The Prostate gland is only present in males and sits internally surrounding the urethra at the neck of the urinary bladder. Its job is to make the bulk of semen which carries sperm during ejaculation and has antibacterial properties too.
There are a number of conditions that can affect the prostate. By far the commonest is benign prostate hyperplasia which causes enlargement of the gland. Nearly all entire (uncastrated) dogs over the age of 5 years will have some degree of prostate enlargement but up to 80% will have prostatic hyperplasia; to the extent that it could be bothering the dog.There are a few other conditions that can also affect the prostate.
BENIGN HYPERPLASIA can be present without symptoms. We recommend examinations for all older pets at least annually and we can often detect prostate disease during such checks. If the prostate is enlarged it can cause symptoms like difficulty passing faeces with changes of faecal shape (because the enlarged prostate presses on the rectum internally), and pain (which may show as hindleg stiffness or lameness). The Xray shows an enlarged prostate gland (the large white shape at the back of the abdomen behind the black urinary bladder into which we have injected air).
We can diagnose prostate enlargement by feeling it (per rectum or through the abdominal wall. There is also a simple, highly sensitive and specific blood test for benign hyperplasia where we measure CPSE (Canine Prostate Specific Esterase). This is a bit like measuring PSA in humans to detect cancer. Sometimes we will want to image the prostate (ultrasound or xrays) to help make a diagnosis of benign hyperplasia.
The treatment of choice is castration as prostatic hyperplasia is dependant on testosterone to develop. After castration the prostate will shrink by 50% in 3 weeks and 70% in 9 weeks. We can also use a tablet called YPOZANE every 6 months or so which prevents testosterone affecting the prostate.
If you would like your dog’s prostate gland checked make an appointment to see the Veterinary Surgeon or ask for a CPSE blood test when you come for an examination.
Other conditions affecting the prostate include:
PROSTATITIS – a painful infection of the prostate gland where your dog can be dull, feverish, straining to urinate and defecate, with blood in the urine.
PROSTATIC CYSTS – form in the gland and sometimes these can also get infected, burst and lead to peritonitis (PROSTATIC ABSCESS)
PARAPROSTATIC CYSTS can form adjacent to the prostate and we treat these surgically.
PROSTATIC METAPLASIA – is a condition we sometimes see, associated with testicular tumours producing female sex hormones.
PROSTATE CANCER (Carcinoma, lymphoma or haemangiosarcoma) can occur. The prognosis is usually poor but we can treat palliatively with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and other medications.
To diagnose each of these conditions we usually only need to image (Scan / X-Ray) under sedation and sometimes take ultrasound guided needle aspirates or small biopsies. Sometimes we can get what we need just by passing a catheter and sucking with a syringe.