Did you know prostate problems are common in dogs, especially middle-aged and seniors? Up to 10% of veterinary cases are related to prostatic diseases, so it’s essential for you as a pet owner, to be aware of this issue.
Various factors, such as infections or natural aging, can cause prostate problems in dogs. Infections can affect the entire gland and cause prostatitis, while aging can create difficulties when your dog tries to urinate or defecate. Understanding these different scenarios is essential to help you identify if your pet is experiencing any prostate-related issues.
This article will discuss the different types of prostate problems in dogs, their symptoms, causes, and how to diagnose and treat them. By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to keep your furry friend healthy and happy. Let’s dive in!
What is The Prostate?
The prostate is a gland that produces fluids found in semen. More precisely, these fluids are found in seminal plasma components, which are implicated in critical events of the reproductive processes in the dog. They contain zinc-binding proteins (ZnBPs) which are excellent markers for canine sperm fertility. Therefore, it is important for the reproductive system of the male dog.
It is located behind the bladder, below the rectum and the urethra passes through it. It lives inside the pelvis. Furthermore, the prostate communicates with the urethra through many openings where the seminal plasma is secreted. Therefore, they are connected to fulfill the function of the gland effectively.
What Are Prostate Problems in Dogs?
A prostate problem most of the time is the enlargement of the gland in middle-aged and senior dogs. It can start as soon as your pet is 5 years old and it affects all breeds alike. As we have seen before, it can occur under different scenarios, but the most common reason is the increase in the size of epithelial cells of the prostate and their number.
It reaches an abnormal size that affects the quality of life of your dog because it creates problems with normal urination and defecation. Furthermore, it can cause problems at the hour of walking, provoke discomfort and reduce your pet’s activity levels.
Furthermore, here are some other consequences of prostate issues:
- Urinary incontinence
- Lack of appetite
Now that you have a clear idea of what prostate problems are and how they can affect the life of your pet, it is time to explain the four main types of prostate issues in dogs.
Male dogs affected by prostatic problems may find it difficult or even impossible to breed a female dog in heat.
Types of Prostate Problems in Dogs
Most owners are surprised to know that prostate problems have a high incidence rate in dogs, but it is the reality. There are four types that register the majority of prostatic issues.
1. Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy or Hyperplasia (BPH)
It is the abnormal enlargement of the prostate, a common issue amongst old dogs. It is one of the most common prostatic problems because it affects 95% of dogs when they age nine. Hence, it is the most common prostatic problem in dogs. It is caused by the growth of the number of cells in the prostate, and as it is benign, your pet will not suffer pain, and in consequence, most of the time dogs do not show any symptoms. Although, the most common indicator of BPH is blood in the urine and straining to urinate.
Prostatitis is the infection or inflammation of the prostate and it is more prevalent in non-neutered male dogs. It increases the vascularization and volume of the gland, and furthermore, it also causes alterations in the tissue. According to the study by Teske et al, 19.3% of dogs that experienced prostate problems proved positive for prostatitis. It can be life-threatening (when it evolves from acute to chronic and infects the abdomen causing peritonitis). Therefore, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as you detect the symptoms because it can have many causes like bacteria, parasites, or some types of cancer.
3. Prostate Cancer
From all the prostate problems in dogs, cancer is the most dangerous threat because it has a high rate of metastasis that can spread to other organs quickly, especially the bones, lymph nodes, and lungs. It can be a benign tumor or it can be malign (Adenocarcinoma).
Similar to prostatitis, it is more common amongst non-neutered male dogs, especially when they pass the 8-year old mark. Although, some studies consider neutering as a risk factor for canine prostate cancer. Because the removal of the glands causes a hormonal imbalance, it is believed to be the reason.
4. Paraprostatic Cysts
Paraprostatic cysts lie next to the prostate and connect to the gland using a stalk. They are usually large, and their recurrence is prevalent amongst non-neutered dogs. They are caused by the same reasons as prostatic cysts due to the blockage of ducts in the prostate gland. It is one of the dogs’ most serious prostate problems because it requires surgery, drainage, and castration.
