What is an Enlarged Prostate?
Male dogs and cats have a prostate gland just like men do. In order to understand the implications of prostate problems such as an enlarged prostate, one has to have an understanding of the location and anatomy of the prostate.
The prostate gland is found in male pets only. It is small, consists of two lobes and lies just behind the bladder, surrounding the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis and out of the body) and below the rectum.
Its function is to produce prostatic fluids that provide nourishment for sperm cells to the penis during breeding. The prostate begins to develop before your pet reaches puberty – this is determined by the male hormone known as testosterone that will occur in unneutered animals. By the age of two years old, the prostate gland reaches its maximum size.
What Causes Enlarged Prostate?
An enlarged prostate develops as a result of the following:
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) or cystic hyperplasia
- Prostatisis (bacterial infection of prostate gland)
- Paraprostatic cysts (large fluid-filled sacs connected to the prostate by a thin stalk)
- Squamous metaplasia (enlargement of the prostate gland caused by excessive exposure to estrogen)
- Prostatic abscess (a pocket of infected fluid develops within the prostate and is a severe form of prostatitis).
- Prostatic neoplasia (tumors of the prostate gland)
When a male pet is neutered most of the prostate gland is removed and as a result prostate problems seldom occur. Enlarged prostates often affect older intact male animals. When an intact dog or cat grows older, their hormone levels – testosterone and estrogen change and cause the prostate gland to swell. A swollen prostate gland causes extreme discomfort and pain, and makes urinating and defecating for your pet very difficult.
Diagnosing Enlarged Prostate
The diagnosis of an enlarged prostate is based on the symptoms presented, thorough physical examination including a rectal exam and a review of your pet’s medical history. Certain tests such as a urinalysis, urine culture, blood tests, x-rays, ultrasound and biopsy may be performed to confirm a diagnosis.
The common symptoms and signs of an enlarged prostate include:
- Clear, cloudy, yellow or bloody discharge from penis
- Walking abnormally (as if walking on egg shells)
- Stiff rear legs and straight at the knee
- Straining to urinate
- Straining to pass stool and constipation
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal discomfort
- Recurring urinary tract infections
- Fertility problems
Help for Enlarged Prostate
The treatment recommended for an enlarged prostate in animals is neutering them at an early age, usually before puberty to prevent the normal growth of the prostate. If your pet is neutered later in life, after the testosterone is removed, prostate gland will shrink.
Depending on the cause and diagnosis, treatment of an enlarged prostate may involve intravenous fluids, intravenous antibiotics, urinary catheterization, pain medications and enemas. More serious cases may also require surgery.
Natural and holistic remedies have also shown to be highly effective in maintaining prostate health and providing symptomatic relief. Herbal and homeopathic remedies are safe and gentle to use for you and your pet, while also promoting overall health and wellbeing. Herbs such as Sabal Serrulata (Saw Palmetto), Galium aperine (Cleavers) and Echinacea purpurea acts as a prostate tonic, lymphatic cleanser and blood purifier and also helps to support the immune system.
More Information on Enlarged Prostate
Tips to manage a pet with an enlarged prostate
There are certain things that you can do to maintain prostate health and ease the symptoms of an enlarged prostate:
- Neuter your pet in the first year of his life to prevent and control prostate problems
- Take your pet out frequently to urinate to relieve discomfort and prevent urinary tract infections – it may be difficult for a pet with an enlarged prostate to urinate all at once
- Encourage your pet to drink more water so that he can urinate more often
- Do not over exercise pets with prostate problems as this will worsen symptoms and cause pain to the prostate
- If your pet has difficulty defecating, ask your vet to prescribe a stool softener or use natural herbal remedies to relieve constipation
- Feed your dog or cat a high quality, all natural diet that contains the essential vitamins, nutrients and minerals
- Incorporate immune-building supplements into your pet’s diet to strengthen the immune system