Prostate Problems in Male Dogs

Prostate Problems in Male Dogs: Diagnosis and Treatment

Prostate problems in male dogs are conditions affecting the prostate gland. The prostate gland is a small accessory or secondary sex gland. 

Common prostate problems include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), squamous metaplasia, cystic hyperplasia, prostatitis, paraprostatic cysts, prostatic abscess, atrophy, and cancer. 

The prostate gland in male dogs depends on testosterone, which is why dog prostatitis and BPH are prevalent in uncastrated dogs.

Prostate problems are diagnosed with a rectal exam, imaging techniques like ultrasounds and X-rays, and microscopic analysis of urine and prostate fluid samples. 

The treatment depends on the prostate issues. A dog prostate infection is treated with a course of antibiotics, BPH warrants neutering, and prostatic cancer is managed with surgery and chemotherapy or radiation. 

The prognosis varies from good for prostatitis dogs to poor for prostatic cancer. Early neutering is the best way to eliminate or reduce the risk of prostate problems in male dogs. 

What is the prostate gland in male dogs?

The prostate gland in male dogs is the only accessory or secondary sex gland. The prostate adds the majority of fluid that comprises semen, helping with sperm transport. 

The prostate gland is small and oval, wrapped around the urethra at the neck of the bladder. Its shape and size vary among breeds. The main male hormone, testosterone, controls the prostate's functions. 

Neutering eliminates testosterone production, causing the prostate gland to shrink in weeks, reducing the risk of prostate problems. 

The number one problem, an enlarged prostate in dogs, is exclusive to intact or uncastrated males. Neutering minimizes the risk of other prostate conditions, like prostatitis, metaplasia, and cysts. 

How does the prostate gland function in male dogs?

The prostate gland functions in male dogs under the control of testosterone. The gland consists of 15 lobules with glandular secretory tissue. The secretory tissue produces prostatic fluid.

The prostatic fluid aids sperm viability and helps transport sperm during ejaculation. The fluid is stored in the prostate gland and ejected into the urethra with the help of the smooth muscles lining its capsule at the time of ejaculation.

Prostatic fluid comprises over 90% of the total ejaculate volume. Ejaculation in dogs has three fractions, and prostatic fluid is in the first and third fractions. 

What are the main causes of prostate problems in male dogs?

The main causes of prostate problems in male dogs are listed below. 

  • Genetics: Various prostate problems in dogs show potent breed-specific tendencies, demonstrating the role of genetics in the development of prostate conditions. 
  • Age: Age is a significant risk factor for the occurrence of prostate disorders, with most of the conditions occurring in older dogs. 
  • Hormones: Hormones are responsible for prostate problems, which is why intact dogs are more prone to prostate issues than neutered dogs. 
  • Infections: Bacterial infections trigger prostate infections, especially in dogs with compromised immune systems and enlarged prostate glands. 

Can Prostate Problems Lead to Testicular Cancer in Dogs?

No, prostate problems cannot lead to testicular cancer in dogs. Testicular cancer does cause prostate problems in some cases. 

For example, testicular Setoli cell tumors trigger a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland called squamous metaplasia. 

Prostate cancer in dogs occasionally results in metastatic cancer spread in the testicles. Dogs with prostate cancer must be monitored for painless scrotal lumps. 

The exact causes of primary testicular cancer in dogs are unknown, but age and breed are believed to be predisposing factors. 

What are some common prostate issues in male dogs?

The most common prostate issues in male dogs are listed below. 

  • Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate caused by hypertrophy (increase in epithelial cell volume) and hyperplasia (increase in epithelial cell number). BPH is one of the most common prostate issues in dogs, diagnosed in almost every intact male, according to a study, “A Retrospective Study of Canine Prostatic Diseases from 2002 to 2009 at the Alfort Veterinary College in France,” published in Theriogenology in 2016. 
  • Squamous Metaplasia: Squamous metaplasia is a benign enlargement associated with the increased female hormone estrogen. The most common cause of high estrogen levels in male dogs is testicular Sertoli cell tumor. Squamous metaplasia is not a pre-neoplastic change of the prostate but increases the risk of cysts and abscesses. 
  • Cystic Hyperplasia: Prostatic cystic hyperplasia is a condition that develops secondary to benign prostatic hyperplasia and squamous metaplasia. Cystic hyperplasia occurs when the ducts that transfer prostatic secretions from the gland into the urethra become blocked. The result is the formation of numerous fluid-filled cavities within the prostate. 
  • Prostatitis: Prostatitis is a bacterial infection of the prostate caused by Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Mycoplasma spp. Bacteria enter the prostate gland through the urethra or come from the kidneys or urinary bladder. Acute prostatitis occurs in all dogs, while chronic prostatitis is widespread in dogs with recurrent urinary tract infections and benign prostatic hyperplasia. 
  • Paraprostatic Cysts: Paraprostatic cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form adjacent to the dog’s prostate gland. Cysts are abnormal tissues and a remnant of the paramesonephric duct during embryonic development. Paraprostatic cysts form after the puppy is born but are asymptomatic until the dog matures. The cysts resemble nodular structures, grow up to several inches in diameter, and have capsules prone to mineralization or ossification. 
  • Prostatic Abscess: A prostate abscess is a consequence of bacterial prostatitis or cystic hyperplasia. Abscesses develop when trapped bacteria in the prostate gland multiply uncontrollably. Abscesses of the prostate gland are challenging to treat because few antibiotics penetrate the gland. 
  • Prostatic Atrophy: Prostatic atrophy occurs secondary to neutering (hormonal atrophy) or chronic inflammation (proliferative inflammatory atrophy or PIA). The castration-associated shrinkage of the prostate gland is harmless, but the inflammatory type is a pre-stage for neoplastic changes and cancer. 
  • Prostatic Cancer: Prostatic cancer is rare in dogs. The most common type, carcinoma, is hormone-independent and highly aggressive in terms of metastasizing, affecting local lymph nodes, pelvic muscles, vertebrae, urethra, bladder, spleen, liver, heart, and lungs. Prostatic carcinoma is advanced by the time of diagnosis in most cases.

What do Prostate Problems look like in Male Dogs?

Prostate problems in male dogs look like difficulty urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine, straining to defecate, and visible discomfort or pain in the abdomen or back. The enlarged prostate in dogs pictures below illustrate the condition.

What are the symptoms of prostate problems in male dogs?

The symptoms of prostate problems in male dogs are listed below. 

  • Tenesmus: Tenesmus is the term for troubled defecating, and it is reported in dogs with prostate problems. 
  • Dyschezia: Dyschezia means painful defecation, which occurs due to the prostate gland’s pressure on the colon. 
  • Ribbon-Like Stool: The dog’s enlarged prostate pressures the colon, resulting in the production of ribbon-like stool. 
  • Stranguria: Dogs with prostate problems have trouble peeing or adopting a peeing stance without producing urine, which is medically called stranguria.  
  • Bloody Urine: Dogs with prostate problems have blood in the urine, but the signs are unspecific. 
  • Abdominal Pain: Dog prostate infection symptoms are painful in some cases and make the dog cry or vocalize when their stomach is touched. 
  • Hind Leg Issues: Dogs with significantly enlarged prostate and cancer develop hind leg weakness or lameness.  

Can prostate issues in male dogs lead to serious health complications?

Yes, prostate issues in male dogs can lead to serious health complications. Certain conditions of the prostate affect the dog’s fertility, and others trigger complications. 

Prostatic disorders significantly affect both the reproductive system and the overall health of canine patients, reports a study, “Comparative Evaluation of Diagnostic Methods for Subclinical Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in Intact Breeding Male Dogs,” published in Animals in 2024. 

A diseased prostate gland is susceptible to bacterial infections, which, unless treated, lead to prostatitis, prostatic cysts, and abscesses. 

BPH, prostatic cysts, and neoplasia increase the risk of perineal hernias in intact dogs, suggests a study “CT Imaging of Dogs with Perineal Hernia Reveals Large Prostates with Morphological and Spatial Abnormalities” published in Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound in 2022. 

