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Prostatitis in Dogs

prostatitis in dogs

What is Prostatitis in Dogs?

Prostatitis is a disease that impacts a dog’s prostate gland. It includes infections and inflammations affecting this gland. Male dogs are the only ones with a prostate, so they are the only ones at risk for prostatitis. The prostate’s primary purpose is to create fluid that is added to the dog’s semen, and it’s connected to the bladder and the urethra.

Causes of prostatitis in dogs

Prostatitis itself is not a single disease. It indicates that a dog’s prostate is abnormally large or otherwise infected. There are a number of conditions that have prostatitis as a symptom, according to the Reproduction in Domestic Animals Journal, including:

  • Bacterial infection or abscess: Bacteria has several paths to reach the prostate in dogs and can result in infections that swell the prostate. In some cases, this bacteria makes it into the ducts connected to the prostate and create an abscess.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia: This condition, also called BPH, is triggered by a male dog’s testosterone and is the most frequent cause of enlarged prostates. It’s not cancerous.
  • Squamous metaplasia: This is another non-cancerous prostate enlargement that’s associated with too much estrogen.
  • Prostate cancer: It’s rare for dogs to get prostate cancer, but it can happen. These cases are typically associated with hormones throughout the reproductive system.
  • Prostate cysts: Cysts may form in the ducts of the prostate, which prevents the prostate’s bodily fluid from moving out of this gland. Typically, this condition occurs alongside other prostate problems, rather than on its own.

Signs and Symptoms of Prostatitis in Dogs

One of the most common signs of prostatitis is difficulties with urination. The prostate gets bigger due to an infection, which puts pressure on the urethra. The flow of urine and other bodily fluids is decreased, or they could be blocked completely.

When your dog tries to pee, it may take much longer to empty the bladder and the stream will be weaker than normal. Your furry friend may strain to go to the bathroom or spend a lot of time circling around before making another attempt.

An enlarged prostate also affects your dog’s ability to defecate. The colon is located near the prostate, so prostatitis can also stop feces from traveling through the system at its normal rate. The symptom associated with this prostatitis complication is bowel movements that take longer, with smaller size stool. Housebroken dogs may eliminate inappropriately inside or show other abnormal bathroom behaviors. Some dogs end up with blood in their urine as a result of prostate problems, although this symptom applies to a wide range of conditions.

For chronic canine sufferers of prostatitis, the Merck Veterinary Manual indicates that the most common sign presents as a urinary tract infection that frequently recurs. What might seem like a simple UTI could be an indication of a more serious condition.

Diagnosing the Underlying Cause of Prostatitis in Dogs

The first diagnostic test your veterinarian does for prostatitis is a physical exam of the prostate. If the prostate is enlarged, your vet may be able to feel it through the abdomen or the rectum. If this test is inconclusive or the veterinarian wants to know exactly how large the prostate is, an x-ray, ultrasound, or both may be ordered.

Since there are so many conditions that have prostatitis as a symptom, the veterinarian needs to narrow this down. A urinalysis gives them a close look at the cells in the dog’s urine, and the fluid from the prostate is collected with a catheter for testing. A procedure called fine needle aspiration allows the veterinarian to get cells directly from the prostate. If prostate cancer is a possible diagnosis, a biopsy is ordered to look for cancerous cells.

Treatment Options for Prostatitis in Dogs

The treatment plan varies based on the cause of prostatitis. For bacterial infections, a long-term course of antibiotics can clear up the prostate problems and return your dog to great health. If an abscess has formed, your dog may need to undergo surgery to have them removed from the prostate. The primary reason that it takes long-term antibiotic treatment to resolve many bacterial causes of prostatitis is due to the difficulty of moving antibiotics into the prostate. The veterinarian needs to have highly effective medication that’s capable of infiltrating this gland and killing the bacteria that is causing the problem.

Many of the most common causes of enlarged dog prostates are associated with the hormone levels in unneutered dogs. After neutering, the hormone levels adjust and can decrease or eliminate the impact they have on the prostate. If the prostate is still enlarged post-neuter, your dog may need additional treatment with hormone therapy.

Prostate cancer in dogs may be treated through a neuter surgery to address excess hormones, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Part of the treatment plan for prostatitis caused by cancer may include supportive care. Unfortunately, dogs with prostate cancer have a poor prognosis.

The causes of prostatitis can be tricky to pinpoint, but it puts you on the path to helping your canine companion feel much better. Your veterinarian will work closely with your dog and set them up with a treatment plan that resolves their condition or provides ongoing management of the prostate issue. Since so many prostate problems are tied to the hormones that male dogs have, a simple neuter may be all they need to get back to feeling their best.

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