammation and irritation, triggering increased smegma in dogs as a protective response. Dogs with food or environmental allergies may be more prone to this issue.

Foreign Objects or Irritants

Sometimes, foreign objects or irritants can get trapped in a dog’s genitals, leading to smegma overproduction for protection.

Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as urinary tract infections, diabetes, or skin disorders, may affect hormone levels, immune system, or skin health, contributing to dog smegma accumulation. 

The Common Symptoms of Excessive Dog Smegma 

Symptoms of dog’s smegma overproduction vary in severity and may include the following:

Foul Odor

One of the most noticeable symptoms is a strong, unpleasant odor emanating from the genital area because of the accumulation of dead skin cells, oils, and bacteria. You may also describe this smell as musky, fishy, or sour. 

Discharge

Smegma accumulation in a male dog can lead to a thick, yellowish discharge. This mixture of oils, dead skin cells, and other bodily fluids may be sticky and uncomfortable for the dog.

Licking and Scratching

An unexplained increase in dog smegma may cause your pet to lick or scratch the genital area due to discomfort and itching. On top of that, excessive licking and scratching can lead to irritation and further complications.

Redness and Swelling

The skin around a dog’s genitals may become red and swollen from the irritation caused by smegma increase and the dog’s attempts to alleviate the discomfort through licking and scratching.

Pain or Discomfort

Dogs with significant smegma increase may experience pain or discomfort, especially when urinating or defecating. The smegma can create a barrier that makes these activities uncomfortable or painful.

Behavioral Changes

A dog suffering from smegma-related discomfort may exhibit changes in behavior. They might become more irritable, restless, or anxious.

Difficulty Urinating

In severe cases, dog smegma buildup can obstruct the urethra, making it difficult for the pet to urinate. Dog owners should watch out for such a symptom because it requires immediate veterinary attention.

While these symptoms are common in dogs with smegma, they can also indicate other underlying health issues, such as urinary tract infections or skin conditions. Therefore, if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

How Smegma Infections are Diagnosed

Diagnosing dog smegma involves a combination of activities. Here’s a detailed explanation of how a veterinarian diagnoses dog smegma:

Analyzing Your Pet’s History

The diagnostic process often begins with a veterinarian discussing the medical history with dog owners. They may ask questions about the dog’s age, breed, reproductive status (intact or neutered), diet, and any noticeable changes in behavior or health.

Physical Examination

A vet then conducts a thorough physical examination, paying close attention to the dog’s genitals. They look for signs of smegma, such as waxy or crusty buildup around your dog’s prepuce. A vet may also note the characteristic foul odor associated with smegma. 

Sampling

In some cases, the vet may collect a sample of the smegma for further examination. To do that, they gently swab the affected area.

Additional Tests

If a vet suspects an underlying medical condition, they may recommend blood tests, urinalysis, or imaging (such as ultrasound). These additional tests rule out issues like a urinary tract infection, hormonal imbalances, or anatomical abnormalities that could be contributing to the smegma problem.

Discussion and Treatment Plan

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the veterinarian will discuss the findings with a dog owner and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. This plan may involve steps for cleaning and managing smegma, addressing any underlying health issues, and guiding on maintaining proper genital hygiene for the dog.

How to Clean Dog Smegma at Home

Cleaning male dog smegma at home is a straightforward process that can help maintain your dog’s hygiene and prevent discomfort. Before attempting to clean smegma, ensure your dog is comfortable and calm.

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Mild pet shampoo or dog-specific genital area cleanser
  • Warm water
  • Soft, clean cloth or gauze pad
  • Latex or nitrile gloves (optional)
  • Treats or rewards for positive reinforcement

Steps to Clean Dog Smegma

Prepare a Comfortable Environment

Find a quiet, well-lit space where you and your dog can be at ease. You may want to have someone assist you by gently restraining the dog if necessary.

Wear Gloves (Optional)

If you prefer, you can wear latex or nitrile gloves to maintain cleanliness during the process.

Clean the Genital Area

Dampen a soft cloth or gauze pad with warm water. Gently wipe the dog’s genital area to remove any loose smegma or debris. Be delicate and avoid applying excessive pressure.

Use a Mild Cleanser

Apply a small amount of mild pet shampoo or a dog-specific genital area cleanser to the cloth or gauze. Ensure the product is suitable for dogs and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals or fragrances.