Are prostate problems significant in Senior Dogs?

Yes, prostate problems are significant in senior dogs. Various prostatic conditions, such as BPH and adenocarcinoma, are prevalent in older dogs. 

For example, BPH develops in 80% of dogs over 6 and 95% of dogs over nine years old, according to a study, Development of Canine Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia with Age,” in Prostate in 1986. 

Prostatic disorders affect the dog’s quality of life. Untreated problems lead to complications, while many treatments are uncomfortable. 

Senior dogs with prostate disease need prompt veterinary attention to manage the symptoms and address the problem. 

Are certain breeds more prone to prostate issues?

Yes, certain breeds are more prone to prostate issues. Prostate conditions occur in dogs of all breeds, but certain conditions have breed predispositions. 

For example, benign prostatic hyperplasia is most common in middle to large-breed dogs. The disorder is prevalent in Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds. 

Prostatic cancer is frequently reported in Scottish Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Airedale Terriers, Norwegian Elkhounds, Dobermans, Bouvier des Flandres, Shetland Sheepdogs, Beagles, and German Shorthaired Pointers. 

Does age influence the development of prostate problems in male dogs?

Yes, age influences the development of prostate problems in male dogs. The most common prostate condition associated with older age is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 

BPH is a spontaneous and age-related disorder of intact male dogs, which occurs in more than 80% male dogs over five years of age, says a study, “Prostatic Disorders in the Dog,” published in Animal Reproduction Science in 2000. 

Rare cases of BPH are recorded in dogs less than two years old, according to a study published in Prostate in 1986, “Development of Canine Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia with Age.” 

Cancer is another prostate problem prevalent in older male dogs. The average age for prostate adenocarcinoma in dogs is between nine and ten. 

Are there any genetic factors linked to prostate problems in male dogs?

Yes, there are genetic factors linked to prostate problems in male dogs. The occurrence of prostate disorders in specific breeds indicates a genetic component. 

A gene mutation called BRAF was discovered in dogs with prostatic carcinoma. The mutation is rare in men with prostatic cancers, but it is widespread in dogs. 

A study, “Detection of BRAF Mutation in Canine Prostatic Diseases,” published in Tierarztl Prax Ausg K Kleintiere Heimtiere in 2019, suggests that the BRAF gene mutation occurs in over 61% of dogs with prostatic cancer

Can diet influence prostate health in male dogs?

Yes, diet influences prostate health in male dogs. Food rich in vitamins and antioxidants boosts the immune system, reducing the risk of prostate infections. Probiotics promote robust immunity by balancing the gut microbiome. 

Men who consume vegetarian diets are less likely to develop prostate cancer. Dogs are not suitable for vegetarian diets but are able to eat high-fiber foods. High-fiber foods support the absorption of fruit and vegetable-derived phytochemicals that combat cancer.  

How are prostate problems diagnosed in male dogs?

Prostate problems are diagnosed in male dogs through clinical examinations, tests, and procedures. 

The veterinarian starts by palpating the dog’s prostate through the abdominal wall or rectally to check for enlargement. Abdominal ultrasounds and X-rays confirm the enlargement. 

The next step is determining the underlying cause of the prostate problem. The procedures include making a culture of the dog’s urine, analyzing a urine sample under a microscope, and microscopic examination of prostatic fluid or tissue. 

Fine needle aspiration is the simplest way to collect prostate tissue cells, but the vet takes a tissue sample via biopsy if the results are not conclusive. 

What are the treatment options for prostate problems in male dogs?

The treatment options for prostate problems in male dogs are medications, surgery, chemo, and radiation. Commonly used medications are antibiotics, anti-hormone agents, and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). 

Antibiotics are the cornerstone for treating prostate infections. The veterinarian prescribes antibiotics that penetrate the prostate, such as enrofloxacin, clindamycin, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim-sulfonamides. 

Hormones include finasteride and megestrol acetate. The medications block the production of male hormone production or reduce their circulating levels for prostate infection in dogs

Non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like meloxicam and piroxicam are given to dogs with prostatic cancer to reduce inflammation and prolong the dog’s lifespan. 