Symptoms of Prostate Problems
Prostate problems in dogs can be tricky to diagnose because they often don’t show any symptoms. However, there are some signs to watch out for. If your dog has trouble urinating or defecating and seems to be in pain, it might have prostatitis (prostate inflammation). Ribbon-shaped stools are another indicator that something is wrong.
Straining and yelping can indicate a prostate enlargement, which infections, cysts, or tumors can cause. Constipation and gastrointestinal issues can also be a sign of cysts. If you notice a bloody discharge or a lack of appetite, it might be prostatitis or prostate cancer. Fever and abdominal pain can also indicate an infection or cysts.
If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Pain during and trouble urinating and defecation
If your dog experiences pain when urinating or defecating, it might be a case of prostatitis or inflammation. Although other conditions could trigger it (a tumor, for instance), it usually results from an infection.
Ribbon Shaped Stools
Because the enlargement of the prostate will push up on the rectum, your dog might defecate ribbon-shaped stools; therefore, they are a strong indicator that something abnormal is happening.
Yelping and straining
Straining and yelping are strong indicators of prostate enlargement. An infection (prostatitis), paraprostatic cysts (when they become too large) or a tumor can cause it.
Constipation and Gastrointestinal Issues
Constipation is a strong sign of paraprostatic cysts because when they become too large, they start to put tons of pressure on the urethra, which in consequence, displaces the colon and rectum. Cysts might be the issue if it is accompanied by abdominal pain and difficulties when urinating and defecating. In addition, if you observe flattened stools, then you can confirm (almost) that it is a case of enlarged cysts.
If you have observed that your dog has a bloody discharge and pain and discomfort when urinating, it might be a case of prostatitis. Also, watch out for poor urine stream and discolored urine.
General signs of pain
When the prostate enlarges, it creates pressure against different organs and body parts, resulting in pain. A mild case of prostatic hypoplasia will not generate pain; however, when it comes to infection, large cysts or tumors, it is a different case.
Another sign that your dog is experiencing prostate problems is when it has troubles to walk. Stiffness and paresis are the most common signs.
Lethargy or depression
If you have noticed that the mood of your dog has declined and that its energy levels have decreased, then it is another sign that in correlation with other symptoms, can be a sign of prostate enlargement. More precisely, it can indicate prostatitis, or alternatively, the presence of large cysts. In some cases, it can be an indicator of cancer.
Lack of appetite
If you have observed that the appetite of your dog has decrease significantly, along with other indicators like bloody discharge and difficulties for urinating, then it might be a case of prostatitis. It can also be a sign of prostate cancer.
Fever is one of the most common signs that an infection is attacking your dog, and when you observe other of the symptoms cited in this list, you can deduce that it might be a case of prostatitis. However, it can also indicate a case of paraprostatic cysts, especially when accompanied by abdominal pain.
Pain in the abdomen
It is usually caused by large cysts because when they become too big, they apply abnormal pressure on the urethra, affecting the rectum and colon, which derives in abdominal pain.
Diagnosis of Prostate Problems in Dogs
Your veterinarian will use different methods for the diagnosis of your dog:
- Rectum Exam. The veterinarian will insert a gloved finger into your dog’s rectum to examine the prostate to determine any abnormality and if your pet feels pain.
- Urine Sample. It is the most commonly used test to determine if the prostate of your dog is infected (prostatitis)
- Ultrasound. If your vet has the equipment, then ultrasound is a viable option. Furthermore, it can also be used as a non-invasive treatment for cysts and prostatic abscesses
- X-Rays. The vet may consider it necessary to measure the size of the prostate and analyze the surrounding structures, to arrive at a more precise diagnosis
Therefore, as soon as you notice the symptoms on your dog, then you need to visit your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis, so your pet can begin the treatment.
Causes of Prostatitis in Dogs
As you have seen, prostatitis is one of the most common and serious problems that your dog can face. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the possible causes.
Although it is not a cause by default, it is a risk factor, because dogs between the ages of 7 to 11 are more vulnerable to prostatitis.
Bacteria Spreading from other Parts of the Body
If your dog has an infection in other parts of its body – for instance, a wound – then it can easily spread to other parts of the body, including the prostate. Keep in mind that the infection can be bacterial, viral or parasitic.
