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Canine Prostate Diseases

Clare Deming
dog getting checkup

Canine prostate disease is uncommon in general but is seen more frequently in pets that have not been neutered. Symptoms may be initially vague, but your veterinarian can help determine if your dog is suffering from a canine prostate disease.

Common Prostate Diseases

The prostate gland is located behind the bladder and in front of the pelvis in dogs. The prostate encircles the urethra, the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. The prostate's function is to make some of the fluid component of semen. There are several prostate diseases that are common for unneutered dogs.

anatomy

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy

The most common canine prostate disease is benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). This condition occurs in unneutered male dogs. It happens more commonly in older dogs than younger dogs. BPH is present in 50% of unneutered dogs by four to five years of age. It results from normal aging and chronic stimulation of the prostate from testosterone.

Many dogs with BPH have no symptoms at all. Some dogs with more advanced BPH will show symptoms such as:

Prostatic Cyst

Prostatic cysts are fluid-filled areas that develop within or around the canine prostate gland. Cysts that occur around the prostate gland can be very large. Those within the prostate tissue usually communicate with the urethra. Most dogs that develop prostatic cysts have some other type of canine prostate disease as well.

Symptoms of prostatic cysts can include:

Prostatitis

Prostatitis occurs when the prostate gland becomes inflamed and infected. This happens in dogs that have first developed BPH. Infection can be caused by a variety of bacteria. Certain bacteria, such as Brucella canis, are associated with more serious public health concerns because they are contagious to other dogs and people. The American Kennel Club recommends testing breeding animals for brucellosis.

Symptoms of prostatitis will vary depending upon how sick the dog is. If a prostate infection spreads through the body, sepsis, shock, and death can result. Symptoms of prostatitis can include:

  • Excessive urination
  • Straining to defecate
  • Blood in the urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Stiffness in the hind end
  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

Canine Prostate Cancer

Cancer is always a scary diagnosis, but fortunately, prostate cancer in dogs is rare. The National Canine Cancer Foundation reports 0.67% of all dogs with cancer have disease involving the prostate. Prostate cancer occurs more commonly in dogs over eight years of age. It is unclear whether it is more common in neutered dogs or unneutered dogs. The two main types of prostate cancer are transitional cell carcinoma and prostatic carcinoma.

Symptoms of canine prostate cancer can overlap with those of other prostate diseases. Symptoms include:

  • Straining or difficulty urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Weight loss
  • Pain
  • Straining to defecate
  • Constipation
  • Stiffness in the hind end

How Is Canine Prostate Disease Diagnosed?

Diagnosis of canine prostate disease usually requires several steps.

Blood and Urine Tests

Your veterinarian will start by performing a complete physical exam. If your dog has blood in his urine or is straining to urinate, your veterinarian will likely order a urinalysis or urine culture. This test is used to check for infection in the urinary tract as well as other internal problems.

Rectal Exam

If your vet suspects a prostate problem, he will need to perform a rectal exam. This can help determine if the prostate is enlarged, and if there is any asymmetry to the gland. Your vet may also have X-rays taken to check the prostate size and to rule out bladder stones.

Further Testing

Once the problem has been localized to the prostate, your vet will decide if any other testing is needed. BPH is often noted in asymptomatic dogs and no other testing may be needed. For dogs that are showing symptoms, an ultrasound of the abdomen can help identify prostatic cysts or cancer. Dogs that have prostatitis may require blood testing to see if the infection has affected the rest of the body.

If your vet suspects prostate cancer, an aspirate or biopsy of the prostate may be needed. These procedures require ultrasound guidance and sedation or anesthesia.

Treatments for Canine Prostate Disease

The necessary treatment for canine prostate disease will depend on which specific disease is diagnosed. For BPH, prostatic cysts, and prostatitis, your vet will probably recommend neutering your dog. Other treatments may be needed first, but neutering can reduce the risk of recurrence for prostate disease.

Other treatments can include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Pain medication
  • Stool softeners
  • Finasteride - a drug that reduces hormonal effects on the prostate.

Large prostatic cysts may require surgery, drain placement, or ultrasound-guided drainage. According to North Carolina State Veterinary Hospital, treatment for canine prostate cancer can be very complicated, consisting of a combination of surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy. In some cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help shrink the tumor. Unfortunately, even with advanced treatment, prostate cancer in dogs is an aggressive disease, and patients don't survive more than a year.

Neuter to Prevent Prostate Disease

Most prostate diseases can be prevented by neutering your dog. Without the influence of testosterone, the prostate remains small and is almost never a source of problems for your dog as he ages. Canine prostate cancer is so rare, no one knows what may influence its development. Taking your dog for a routine physical exam at least once a year may help identify an enlarged prostate before it becomes a serious health threat.

With luck, your dog will never experience canine prostate disease. Neutering your dog before he is fully grown will prevent almost all prostate diseases and keep him healthy and happy for a long time to come.

Canine Prostate Diseases