Rectal Prolapse Repair Surgery

Brown and white tabby being held by staff member

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is a rectal prolapse?

A rectal prolapse is a protrusion of rectal mucosa through the anus.

What causes a rectal prolapse in pets?

Rectal prolapse in pets can be caused by:

  • Severe diarrhea
  • Straining to defecate or urinate
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty giving birth
  • Anal gland issues
  • Weakened pelvic floor muscles
  • Cancer

Will rectal prolapse heal itself in dogs? What happens if you don’t fix my pet’s rectal prolapse?

It is important to seek treatment as soon as you notice your pet is having a problem. Mild prolapses may resolve on their own once the underlying cause is addressed. In the case of a complete prolapse, surgical intervention is required. Left untreated, the rectum will swell and begin to dry out and, eventually, the tissue will become necrotic (die). This may lead to sepsis, infection, or death.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water until the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Rectal Prolapse Repair Surgery

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease risk of potential infection.

The type of repair will depend on the extent of the prolapse. In minor prolapse, the tissue will be replaced, and a “purse string” suture placed to prevent it from coming back out while the underlying condition is treated. For more extensive or recurrent prolapses, the veterinarian will make an incision into the abdomen and tack or suture the colon to the body wall making it more difficult for the rectum to prolapse.

Caring for Your Pet After Rectal Prolapse Repair Surgery

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
    Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • Monitor for increased redness, swelling, discharge, or pulling apart of the incision.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off-leash activity during the entire recovery period.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

If your pet has sutures, schedule an appointment for removal in 10-14 days

  • Your pet may need to be sedated for the suture removal procedure, so please plan accordingly.

How long does it take for a pet to recover from rectal prolapse repair surgery?

Most pets recover within 10 to 14 days of rectal prolapse repair surgery.

Rare, but Serious Complications of Rectal Prolapse Repair Surgery

Complications from a rectal prolapse repair are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Incontinence that does not resolve within a week
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Recurrence of the rectal prolapse

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours