The prostate is a gland that’s part of the reproductive system in many mammals, including humans and dogs, but did you know that almost all intact male dogs display prostate enlargement as they age? Many neutered dogs may as well.
Fortunately, prostate enlargement in dogs does not necessarily pose a problem by itself, but it is an issue that you must keep an eye on as your dog gets older. Here are some other conditions to be aware of.
Common issues of the dog prostate
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
This is the simple enlargement of your dog’s prostate. Typically, there will be the same level of enlargement in both lobes. It’s non-cancerous and usually does not cause the dog any discomfort. However, if the enlargement is significant, the prostate can obstruct the rectum or apply pressure to the urethra.
In these cases, you may notice that your dog strains while defecating or urinating, suffers from constipation or fecal impaction, has blood in the urine, or has a bloody or yellow discharge from his penis.
If the dog displays no symptoms, no treatment is necessary. However, for those in discomfort, the most effective treatment is neutering in the case of an intact dog. Other possible treatments include estrogen therapy and an anti-fungal drug, ketoconazole, which is available under several brand names. While it may seem strange to use an anti-fungal in this case, it’s because it blocks secretion of certain hormones that would worsen the condition.
This occurs when bacteria enter the dog prostate through the urinary tract or blood. The condition can be acute, with a sudden onset, or chronic, when initial symptoms are overlooked.
Symptoms of an acute infection include difficulty defecating or urinating, lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, fever, abdominal pain, stiff walking, and bloody discharge from the penis. Chronic bacterial infections may have no noticeable symptoms and can be harder to treat. In some cases, the bacteria can become trapped in the prostate and form an abscess.
Your dog will typically receive antibiotics through an IV and require hospitalization. In cases where your dog also suffers from a ruptured, abscessed prostate as a result of the inflammation, surgery is necessary.
These fluid-filled pockets start developing adjacent to the prostate in some medium and large breed dogs shortly after birth, but usually they don’t present a problem until the dog is a few years old.
When the cysts become large, they can put pressure on the urethra or displace the rectum and colon. As a result, your dog may display symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, constipation, painful urination, blood in the urine, abdominal pain or enlargement, stiff walking, and rectal pain.
Castration can help resolve the issue and also prevent future occurrences. Depending on the size of the cyst, it may need to be drained or removed surgically.
Dog prostate cancer
Unlike in humans, prostate cancer is rare for dogs. Unfortunately, when it does occur, it is usually potentially life-threatening, since the cancer can spread throughout the body.
Symptoms include ribbon-shaped stool, loss of appetite and/or weight, difficulty urinating, abdominal pain, fever, and difficulty breathing.
Sadly, there is no cure for canine prostate cancer, but you can achieve short-term remission and relief through radiation and medical therapy.
What were the signs when you first noticed that something was wrong with your dog? What route of treatment did you choose?