Surgical treatment for enlarged prostate in dogs includes castration or draining and removing of cysts and abscesses. Chemotherapy and targeted radiation are used alone or with surgery in managing prostatic cancer. 

Can turmeric help with male dog prostate issues?

Yes, turmeric can help with male dog prostate issues. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancerous properties. 

Curcumin reduces androgen receptor expression in hormone-dependent cells, helping prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia. Its anti-inflammatory effect benefits dogs with prostatitis, and its antioxidant and anti-cancerous features benefit dogs with prostatic cancer. 

Turmeric for dogs is a homemade golden paste or commercially available pet-friendly supplement. 

Is CBD oil beneficial for dogs with prostate problems?

Yes, CBD oil is beneficial for dogs with prostate problems. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural hemp extract with proven health benefits. 

Cannabidiol has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help dogs with prostatic cancer. CBD has anti-cancer features that reduce tumor cell growth and spread while boosting the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation in combination with mainstream treatments. 

Consult the vet before adding CBD oil for dogs to the prostatic cancer treatment strategy. CBD is non-psychogenic and non-addictive. 

Can Prostate Problems Be Prevented?

No, prostate problems such as prostate cancer cannot be prevented. The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, and the condition is believed to occur due to genetic and environmental factors, making prevention challenging. 

Prostate cancer in dogs is not testosterone-dependent like it is in humans, meaning early castration does not eliminate the risk of neoplasia later in life.

A healthy lifestyle, including a nutritionally rich and balanced diet combined with regular physical exercise, is the best way to reduce the chances of prostate cancer in dogs.  

What surgical procedures address severe prostate issues in male dogs?

The surgical procedures that address severe prostate issues in male dogs include individualized surgery or a combination of other treatments. 

For example, peraprostatic cysts and prostatic abscesses are managed with surgeries. The goal of the surgery is to drain or remove the cyst or abscess. 

Another commonly performed surgery in dogs with prostate problems is castration or neutering. Castration permanently lowers the testosterone and estrogen levels in the body, treating BPH and squamous metaplasia. 

What preventative measures can reduce the risk of prostate problems in male dogs?

The preventative measures that can reduce the risk of prostate problems in male dogs include neutering at an early age. 

The prostate gland shrinks to a fraction of its size after neutering, minimizing the risk of various prostate conditions. 

Other preventative measures include a healthy diet and regular exercise. Dietary supplements, such as nettle root, cleavers, echinacea, kelp, lecithin, and vitamins C and E, are beneficial. 

Practice frequent routine veterinary checkups to monitor the dog’s health. Annual rectal exams are recommended for all intact male dogs after the age of six.  

What complications can arise from untreated prostate problems in male dogs?

The complications that can arise from untreated prostate problems in male dogs are listed below. 

  • Overactive Bladder: The constant pressure on the bladder causes overactivity, an involuntary bladder contraction, or urinary incontinence episode. 
  • Urinary Tract Infections: The urine retention caused by the prostate’s pressure on the bladder increases the risk of urinary tract infections. 
  • Kidney Problems: Urinary tract infections have a spreading tendency and, in some dogs, affect the kidneys. 
  • Sepsis: Rare cases of bacteria causing dog prostatitis spread into the bloodstream, causing septicemia, a fatal blood poisoning. 
  • Death: Prostate cancer has a poor prognosis even with treatment and causes death if left untreated. 

Can prostate issues affect a male dog's reproductive abilities?

Yes, prostate issues can affect a male dog’s reproductive abilities. The exact effect depends on the type of prostate condition. 

Dogs with BPH experience decreased libido, ejaculation problems, and reduced semen quality with sperm cell DNA fragmentation, according to a study “Serum Testosterone, Sperm Quality, Cytological, Physicochemical and Biochemical Characteristics of the Prostatic Fraction of Dogs with Prostatomegaly” published in Reproduction in Domestic Animals in 2017. 

Reduced sperm count and temporary or permanent fertility problems are visible in dogs with prostatic cancer. Cancer is treated with radiation or hormone therapy, which affects the male dog’s reproductive ability and semen quality.