Oz: Diagnosing prostatic gland abnormalities in canines
All men older than age 50 are advised to get their prostate gland checked regularly. Male dogs can also suffer from prostatic abnormalities.
The prostate is an accessory sex gland in males that completely surrounds the urethra at the neck of the bladder. The prostate produces the sperm fluids.
The most common abnormalities in the prostate glands are infections (prostatitis), benign enlargement of the prostate or prostatic cancer.
Prostatitis is an infection of the prostate. This infection is usually accompanied by systemic signs of illness such as fever, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and painful urination. Many of the dogs suffering from prostatitis will have an arched back.
The infection can become chronic and severely affect the dog’s fertility.
Your veterinarian may want to collect prostatic secretions for culture and cytology. Once the diagnosis is made, the dog is placed on an oral antibiotic selected on the basis of culture and sensitivity tests.
Antibiotics have difficulty penetrating the swollen prostate, so long-term administration is necessary. Culturing a sample of fluids from the prostate allows the isolation of the specific causative agent of the infection and the best drug to treat it.
Any diagnosis of the prostatic abnormalities is done first by a physical exam. Palpation of the prostate via rectal exam yields essential information.
The prostate gland size, symmetry and existence of pain upon palpation, are all important data required in order to reach a diagnosis.
When infection is suspected, the dog will be treated with systemic antibiotics. If the infection complicates and a prostatic abscess is formed, a surgical intervention is usually required.
The second and most common prostatic abnormality in dogs is a benign enlargement of the prostate gland. This condition is called hyperplasia. Prostatic hyperplasia is a symmetric enlargement of the prostate.
This condition is caused due to testosterone effect, thus can only affect intact dogs.
The process of the enlargement usually starts when the dog is around five years old.
The prostate gland gradually increases in size. Because of its location, when the prostate gland enlarges significantly, it presses on the rectum and disturbs normal passage of feces, leading to constipation.
Although less common, the prostate gland can also alter urine passage in the urethra and urination.
The typical symptoms associated with that condition are straining to urinate and the presence of blood in the urine.
The best treatment for the benign enlargement of the prostate gland is eliminating the testosterone from the body by neutering the dog.
The enlarged prostate decreases in size shortly after the dog gets neutered.
The third type of prostatic pathology is prostatic cancer. This type of cancer is fairly rare in dogs.
It is not influenced by testosterone, so it can occur in both neutered and intact male dogs.
Ultrasonography provides additional information and may be helpful in guiding a needle into the prostate to obtain a biopsy, a procedure indicated when cancer is suspected.
Unfortunately, usually by the time of the cancer diagnosis, the condition is too advanced to be treated.
While I’m a strong believer that knowledge is power, unfortunately prostatic cancer can’t be prevented. However, the other two main phenomenons—prostatitis and benign enlargement—can be treated or even prevented.