Bacteria Moving Up from the Urinary Passage
It is recurrent if your dog has a urinary tract infection because it enables bacteria to move up from the urinary passage and reach the prostate, where they can unchain an infection. Furthermore, suppose your dog develops urinary tract infections (UTIs) frequently. In that case, it might be a sign of chronic prostatitis because it indicates that the infection compromises several organs and glands.
Weak Immune System
When your dog’s immune system is compromised, it makes it more vulnerable to infections, including prostatitis. There are certain micro-organisms that cause the majority of prostate infection causes, and they are:
- Mycoplasma spp
- Escherichia coli
Furthermore, if the immune system is faulty, an acute infection can rapidly evolve into chronic. Therefore, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog may require some vitamins or supplements.
Prevention of Prostate Problems
You can prevent your dog from getting prostate issues by following certain methods. Here you will find the most effective ones.
It is a very hard and sensitive choice, but according to veterinarians, it is the most effective way to avoid prostate problems. However, you must do it while your dog is still in puberty. Although, certain studies put this statement into doubt, like this one where they discuss how non-testicular androgens strongly influence your dog’s prostate.
As we have seen, issues like prostatitis can be caused by other problems like wounds and UTIs. Therefore, another prevention measure is to check your dog regularly with the help of a veterinarian to combat infections early.
It is a must for your dog in any case, but it also helps to prevent prostate problems like prostatitis and to combat inflammation. Furthermore, it will prevent your pet from becoming overweight, another risk factor.
You must ensure your dog drinks enough water to keep his urinary tract clean and his bladder flushed out. If your dog gets dehydrated, it will be more vulnerable to urinary tract infections, which, as we have seen, can result in prostatitis.
Cleaning the private parts of your dog can also reduce the danger of infections, and in consequence, it will protect your pet from prostate issues. You can do it while bathing your dog using a washcloth.
Treatment for Enlarged Prostate
As a reminder, you should not attempt to treat prostate problems completely on your own because they are delicate issues that can menace the life of your pet. You should always consult with your veterinarian because the treatment will vary depending on the cause of the inflammation.
Depending on the severity of the problem, your veterinarian might opt for surgery. For example, in the case of cysts, your vet will use it to drain them. Sometimes, your vet may also suggest neutering your pet to reduce hormone levels. The ASPCA recommends it; however, we have also given you reasons to doubt it. Therefore, it must be a very well thought decision. You must do it patiently.
If your dog has a case of prostatitis, then the best treatment is antibiotics. Your veterinarian will decide the treatment’s length, but it usually takes 6 to 8 weeks depending on the severity of the infection. The most commonly used antibiotics are:
They are strong enough to penetrate the prostate; therefore, you should never administer them yourself.
An increasingly popular alternative to surgery for treating paraprostatic cysts is ultrasound drainage. It is still a novelty, but it has already shown excellent results, and therefore, it is a valid treatment for this type of prostatic disease.
Radiation and Chemotherapy
In the case of prostate cancer, radiation and chemotherapy are the default treatments in order to reduce pain and discomfort, as well as to mitigate the advance of the disease. The success rate increases if your dog begins the treatment in the early stages.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are a common treatment against prostatic cancer (study by Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences) because they have shown anti-cancer properties. The most commonly used drugs are:
They can be used as a stand-alone treatment or with chemotherapy and radiation.
Other Treatments for Prostate Cancer
Because cancer is such a complex problem, the veterinarian may also opt for alternative treatments like:
- Laser ablation
- Palliative-intent radiation
- Stereotactic Radiation Therapy (SRT)
These treatments are especially effective when the tumors are also present in the urinary tract.
Apart from the official and clinical treatments, you can supplement them with holistic choices like:
- Cleavers. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties for the urinary tract and health-boosting action on the glands. Glycerin tincture is the most common method of application (0.5-1.0 milliliter per 50 pounds)
- Quercetin. This flavonoid can be found in broccoli, fresh garlic, apples, and dark berries. It has shown properties that protect the prostate against cancer
- Saw Palmetto. It is worth adding it to the treatment of your dog because it has shown to reduce tumor cell growth in animals
Now that you have the complete guide about prostate dog problems, you can diagnose your dog, identify the causes and choose the ideal treatment. Furthermore, you can also apply preventive measures to keep your dog from such issues.