Cleanse the Area

Wipe the genital area with a cloth or gauze pad soaked in the cleanser. Pay close attention to any folds or creases where smegma may accumulate. Be cautious not to insert the cleaning cloth too deeply or cause discomfort.

Rinse Thoroughly

Rinse the area with warm water to remove any leftover cleanser residue. 

Dry the Area

Pat the genital area dry with a clean and dry cloth to prevent moisture buildup.

Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog with treats, praise, and affection to create a positive association with the cleaning process.

Monitor for Improvement

Inspect your dog’s genital area for signs of continued smegma buildup, irritation, or unusual odors. If the buildup persists, consult your veterinarian for further evaluation.

When You Should Visit a Vet: The Signs to Watch Out for

Dog smegma infection symptoms may persist despite your efforts to keep your pet’s genitals clean. Such symptoms show the buildup may be severe and require professional veterinary attention, not home treatment. Watch out for the following:

  • If the smegma emits an extremely strong or unusual odor that doesn’t improve with cleaning, it may indicate an infection or other underlying problem.
  • If your dog displays signs of pain, discomfort, or reluctance when you try to clean or touch the genital area, it could signal a more serious issue.
  • Excessive redness, swelling, or signs of irritation in the genital area may signify an infection or allergic reaction.
  • A sudden change in your dog’s behavior may confirm discomfort or pain. For instance, your pet may show increased agitation, excessive licking, or attempts to bite or scratch the genital area.
  • Any abnormal bleeding, discharge, or pus from the genital area requires a vet’s attention.
  • If the smegma accumulates rapidly and repeatedly despite regular cleaning efforts, it might be a symptom of an underlying issue.
  • If your dog becomes lethargic or refuses to eat, it could be a sign that the smegma issue is causing more significant discomfort or illness.

Preventive Measure: How to Prevent Smegma Buildup

Preventing new smegma infections in dogs involves a combination of proper hygiene practices, dietary considerations, and regular veterinary care. Here’s a detailed guide on how to stop dog smegma:

Regular Cleaning

Maintain good genital hygiene for your dog. Use a mild, pet-friendly cleanser or warm water to clean the genital area, especially for male dogs. Avoid harsh soaps or chemical-laden products, as they can irritate sensitive skin.

Regular Bathing

Bathe your dog regularly but not excessively, as frequent bathing can strip away natural oils from the skin. A clean dog is less likely to develop excessive smegma.

Dietary Considerations

Excess oil may cause a dog’s smegma accumulation. Therefore, treat your pet to a balanced diet with essential nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, to promote healthy skin and reduce excess oil.

Proper Water Intake

Encourage your dog to drink enough water. Proper hydration helps maintain the health of the skin and mucous membranes, reducing the risk of smegma-related issues.

Neutering

If your male dog isn’t a breeding pet, consider neutering. Neutered ones often produce less smegma because their testosterone levels decrease, reducing the stimulation of oil-producing glands in the genital area.

Get Regular Vet Check-ups

Schedule regular veterinary visits for your dog. Your veterinarian can identify and address underlying health issues like infections or allergies.

Avoid Irritants

Prevent your dog from coming into contact with irritants or allergens that can worsen smegma issues. Avoid using harsh detergents on their bedding or storing chemicals in their environment.

Regular Exercise

Encourage physical activity to promote the overall health of your pet. Exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of skin issues.

Conclusion

Understanding the causes and symptoms of smegma is the first step toward addressing this common yet often overlooked concern. You can make a few changes to your pet’s grooming routine to prevent this buildup. For instance, provide regular, gentle grooming with mild, dog-friendly products. 

On top of that, keep your pet in a clean house without chemicals and other irritants. Don’t forget to take your canine to a vet regularly, as that’s where you can catch smegma increase early. 

FAQs

Is it normal for male dogs to have more smegma than usual?

Yes, it’s not uncommon for dogs to experience changes in smegma production due to factors like hormonal changes. However, significant and persistent increases may indicate an underlying health issue.

Do neutered dogs produce smegma?

Yes, they do, but neutering can reduce smegma production in male dogs because it lowers their testosterone levels.

What does excessive smegma smell like?

A dog’s smegma overproduction leaves your pet with an unpleasant musky or fishy odor.

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