Prostatic disease in Dogs & Cats
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a small gland located near the neck of the urinary bladder, it has two symmetrical lobes. The purpose of the prostate is to produce and store the fluids found in semen. The urethra (the tube connecting the urinary bladder to the outside world) passes through the prostate.
What are the clinical signs of prostatic disease?
- Straining to urinate or defecate (pass faeces)
- Blood in the urine
- Changes to the shape of faeces
What disease can affect the prostate?
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) - A non-cancerous enlargement of the gland and is associated with testosterone (male sex hormone).
- Cystic benign prostatic hyperplasia - This comprises of numerous fluid filled cavities within the prostate and usually secondary to BPH.
- Paraprostatic cysts - fluid filled cysts develop adjacent to the prostate gland and are abnormal tissue remnants from early embryo development.
- Infectious prostatitis - occurs secondary to colonisation of the normal sterile prostatic tissue by an micro-organism (e.g. bacteria) travelling from the the kidneys, bladder or urethra. Infection of the prostate can develop into painful abscesses.
- Prostatic neoplasm (cancer) - the least common of all the above and usually affects older dogs.
How can prostatic disease be diagnosed?
A consultation with the veterinarian comprising of a thorough history and physical exam including a rectal exam (if possible) can usually determine if the prostate gland is implicated. Further tests may include the following below:
- Urinalysis (urine test) - microscopic examination of the cells in the urine and possible culture of the animals urine to determine if there truly is an bacterial infection.
- Abdominal ultrasound - to visualise the prostate gland in terms of texture and size and check the rest of the urinary system (kidneys and bladder).
- A microscopic examination of the prostatic fluid for cells.
- Sampling of the prostate tissue - fine needle aspiration or a biopsy.
A urine sample can be collected by free flow, passing a urinary catheter or placing a needle through the abdominal wall into the bladder or guided with an ultrasound. In order to examine the prostatic fluid it has to be ‘Milked’ out and may require the animal to be sedated or undergo a short general anaesthetic.
How is prostatic disease treated?
Treatment is aimed at identifying the underlying disease processes through diagnostic tests.
- Primary or secondary bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics and can have a prolonged course as it is difficult for antibiotics to penetrate into the prostate gland.
- Diseases which are associated with hormone levels can be managed with castration/desexing mostly or with certain medications or hormone replacments.
- Paraprostatic cysts and abscesses require abdominal surgery to drain and remove the affected prostate gland.
- Prostatic cancer has a guarded prognosis, depending if any spread to other organs has occurred. There is chemotherapy, surgery and some cancers may benefit from castration/desexing. With the advancements in the treatment of human prostate cancer it is expected that new treatments and surgeries will come to the veterinary field.
Vets4Pets would like to consider being aware for any of the clinical signs as explained earlier in the article, especially be mindful for any older entire (not desexed) male dog or cat. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to ask one of our veterinarians.