November is a time of year to raise awareness for men’s health, and we must not forget our furry friends! Our dogs can also suffer from specific health issues associated with being male, one of these being prostate disorders.
WHAT IS THE CANINE PROSTATE?
The prostate is a small gland found at the neck of the bladder in male dogs. It is an essential part of the male reproductive system and is responsible for producing some of the fluids found in semen needed to protect sperm. Unfortunately, male dogs can suffer from a range of prostate disorders, some of which are incredibly common – especially in entire (non-castrated) dogs.
Below are some of the basics to identifying and understanding prostatic disease in dogs.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF PROSTATIC DISORDERS IN DOGS?
There are a range of disorders which can affect the prostate – some are ‘acute’ and so will have a rapid onset of clinical signs, while others are more chronic and one may only see a slow progression of signs appearing over months to years. All of these conditions however produce a similar range of clinical signs, which you can look out for at home:
- Difficulty defecating or urinating
- Thin ribbon-like faeces
- Blood or pus present in the urine or discharging from the penis
- Pain when defecating or urinating – your dog may vocalise or jump around and look at or lick his back end
- A stiff gait in their hind limbs
- Vomiting, not eating, losing weight or becoming lethargic
- Repeated urinary tract infections – signs of which are similar to those above, but may also include incontinence or more frequent urination
WHAT DISEASES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE CANINE PROSTATE?
BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERPLASIA (BPH)
As the name suggests this is a non-cancerous (benign) enlargement of the prostate. It is very commonly seen in entire male dogs as it is associated with the hormones released from the testicles. It can be treated very effectively with castration, and signs should begin to improve within a few weeks. If the dog is required for breeding or is too unwell to undergo surgery there are medical alternatives which can be used, but the treatment of choice by most veterinarians will be castration. Another similar benign enlargement of the prostate also under hormonal influence is called squamous cell metaplasia – it is most commonly caused by an oestrogen producing tumour in the testicles and is also treated by castration.