Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

Overview of Canine Prostatic Abscess

A prostatic abscess is a localized walled off pocket of infection within or adjacent to the prostate gland. The contents of an abscess contain white blood cells, bacteria, and cellular debris. Abscesses may form within the prostate gland in cases of chronic (long term) prostatic bacterial infections.

Prostatic cysts may become infected and lead to large abscesses within or next to (but connected to) the prostate. They may get to be quite large and cause compression of both the colon and urethra.

Prostatic abscesses occur rarely in dogs and never in cats. They occur more commonly in intact (not neutered) male dogs, and older dogs are at greater risk than younger dogs. All breeds may be affected.

The clinical signs associated with a prostatic abscess vary from subtle to severe.

What to Watch For

Symptoms of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs may include:

Diagnosis of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

Treatment of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

Home Care and Prevention

Recheck examinations 7 to 14 days later are strongly suggested, as follow-up examination and prostatic palpation is prudent. Abnormal blood tests should be re-evaluated. The urine or a sample of the prostatic fluid may need to be re-cultured at this time.

Cultures of urine and or prostatic fluid might be recommended after finishing the antibiotics. Abdominal ultrasounds may need to be followed postoperatively to ensure the resolution of the abscess.

Your pet should continue to improve on therapy at home, but relapses may occur. If there is any deterioration in his condition, or recurrence of clinical signs, notify your veterinarian.

Neutering a dog before reaching sexual maturity may decrease the incidence of prostatic abscess formation.

In-depth Information on Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

The location and anatomy of the prostate is important in understanding the clinical signs associated with prostatic abscesses. The prostate is located just behind the urinary bladder and under the colon. The prostate encircles the urethra – the tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis and out of the body – as it exits the bladder. The prostate is made up of two symmetrical parts, or lobes, located on either side of the urethra. When the prostate is small it sits within the pelvic canal, but as it increases in size, it moves forward into the abdomen.

The clinical signs of prostatic abscesses vary with the type and severity of the prostatic disease. Prostatic abscesses usually arise from chronic infections of the prostate gland. The abscess forms as the immune system attempts to isolate, or wall off, an area of infection. E. coli is the most common bacterium that causes prostatitis and abscessation. There may be single or multiple abscesses within the prostate. The abscess can be small or very large. The largest abscesses probably develop from paraprostatic cysts (large fluid filled sacs connected to the prostate by a thin stalk) that become infected. These abscesses may become large enough to put pressure on other internal organs.

When the abscess enlarges to the point of putting pressure on the colon and decreasing its functional diameter, your dog will strain when defecating (tenesmus). The occasional “ribbon-like” appearance to the stools is a result of this compression. The decreased diameter can also result in constipation. If the abscess places pressure on the urethra, your dog will also strain when he urinates and there will be a urethral obstruction. Dogs with prostatic abscesses are usually ill. They may have either acute (rapid) or chronic (long standing) illness.

Animals may become critically ill if there is a urinary obstruction, or if the bacterial infection has spread to the blood (septicemia). Occasionally a large thin walled abscess may rupture, and release it’s contents into the abdominal cavity. This requires emergency treatment, as peritonitis, or inflammation within the abdominal cavity, and possibly septic shock would result. Other diseases that may cause similar signs as a prostatic abscess include:

In-depth Information on Diagnosis of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

A complete history and physical examination is the first step in obtaining an accurate diagnosis. If large enough the abscess may be palpable (felt) through the abdomen. More commonly, prostatic abscesses may be detected as a softer area on an enlarged, irregular prostate by digital rectal examination. A dog with a prostatic abscess may be quite ill and require a rapid diagnostic assessment. Other times, a critical situation is not present and the diagnostics may proceed in a more orderly manner.

Fine needle aspiration – inserting a needle into a structure and removing a small amount of cells or fluid with negative pressure using a syringe – may be used to collect fluid from abscess for cytologic evaluation. Extreme care and good judgment are needed when attempting this procedure since infected material from the inside of the abscess may leak out of the aspirated site and into the abdomen. Peritonitis would ensue, requiring rapid therapy. If this procedure is attempted, your veterinarian must be prepared for emergency surgery to flush out the abdomen and to treat the abscess. Even though this procedure caries a degree or risk, it may be the only way to diagnose the abscess other than exploratory surgery. Ultrasound-guided biopsy should not be attempted.

In-depth Information on Treatment of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

Antibiotics are very important in the treatment of the infection; however, their effect is limited since they do not penetrate well into the abscess cavity. Antibiotic treatment, alone, may improve the clinical signs in the short term, but rarely would they lead to a cure. For this reason, surgical drainage of the abscess is needed if a cure is to be obtained. Since the surgery is technically difficult and requires intensive care monitoring post-operatively, cases are often referred to specialty hospitals with 24 hour critical care. Dogs require aggressive therapy after surgery. Septicemia and shock are common complications immediately post-operatively. The mortality rate within the first few days may approach 25 percent. Specific treatment of a prostatic abscess includes:

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Prostatic Abscess

Optimal treatment for your dog requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your dog does not improve rapidly.