Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

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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: 

  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Fever
  • Discharge from the penis
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Diagnosis of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

  • History and physical exam including digital rectal exam
  • Complete blood count
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Culture and sensitivity of the urine
  • Cytologic (microscopic) evaluation of seminal or prostatic fluid
  • Prostatic massage and wash for cytology, and culture and sensitivity
  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays)
  • Distention retrograde urethrocystography
  • Abdominal ultrasound with or without aspiration
  • Surgical exploratory
  • Treatment of Prostatic Abscess in Dogs

  • Intravenous fluids and intensive care support
  • Intravenous antibiotics are given initially, then followed by long term oral antibiotics
  • Urinary catheterization
  • Analgesic (pain medications) therapy
  • Ultrasound-guided prostatic abscess aspiration
  • Exploratory surgery for surgical drainage of the abscess
  • Castration
  • 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:

  • Paraprostatic cysts. Paraprostatic cysts are fluid-filled sacs that are connected to the prostate by a thin stalk. The cysts may be developmental in origin and arise from remnants of fetal tissue that normally degenerates (uterus masculinus). The cyst can also be directly of prostatic origin. Cysts can occur singly or in multiples, and they can get very large. Animals usually only feel ill if the cysts become large enough to compress other internal organs.
  • Prostatic neoplasia (cancer). Animals with prostatic neoplasia also tend to be systemically ill, and have a history of weight loss. Tumors of the prostate are almost always malignant. The most common tumors involving the prostate are adenocarcinoma and transitional cell carcinoma. In contrast to most other types of prostatic disease, prostatic cancer occurs with the same frequency in both intact and neutered dogs. In a neutered male dog with significant prostatomegaly, prostatic neoplasia would be high on the list of potential causes.
  • Acute prostatitis. Prostatitis is a bacterial infection of the prostate gland. Usually, the prostate is painful to palpation, and the dog acts ill. A large prostate and a bloody discharge from the penis or blood in the urine are also common signs. Animals with the acute disease may also present critically ill with septicemia.
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