Inflammation of the
testicles (Orchitis)

We are still discussing infertility in the male, and within this context physical injuries and infections (from bacteria, fungi and viruses) of the testicles are very common causes of the inability of males to breed. I should mention that attached to the testicle is an organ (epididymis), the main function of which is to ensure maturation and storage of semen.  Usually, not only the testicle is inflamed but also the epididymis.  Therefore, the inflammatory condition should really be called orchiepididymitis.  Now that you have read this, you may just file it away in your brain’s memory centre – probably never to be recalled.  However, for those who keep these columns in a file, you now have a written record to which you may forever refer.


In terms of the physical injuries to the testicles, we have encountered a host of causes.  Not so long ago, I was confronted with a dog with swollen testicles, which were due to gunshot wounds.  It was a hunting dog, and somehow he got between the gun of the careless owner and the target.  His testicles (and other parts of his body) were riddled with pellets.  A few years ago, an Ambassador’s dog was presented with a bullet wound in the testicles as a result of an irresponsible security guard letting loose a few rounds at the Ambassador’s barking dog.

20130113steveKicks or lashes with a piece of wood or any other lethal weapon, directed at the dog in general, but landing on the dog’s testicles, can create an inflammatory process of which massive swelling is but one symptom.  Also, we have seen dogs running through yards, where nails and galvanized zinc sheets are left carelessly lying about, sustaining deep puncture wounds and gashes.

When male dogs get into fights, the scrotum (the skin around the testicles) and the testicles themselves can sustain terrible bite lesions.  Bacteria are carried, via the canal created, by the puncture deep into the testicular tissue.  The outcome is a severe infection.  Of course, if a male dog is brought to a bitch for mating, but she is not quite ready to let him mount, she might direct a few bites his way and sometimes his testicles are on the receiving end of the action.

There are other physical causes of a testicular inflammation.  Dogs (especially hunting dogs) which have been through thick undergrowth and bush might encounter plants (eg stinging nettle) which can brush against the tender skin (scrotum) surrounding the testicles. Thorns can create great damage to the scrotum and to the testicles.  The skin reacts violently and the inflammation is passed on to the testicles.  Similarly, chemical agents (eg acids and caustic soda) and thermal burns can lead to severe inflammation of the testicles (orchitis).

A sad look from a female dog waiting in hope at the GSPCA that someone will offer her a good home.
A sad look from a female dog waiting in hope at the GSPCA that someone will offer her a good home.

When bacterial infection is the cause of the orchitis, we are dealing mostly with a secondary infection.  For example, I mentioned above that a bite wound can carry germs deep into the testicular tissue.  However, more specific diseases such as canine distemper can send the causative agent (a virus in this case) to attack the testes.  Brucellosis (also called contagious abortion) has been associated with the infection of the testicles.

I should mention in passing that luckily, it seems that our dogs in Guyana have not overtly displayed symptoms of the disease canine brucellosis, and to my knowledge, analysis of blood samples have not confirmed this disease, so I suppose we shouldn’t place too much emphasis on this possibility.

Similarly, if the kidneys have become infected, then the germs can find their way to inflame the bladder (cystitis), this bladder infection can in turn spread to the testicles.  The week before the last, we wrote about posthitis and balanoposthitis as ailments of the reproductive tract in males.  Well, the bacteria involved in these diseases can also wander to the testicles and infect them.  Also, an inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis) can precipitate an infection of the testicles.  Finally, I must mention that a ‘tube’ called the Vas Deferens can act as a conduit to carry bacteria back to the testes from the urethra (the tube connecting to the bladder with the penis).

Because of space constraints we’ll deal with the signs and cures for orchitis next week.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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