The dog prostate gland lies within the pelvis just behind the bladder and directly below the rectum. Its function is to supply the fluid that transports sperm. Canines that have not been neutered are at the highest risk to have dog prostate gland problems as they get older. Neutered dogs are at a lower risk because the prostate either never develops or shrinks to a much smaller size depending on the dog's age at castration. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility for a neutered dog to develop prostate problems.
If at all, they usually will start to appear around the age of 6, but younger dogs that are intact but not sexually active can also show symptoms. Listed are three common dog prostate problems: enlargement, inflammation and cancer. They should be taken seriously for they, especially cancer, could lead to further problems, such as kidney failure in dogs. The longer it takes for any problems to be detected, the more unlikely that the prognosis will be good, so it's important to pay attention to warning signs.
Known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, this is the most common prostate ailment for non-neutered dogs. It is part of the normal aging process of dogs, usually occurring when 4 or 5 years old, and it is not cancerous. The prostate swells and presses against the rectum which causes discomfort for the animal. Untreated, enlargement can affect the dog's ability to both urinate and defecate.
Inflammation of the Prostrate
A dog urinary infection can be caused by bacteria getting into the urinary tract which in turn can cause inflammation. Bacterial infections may cause blood to be present in the urine which leads to discomfort during urination. The blood is likely to come after the urine.
Dog Prostate Cancer
Although relatively uncommon, dog prostate cancer can affect older dogs. It can strike neutered dogs as well, but it is not as likely. Prostate cancer in dogs can be life threatening due to the difficulty of removing the affected region by surgery. Radiation and chemotherapy can treat the disease, but on average, dogs only live six weeks after the treatment. It is difficult to treat, as well, because by the time of diagnosis it is usually advanced, possibly to other regions. The best ways to prevent this from happening to your dog are to neuter him early and to watch for warning signs.
Diagnosis and Warning Signs of Prostate Problems
In humans, markers useful for identifying prostate tissue such as prostate specific antigens (PSA) are used to diagnose prostate cancer. Dogs, however, do not produce PSA. Instead, dogs produce something known as canine prostate specific esterase
(CPSE). This makes it difficult to diagnose canine prostate cancer. In particular, it is difficult to determine whether the cancer originated in the prostate or the cancer occurred elsewhere in the body and metastasized to the prostate. Initial diagnosis of prostate cancer in dogs is done by using x-rays and abdominal ultrasound, and testing urine samples. If cancer is suspected, a biopsy of the rectal wall is necessary for a conclusive diagnosis. As can be the case, the visible symptoms of prostate problems in dogs may be similar to those of other ailments, but in general, watch out for these signs:
Not all prostate problems in dogs are terminal, and if you detect any symptoms early, they can be treated. Depending on the age of the dog and the extent of their problem, treatment might not prevent a shortened lifespan, so do your best to prevent any prostate problems by neutering your dog, maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle and watching for any warning signs.
- Frequent urination, blood following urination, or straining to urinate
- Bloody or pus-like discharge from the penis
- Arched back, stiff hind legs with shortened steps
Treatment for Prostate Cancer in Dogs:
Surgical resection of all cancerous tissue is the only way to cure prostate cancer. This is only possible if the cancer has not metastasized. If surgical removal is not possible, radiation and chemotherapy can be used to help minimize the adverse effects of the disease.
Surgical options include partial or complete prostatectomy (removal of part or all of the prostate gland). This procedure may or may not preserve the urethra, depending upon its involvement. The urethra is the anatomical tubular passageway between the bladder and the outside world, through which urine is excreted. In male dogs, the urethra also is the passageway for discharge of reproductive secretions. If the urethra is severed or removed, a cystostomy tube must be placed so that the dog can urinate. Because prostate cancer is so highly metastatic, most veterinarians recommend chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy as adjuncts to surgery.
“Palliative” means providing relief. Palliative therapeutic options are available for dogs whose prostate cancer has spread, as well as for dogs with local infiltration of cancerous tissue that for whatever reason is not suitable for surgical removal. The primary goals of palliative treatment for prostate cancer are to relieve pain and to preserve the patency (openness) of the patient’s urethra.
One form of palliative therapy is chemotherapy – which is the use of drugs to treat disease. Chemotherapy has proven to be effective in treating many types of cancer in dogs. It is, however, expensive and may only be offered by veterinary oncologists in specialized treatment centers and veterinary teaching hospitals that are not easily accessible to all owners.
Another form of palliative therapy is the use of radiation, either in addition to or instead of chemotherapy or surgery. Radiation usually is administered in small doses over several weeks. Prognosis :
Canine prostate cancer is extremely aggressive. Even after treatment, affected dogs should be monitored regularly by a veterinarian for signs of metastasis. Unfortunately, because this disease is so prone to spreading both locally and afar, dogs with clinical signs caused by prostate cancer have a guarded to grave prognosis. Medical management may help to prolong a dog’s quality of life. However, euthanasia is a realistic consideration for owners of dogs with prostate cancer, especially once it has metastasized. Only a veterinarian, in consultation with the owner, can determine the best course of treatment for these dogs. Prevention :
Unless a dog owner has firm plans to use this animal in a formal breeding program, the best prevention strategy for prostate problems is surgery (castration).
The risk of a routine surgery is very low, and it would not be considered an endangerment to health to make this decision on a dog's behalf. It is often helpful to review information, and discuss the decision further with the health care team before making the final decision.
The potential devastation from possible future prostate problems would be generally viewed as a much more worrisome scenario than a sterile surgical procedure performed in a modern veterinary practice by an experienced veterinary surgeon and their support team.
The surgery itself is not a long one. The average procedure would take 10-20 minutes, and complications are rare. With proper post-operative rest and care, the chance of a problem is very low. Most practices will see the dog back for a "post-op" check in 7-10 days, and during that early healing phase, they are especially willing and able to address any questions or concerns that might arise.
Natural Remedies for a Lethargic Dog :
As lethargy is a symptom, it is necessary to first pinpoint the exact underlying root problem that is making the dog lethargic. By identifying and tackling the root problem, the symptom (lethargy) will go away. In the meantime, however, there are several things that we can do to give our lethargic dog an energy boost. Herbs:
Tonic herbs are effective in giving a lethargic dog a boost of energy. In this regard, Siberian ginseng is perhaps one of the most effective energy-boosting herbs. It has been used in Asia for years as an herbal tonic for people. Pets can also benefit from this herb, especially those who are weak, fatigued, or recovering from an illness or surgery. Rosemary is another tonic herb that is especially good for aging dogs. It helps prevent senility and is also an antioxidant and energizer.
Vitamin B complex
: B vitamins are crucial for producing energy. Good sources of B vitamins include meat, milk, veggies, and fruits. Nutritional yeast and blue-green algae are also rich in B vitamins. Digestive Enzymes:
If your dog is lethargic and is also showing signs of poor digestion or malnutrition, try giving him digestive enzymes as a supplement to improve his digestion and nutrient absorption.
Text Book of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2010) - Stephen J. Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM and Edward C. Feldman, DVM, DACVIM