Priapism is a rare disorder in dogs. However, when it is diagnosed, if the condition does not subside quickly (within 24 to
48 hours), surgical treatment is usually the only option. Reported pharmacologic treatments and supportive care for this condition
in dogs include pseudoephedrine, lubricants, topical anti-inflammatories, oral and injectable antibiotics, penile injections
of phenylephrine, anticholinergics (e.g. benztropine, atropine, and diphenhydramine), Elizabethan collars to avoid self-mutilation, and, possibly, terbutaline.
Case reports 1 and 2 detailed here are cases of successful treatment of priapism in dogs with terbutaline, which has been
shown to be effective in randomized controlled trials in men. This is the first report of the use of terbutaline for priapism
in dogs. The limitations of these case reports are clearly that they were not randomized, controlled studies, and combinations
of therapies used to treat priapism of other species (men, horses) were used concurrently. However, because of the infrequency
of this condition in companion animals, it is unlikely that any larger-scale randomized, controlled studies will be performed.
Despite this, I hope that practitioners faced with this disorder will attempt to use these pharmacologic treatments (after
discussing the extralabel usage with owners and getting informed consent), including terbutaline, before subjecting patients
to penile amputation.
Benjamin H. Cassutto, DVM
Lightbeacon Veterinary Services
18 Ward Way
Millsboro, DE 19966
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