Prostate Infection in Dogs: Prostatitis

Prostate infection in dogs can be life-threatening.

Prostatitis in dogs can be a serious, painful condition. It requires treatment to resolve, so it's important to be aware of its causes and signs so you know when to be suspicious that your dog may be affected by it.

What Is the Prostate?

In male dogs, the prostate is a small gland that sits just behind the bladder. In fact, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside world, the urethra, travels through it. The prostate is a reproductive gland, producing and secreting some of the components of a dog's semen.

What Is Canine Prostatitis, and What Causes It?

Prostatitis is inflammation and infection of the prostate gland. It most often occurs secondarily to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which is a condition that is part of the normal aging process in un-neutered dogs. During BPH, the prostate enlarges over time, but it is not affected by cancer, and the enlargement is usually not a problem for the dog. However, the changes that result in BPH in a dog's prostate as he ages can also lead to a decrease in the gland's ability to defend against invasion and infection.

Bacteria are the most common organisms to cause prostatitis in dogs, and they usually find their way to the gland from the outside world by ascending through the urethra. However, sometimes, the prostate may become infected by bacteria that have colonized the kidneys or bladder or through a blood infection.

Signs of Canine Prostatitis

Dogs with infections of the prostate are likely to be showing some signs of illness. The most common signs that dogs with prostatitis show are:

*Because the prostate sits just below the colon, its enlargement and infection can cause the signs related to passing stool above.

If an abscess, or pocket of infection, develops within the prostate gland and then bursts, releasing its contents into the dog's abdomen, he may collapse, show signs of shock such as labored breathing and pale gums, or even die.

It's important to note that some dogs may not show many of the above signs of illness, especially if it is a chronic, low-grade prostatitis. Instead, recurrent urinary tract infections might be noted by your veterinarian.

How Is Prostatitis in Dogs Diagnosed?

When your dog is showing signs of illness, visit the veterinarian. In the case of prostatitis, he or she will probably do some or all of the following to diagnose it:

Treatment for Infection of the Prostate in Dogs

Prostatitis is treated with antibiotics. It is likely that your veterinarian will begin a course of an antibiotic that is known to treat most cases of prostatitis while waiting for urine culture results from the lab to confirm. At that point, the antibiotic may be changed if the test results warrant it. Pain medications are often used to keep the dog comfortable while the antibiotics begin to work. Dogs that are extremely sick may need to be hospitalized for intravenous (IV) fluids for support and rehydration. Antibiotic therapy is normally continued for one to four weeks, and it is important to recheck the urinalysis, urine culture, and physical exam to ensure that the infection is gone. Neutering is often recommended once the antibiotic treatment is finished because dogs that have experienced prostatitis once are prone to developing it again.

Prevention of Canine Prostatitis

Most cases of prostatitis can be avoided by having your dog neutered, as can most instances of prostate cancer.

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