The Vizsla Newzsletter (Aug / Sept 1998)
Canine Prostate Disease

By Marion Coffman
Diseases of the Prostate are common in dogs and, unfortunately, may be far advanced before you notice the signs. Sometimes your dog only seems to be suffering from some general disease or infection, especially as all the signs may be attributed to his getting old.

Stimulated be testosterone from the testes, the Prostate gland supplies fluid for the maintenance and transport of sperm. In neutered dogs the Prostate is small and inactive due to a lack of testosterone, but in intact dogs the Prostate remains active and usually enlarges gradually through the dog's lifetime. Prostatic enlargement is a slow development, decline in condition, weight loss, difficulty in defecating, stiffness of joints, and lameness. Many of these signs are the same as those of kidney infection. Because the Prostate secretes fluid into the urethra, which may then mix urine with blood, prostatic infections are often mis-diagnosed as urinary infections.

Treatment of prostatic enlargements depend on the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, and an x-ray will determine the size of the gland. Your vet may choose to give small amounts of estrogen to suppress the growth of prostatic tissue and enlargement, but for most dogs castration provides almost instant relief. The Prostate gland shrinks rapidly from them on.

Resistance to infection decreases as the prostate ages, thus predisposing to bacterial infections. Infections are difficult to diagnose because the prostate is less accessible than other areas of the body, but the most common cause of infection is a recurrent bladder and kidney infection. The signs are much the same as a dog having prostatic enlargement, but in addition the dog is lethargic, and will have extreme pain in the abdomen area. Fortunately antibiotics are effective against most bacterial infections but only after a prolonged course of treatment.

Many of the problems that affect the prostate can be successfully treated but with vague signs at the beginning, the disease which may start as a mild infection can progress to prostate abscess. The infection becomes localised in pockets filled with pus which may rupture, spilling pus into the abdominal cavity. Fever, pain, septic shock or coma may follow if the problem is not discovered. If surgical draining is not a success, the entire prostate gland may have to be removed and intensive care required to prevent complications.

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