Overview of Canine Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), or cystic hyperplasia, is an age related change of the prostate where the prostate increases in size. This increase in size, or hyperplasia, is a non-cancerous change that generally does not cause clinical problems. BPH is the most common disease of the prostate, and occurs in almost all intact male dogs as they age.
The increase in size is caused by hormonal changes in the ratio of androgens, like testosterone, and estrogens. Most dogs act normal, but if there is a very large amount of prostatic hyperplasia, a dog might become symptomatic.
What to Watch For
Signs of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) in Dogs may include:
Even if a dog is showing symptoms, he usually feels fine.
Diagnosis of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) in Dogs
Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) in Dogs
Home Care and Prevention
If your pet is asymptomatic, that is he has no clinical signs, observe for symptoms associated with an enlarging prostate. If he's neutered, any clinical signs previously present should improve significantly within a few weeks.
If the treatment involves neutering, the incision should be monitored for any swelling or discharge.
If medical management is attempted, careful monitoring of clinical signs and blood tests will be needed.
The only prevention for BPH is having your dog neutered.
In-depth Information on Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH) in Dogs
Dogs and men are the only two species that experience BPH, but it is so common that nearly every intact dog is affected as they age. The prostate is located just behind the bladder and has two main parts or lobes. Above the prostate is the colon. Dogs with BPH usually have a symmetrical enlargement of both lobes. The enlargement is not painful. Some dogs, specifically the Scottish terrier, normally have larger prostates than other dogs. Most animals with BPH have no symptoms and feel fine. Many times the diagnosis is made on routine yearly physical examination.
When an enlarged prostate (prostatomegaly) is found on physical, it is important to rule out the causes of pathologic (disease causing) prostatic enlargement. The diagnosis of BPH, itself, is a benign condition that often requires no treatment. As dogs age, testosterone and estrogen levels change, and the prostate cells become larger and more numerous and often form multiple small cysts throughout the prostatic tissue. With time, this leads to a prostate gland that gradually enlarges.
Unlike in people, the enlarged prostate gland usually does not cause problems urinating, but occasionally may cause changes in bowel movements. A prostate may grow large enough to put pressure on the colon and compress its diameter. Straining to defecate (produce a bowel movement) may be noted. Occasionally, stools formed may be flat and long, like a ribbon, because as the prostate enlarges, the diameter of the colon becomes flattened.
Along with the increase in prostatic size comes an increase in prostatic blood vessels, or vasculature, and the increase in blood supply may lead to the occasional clinical sign of bloody urine or a bloody discharge from the penis. Other diseases that cause an enlarged prostate gland or similar clinical signs include:
The following tests may be indicated in some, but not all, dogs suspected of having BPH:
Fine needle aspiration is useful in collecting fluid from cysts or obtaining small cell samples from the prostatic tissue. A biopsy provides a core of tissue for histopathology (microscopic examination of tissue), and usually provides more accurate information about the pathology of the prostate, since a larger amount of tissue can be evaluated. The ultrasound appearance of a dog's prostate with BPH generally shows a smooth capsule (covering) with the gland symmetrically enlarged. Small cystic areas may be noted that are usually well defined and have smooth margins. Biopsy is the only way to diagnose BPH definitively, but most times is not performed if the clinical presentation and history are typical.
BPH is a benign condition that generally does not cause any clinical signs or problems, and thus does not require treatment. It is prudent to be advised of the situation and to be aware of any potential future clinical signs. The most important aspect of establishing a diagnosis of BPH is in ruling out other causes of pathologic (disease causing) prostatomegaly. When a diagnosis of BPH is made, or suspected, several treatment options are available:
Follow-up Care for Dogs with Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy
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.