What is Prostate Gland Enlargement?
As with any aging family member, in this case, one on four legs, there are some conditions that happen in elder years. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or prostate gland enlargement, is one of those conditions, and it happens to approximately 50 to 95 percent of all dogs. While initially small, as the dog ages, the prostate will increase in size towards the spine and possibly the rectum. Defecation and constipation are possible side effects, along with painful urination.The male reproductive systems essential component is the prostate gland, which produces a number of enzymes to best protect and balance out the key components production of seminal fluid. Hyperplasia, which is an abnormal growth in the number of cells in an organ, can and will effect the majority of male dogs prostate glands by the age of 9.
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Symptoms of Prostate Gland Enlargement in Dogs
While an enlarged prostate does not immediately lead to pain, an older dog will suffer from a lengthier time trying to urinate. Pet owners will usually notice a trickling of urine or the dog having difficulty with bowel movements. In the worst case scenarios, blood may be found in the urine.
TypesEnlarged prostates are commonly related to BPH, but there are six other possibilities for the enlargement:
- Squamous metaplasia
- Cystic hyperplasia
- Paraprostatic cysts
- Bacterial infection
- Prostatic abscess
- Prostatic cancer
Of the seven, four are benign (BPH, squamous metaplasia, cystic hyperplasia, bacterial infection); antibiotics often can't treat prostatic abscess; paraprostatic cysts rarely affects dogs until they start to age; and luckily prostatic cancer is a rare result of the enlargement.
Causes of Prostate Gland Enlargement in Dogs
Puppies are born with a certain amount of estrogen and testosterone, which are linked to the prostate that produces semen fluids.
While controversial among pet owners, not castrating a dog before the age of five or six is one of the most common causes of prostate problems, including testicular tumors and perianal tumors. Pet owners with castrated dogs may notice the dog as less rebellious while training, no couch and leg humping, less or no prowling for female dogs, and milder manners.
Some veterinarians suggest waiting until the dog is two or three years old when personality changes are less drastic.
Diagnosis of Prostate Gland Enlargement in Dogs
The veterinarian may start out the diagnosis process by trying to feel the prostate through the abdominal or rectal wall.
Common ways to diagnose BPH for further examination include:
- Blood work
- Fluid evaluation
- Rectal exam
- Urine culture
The veterinarian will also be looking for any signs of cancer, cysts or prostatitis (infection with inflammation before confirming that the dog indeed does have just BPH.
Because the prostate enlargement may be for a variety of reasons, the dog's urine will be examined under a microscope. From a urine sample, veterinarians will look at urine cells, along with cells from the prostatic fluid or the actual prostate.
The urine sample is collected from a urethral catheter, massaging the prostate until fluid is released, small bore needles or a large bore needle. The latter needle and ultrasounds are used for biopsies, but this process is usually only when the prostate is extremely enlarged.
Treatment of Prostate Gland Enlargement in Dogs
Veterinarians may recommend various herbs and other food sources in the beginning stages of BPH if the prostate gland is of a clinically normal size. These food suggestions, some of which may help to regulate estrogen metabolism, include:
- Diindolymethane (DIM)
- High lignin flax bulls
- Nettle extracts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin E
Neutering may also eliminate the enlarged prostate linked to the fluids in testosterone and estrogen. Outside of changing a dog's behavior and avoiding the risk of unwanted puppies, neutering may also get the prostate back to a normal size in approximately one month's time. Unfortunately, neutering dogs with prostatic cancer will more than likely not make a difference. Once it has reached the point of excess hormones, the cancer may spread to other parts of the dog's body.
However, veterinarians may be able to perform abdominal surgery to get rid of any paraprostatic cysts and prostatic abscesses. Antibiotic therapy is an option for bacterial infections.
Recovery of Prostate Gland Enlargement in Dogs
By day two or three, the dog may be feeling better after abdominal surgery. While exercise is restricted and a feeding tube could possibly be necessary for dogs with chronic diseases, the recovery time is guesstimated at two weeks. While excess fluids are commonly associated with an enlarged prostate, it is not uncommon for foreign objects to possibly be found while completing the surgery. If a foreign object is found in the stomach or intestines, it can be removed with a small incision.
Antibiotic therapy is a lengthier process to recover from, and may take as long as four weeks. Pet owners are encouraged to follow all necessary instructions for antibiotic prescriptions, including not giving the pet additional antibiotics without the veterinarian's permission.