How To Recognize Canine Prostate Cancer
Canine prostate cancer is extremely rare. It has been estimated to occur in male dogs less than 1 percent of the time, or in about 0.6 percent of male dogs. When tumors do occur in the canine prostate, they are usually malignant and they are potentially life threatening. Male dogs do have an increased risk of suffering a problem with their prostate as they grow older, although most do not ever experience prostate cancer.
Although it is extremely rare, when canine prostate cancer does occur, it may metastasize and spread through the dog’s body in the bloodstream. It can then affect the liver, the lungs, or the kidneys. It may also affect the lymph nodes and other areas of the body.
There is currently no cure for prostate cancer in the dog. Prostate cancer is usually treated by means of radiation.
Dog owners are often led to believe that if they neuter their dogs, their dogs will have a reduced risk, or no risk of prostate cancer. Unfortunately this information is not true. In separate studies it has been found that neutered male dogs were four times more likely to get prostate cancer than intact dogs.
According to researchers the studies suggested that neutering dogs did not cause the development of prostate cancer but that being neutered did favor the progress of tumors. The researchers also stated that most prostate cancers in dogs were of ductal/urothelial origin. They believe that testicular hormones, such as those which intact dogs have, may be protective against these cancers.
However, whether a dog is intact or neutered, the risk of prostate cancer is still extremely low.
Signs of prostate problems in dogs may include the following:
- enlarged prostate
- painful urination
- painful defecation
- straining to defecate
- an abnormal walk
- discharge from the penis (blood and pus)
- straining to urinate
Since the prostate lies inside the pelvis, behind the bladder and just below the rectum, you won’t be able to see it. However, if it is swollen, infected, or if it has developed a tumor, then you will be able to observe how it is affecting your dog. Your dog may be walking oddly. It will be difficult for him to relieve himself, either when he urinates or defecates. There may be signs of infection such as blood and pus in the urine or in a discharge from the penis.
The prostate gland performs a necessary function for your dog to produce and deliver sperm. Fluid from the prostate is included in the fluid when your dog ejaculates. It provides nourishment to sperm and provides liquid volume for the sperm to swim once they have been released. The liquid makes it easier for your dog’s sperm to reach their destination once they have been released into the female dog’s vaginal tract.
If your dog’s prostate becomes diseased then it is often swollen and painful. You should watch for signs that your dog is having trouble with bowel movements, urination, or with painful walking.
Most vets will routinely examine a male dog’s prostate gland during their annual check-up. Your vet can do this by inserting a gloved finger into your dog’s rectum and palpating the prostate. Your vet can feel the prostate and take note of its size, shape, consistency and symmetry. He or she can also observe if your dog feels any pain in the prostate during the exam. Your vet may also use a catheter following the exam to take cells from the prostate. This sample can be checked under a microscope to see if there is any infection, inflammation, or cancer.
Intact dogs may have their semen evaluated for signs of problems with the prostate. X-rays and ultrasounds can also be used to evaluate the prostate and the areas around it. In some cases your veterinarian may need to do a biopsy of the prostate in order to make a successful diagnosis.
There is no cure for canine prostate cancer but, if your dog has other problems with his prostate, there are therapies. However, those therapies can be expensive and take time. Intact dogs are usually neutered if there is a problem with the prostate. However, neutering will not affect a case involving canine prostate cancer.