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Prostate Problems

Benign prostatic hypertrophy

Benign prostatic hypertrophy means prostatic enlargement and is the most common prostate problem in dogs. It is estimated that by the age of 6 years over 60% of intact males have enlarged prostates and the incidence keeps increasing from then onwards.  Prostatic disease may both affect the dog’s health and fertility.

 

Initially dogs show no symptoms. As the condition progresses, the signs of prostatic hypertrophy will typically be constipation and frequent urination of small amounts at a time. A small stream of urine is voided instead of a strong stream, together with dripping of urine and small specs of blood visible at the prepuce at the end of urination. The semen may also be blood-tinged. It is important to determine what the nature of the dog’s prostate problem is. If breeding is no longer desired, castration is the treatment of choice. If a breeder still wants to breed with the affected stud dog, medical treatment can be attempted. Lifelong medical management is required using a drug which blocks the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. As is the case with humans, this drug can cause reduced libido in susceptible individuals. It is probably best to treat the stud dog until the dog has reached the end of its reproductive career, and then castrate them.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis refers to an infection of the prostate gland. Most dogs which suffer from prostatitis also suffer from BPH because BPH predisposes the prostatic gland to infection from ascending bacteria in the urogenital tract. Again, the treatment of choice is castration. If the breeder wishes to still breed, specific drugs to treat the bacterial infection (if present) and drugs to reduce prostate size are available. Treatment for prostatitis in most cases should be regarded as an interim measure until the stud dog reaches the end of its reproductive career. At that point it is wise to castrate the dog to decrease the chance of recurrence. The symptoms of prostatitis are similar to BPH with the exception that dogs suffering from prostatitis usually have more blood in the urine and are febrile. Appropriate long term antibiotic treatment for the bacterial infection is indicated together with the treatment of the BPH. Prostatitis is rare in castrated males. Prostatitis can predispose dogs to prostatic abscesses.

Prostatic And Paraprostatic Cysts And Prostatic Abscesses

In dogs, cysts may be found inside the prostate gland itself (prostatic cyst) or outside but adjacent to the prostate gland (paraprostatic cyst). Most prostatic cystic conditions are incidental findings and are often asymptomatic. The veterinary surgeon should at this point attempt to distinguish between the various types of cysts. Cysts may later become abscessed and pose a very serious threat to the dog’s life.

Prostatic Cancer

Prostatic neoplasia (cancer of the prostate) is a rare condition which can befall both neutered and intact male dogs. However  intact male dogs seem to have a slight decreased risk. It is a serious condition that can metastasise (spread) to other organs. Castration does not slow the progression of prostatic neoplasia. Although a total prostatectomy or chemo- and radiotherapy can help, the prognosis remains poor. Tests for early prostatic cancer detection in humans are already available but the development of such tests for dogs is a work in progress. The symptoms are similar to those of BPH. Treatment options are limited and the chances of recovery is poor. In the end, the best option is most probably a total prostatectomy.