Symptoms of Prostate Cancer in Dogs
See files for Dogs
In this AnimalWised article, we are going to discuss how to detect the symptoms of prostate cancer in dogs. Knowing the signs and symptoms of this disease mean you will be best able to catch it early. Early detection leads to a quicker diagnosis and a better prognosis for the canine. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms of this disease do not manifest until the cancer has advanced. This is why taking our dog to the vet for regular check ups, not just when we see symptoms of a pathology, is so important. They will be able to determine if the condition is cancerous or even a different condition is affecting the gland.
Once our dog has a positive diagnosis of prostate cancer, then we can also look into treatment options to see which need to be considered. We will also discuss the background of prostate cancer in dogs to help in best preventing its occurrence.
What is the prostate and what does it do?
Before we talk about prostate cancer in dogs and its consequences for canine health, we should understand its basic function. The prostate is an accessory sex gland for male. It surrounds the urethra below the bladder and takes a bilobed form (consisting of two lobes). During rectal exams it is felt in the upper part of this area. If you want to know where is the prostate located in a dog, you can get an idea by looking below at our picture of the urogenital (or urogenitourinary) system in dogs. More specifically, the prostate gland is part of the reproductive system.
The prostate is an exocrine gland. Like all exocrine glands, it produces and secretes substances via a duct rather than into the blood stream. Those which secrete into the bloodstream are known as endocrine glands. The substance secreted by the prostate in dogs is used to help motility and ejaculation of sperm. There are several pathologies other than prostate cancer which can affect the prostate. Due to its location near the digestive tract, it can lead to problems with the elimination of urine and feces.
Problems with the prostate in canines
Some may wonder if it is possible to get prostate cancer in female dogs. As the prostate gland is something located only in the male dog's reproductive system, then females will be affected by it. They can, however, suffer from uterine problems and other cancers which do not affect male dogs. Some problems which may affect the canine prostate include:
- Prostatitis: this is a bacterial infection which usually occurs after cystitis. It can cause pain, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and excretions containing blood and/or pus. It is treated with antibiotics and castration is recommened.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia: this is the uniform growth of the prostate which occurs more frequently in older dogs. it is related to hormonal activity, specifically testosterone. This is also usually treated with castration. After surgery, the prognosis is usually reduction in the size of the prostate and reduction in symptoms.
- Cancerous neoplasms: a neoplasm is an abnormal or excessive growth of tissue. In the prostate, it usually exists as a canine prostatic carcinoma which we will discuss further below. Not all are cancerous, as can be seen in hyperplasia, but they do not appear to be related to testosterone levels.
Prostate cancer is something which more greatly affects older dogs, so age is a significant risk factor. The overall health of the dog will be another factor and related issues include obesity and diet. The genetic history of the dog may also influence the likelihood of development, but research into this area is slight. This is in part due to the difficulty in finding the history of affected dogs.
It is important to note that prostate cancer in dogs is relatively rare, especially when compared to humans. However, it is more common in dogs which have been castrated. There are many benefits to sterilization for dogs. Although, castration may increase the risk of prostate cancer, this does not mean it outweighs its benefits and sterilization can help to reduce other cancers.
To arrive at a diagnosis, the veterinarian will need to carry out a rectal exam. They will also need to carry out some diagnostic tests. These may include:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
Symptoms of prostate cancer in
Due to the location of the prostate in dogs, it can often interfere with surrounding systems. As the cancer causes the prostate to enlarge, increased pressure is exerted onto the surrounding organs and tissue. When such pressure is applied to the urethra and rectum, there are likely to be repercussions in urination and defecation, respectively. Stools may appear flatter than usual and fecal compaction may occur.
It is also possible the dog may pee a little blood. However, this does not always occur during urination and they may secrete blood from the penis. In some cases, the dog is likely to have a hard time walking. If we see any of these symptoms we need to take them to the veterinarian.
One of the most affecting problems with prostate cancer in dogs is that it can be asymptomatic. This means you may not notice any alteration in their health until the cancer has spread (metastasized). After this time, it may show some end stage prostate cancer problems such as weightloss, loss of apetite, anorexia, vomiting or even paralysis. A full overview of the symptoms include:
- Trouble with urination (incontinence)
- Blood in feces
- Blood in urine
- Abnormal secretions from the penis
- Problems with gait while walking
- Abnormal posture
- Difficulty breathing
- Abnormal tail movement
- Flattened stool
- Paralysis, especially in hind quarters
- Scooting on the ground
Treatment of prostate cancer in dogs
If the problem is a benign neoplasm such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, castration is recommended. This is because the cause of the growth is usually due to hormone production and removing the testicles lowers testosterone production. However, it does not appear that hormones do not cause canine prostate carcinoma, even if they may favor progression of the tumor. It appears that some pathologies such as the aforementioned prostatitis and hyperplasia may exist prior to the appearance of prostate cancer in dogs.
When treating prostate cancer in dogs, surgery is generally not recommended. This is because the complications are vast and may cause serious harm to the dog's well-being and quality of life even if the cancer is removed. Radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy are more commonly administered as treatment, but it will depend on the stage to which the prostate cancer has developed.
As we have said, the main problem is recognizing the cancer when it is asymptomatic. In its advanced stage, the cancer will metastasize to the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, spleen or even bones. At this stage, prognosis is particularly bad an euthanasia may be recommend by the veterinarian.
How to prevent prostate cancer in dogs
Different breeds will have different health considerations to make with their overall care. Working dogs and those exposed to potential hazards may need to be brought to the veterinarian for more regular checkups. In general, all dogs should be taken to the vet at least once a year. When the dog reaches 7 years of age, it will be considered an elderly dog and should be taken more often for a general physical exam. This should include a prostate exam to ensure there is no enlargement of the gland.
Providing an adequate diet is also important for your dog and can contribute indirectly to reducing the possibility of prostate cancer. Frequent exercise is also important for overall canine health. If you would like to know more about reproduction related cancers in dogs, you may want to learn about transmisible venereal tumors.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Symptoms of Prostate Cancer in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Reproductive system diseases category.