Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate) in Dogs

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Overview of Prostatitis (Inflammation of the Prostate) in Dogs

Prostatitis is a bacterial infection of the prostate gland. Infection of the prostate may be caused by disease of the urethra, which is the small tube where urine flows from the bladder through the penis, other urinary tract infections, or may be secondary to other forms of prostatic disease.

It occurs more commonly in intact (not neutered) male dogs, and older dogs are at greater risk than younger dogs. It occurs in both acute (sudden) and chronic (long standing) forms of prostatitis, but animals with the acute form are generally more debilitated than with the chronic form. It is not a significant clinical disease in cats.

Clinical signs of prostatitis vary with the severity of the infection and whether the disease is acute or chronic.

What to Watch For

Symptoms of Prostatitis in dogs may include: 

  • Fever
  • Cloudy or bloody discharge from the penis
  • Blood in the urine
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Stiff gait
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Straining to urinate or defecate
  • Anorexia
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Chronic intermittent urinary tract infections
  • Infertility in a breeding male
  • Diagnosis of Prostatitis in Dogs

  • History and physical exam including digital rectal exam
  • 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)
  • Abdominal ultrasound with or without prostatic aspiration
  • Clotting profile
  • Complete blood count
  • Biochemical profile
  • Treatment of Prostatitis in Dogs

  • Antibiotics are typically given for a minimum 4 weeks
  • Intravenous fluids may be required in acute prostatitis
  • Analgesic or pain medications
  • Neutering may be recommended
  • Home Care and Prevention

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

    Make sure the urine color is becoming more clear if it was abnormal when your pet was ill. Your pet should continue to improve on therapy at home, but relapses may occur, especially with chronic disease. If there is any deterioration in condition, or recurrence of clinical signs, notify your veterinarian.

    Cultures of urine and or prostatic fluid might be recommended after finishing the antibiotics.

    Neutering a dog before reaching sexual maturity may decrease the incidence of prostatitis.

    In-depth Information on Canine Prostatitis 

    The most common cause of prostatitis is believed to be ascending infection from the urethra. The prostate can also become infected from infections in the bladder, kidneys or blood. If other forms of prostatic disease are present, such as cysts, neoplasia or squamous metaplasia, the prostate may be predisposed to developing a secondary infection. E. coli is the most common bacterium that causes infection.

    There are actually two different clinical presentations of prostatitis in the dog: acute and chronic. These two forms of the disease often present very differently, and require a different work-up and different therapy. In acute prostatitis, animals are usually quite ill and may even require emergency care. Animals are usually febrile and may have significant abdominal pain. Some dogs may even present with a critical blood infection (septicemia). On the other hand, dogs with chronic disease are generally much more stable or and have no clinical symptoms.

    Signs of chronic prostatitis are may be subtle and include: chronic intermittent urinary tract disease, intermittent discharge from the urethra, weight loss, and infertility in the breeding animal. Chronic prostatitis may develop after acute prostatitis is treated. Many times the diagnosis of the chronic disease is difficult to confirm and a prostatic biopsy is required for definitive diagnosis.

    Other diseases that may cause similar clinical signs as prostatitis include:

  • Urinary tract infections. Bacterial infections of the urinary bladder or kidneys may cause blood in the urine, fever and abdominal pain. It is not uncommon for an animal to have a urinary tract infection together with prostatitis.
  • Prostatic abscess. An abscess is a walled off pocket of infection containing white blood cells, bacteria and cellular debris. Abscesses occasionally form within the prostate gland in cases of chronic prostatic infections. They may get to be quite large and cause compression of both the colon and urethra. Animals may straining when they defecate or urinate, and most animals feel ill.
  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is the most common form of prostatomegaly (increased prostate size), with virtually all intact male dog acquiring the condition as they age. It is caused by an increase in number and size of the prostate cells as the intact dog ages and is exposed to normal hormonal influences. It is a benign condition that usually does not cause any clinical signs. Occasionally a urethra discharge is present, which can be bloody. The majority of the time this condition is found incidentally on routine physical examination. Dogs with chronic prostatitis sometimes have very similar signs.
  • Prostatic neoplasia (cancer). Prostatic neoplasia may closely mimic chronic prostatitis. Animals with prostatic neoplasia 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 is high on the list of potential causes. Many times, a prostatic biopsy is required to differentiate chronic prostatitis from prostatic neoplasia.
  • Squamous metaplasia. Squamous metaplasia is a change in the prostate gland due to elevated blood estrogen levels. The main cause of this is an estrogen-producing tumor (Sertoli cell tumor). Long-term oral estrogen supplementation can also cause these changes. Sertoli cell tumors can also cause a chronic debilitating disease due to the suppressive effects of estrogen on the bone marrow.
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