BEST OF CARE: MODERN MEDICINE, TRADITIONAL VALUES

Lots of cuddles today for Reggie who came in to St Columb to be castrated.

Benefits of Castration

The main benefit owners see when they bring their dogs to us to be castrated, is that their male dogs are less likely to roam and less likely to mark their territory and stop for a urine marking every 10 paces on a walk.

penmellyn vets Cornwall dog Reggie in waiting room

Another not so commonly known fact is that castration of males increases their lifespan as it removes the likelihood of developing diseases or tumours of the prostate gland.

When an unneutered male dog reaches 8 years of age, he has a greater than 80% chance of developing prostate disease, but it is rarely cancerous.

The gland serves the same function in the dog as it does in man and suffers from all the same diseases.

Most unneutered canines will at one time or another, suffer a lot of discomfort if not severe pain due to the prostate gland.

Signs of prostate disease

Classically, in the dog, an enlarged prostate causes painful defaecation. The prostate gland lies right below the rectum within the bony pelvis.

The canal through the pelvis is only so big and it cannot get any bigger on an individual dog.

Therefore, when the prostate increases in size, it pushes up against the rectum, greatly decreasing the space available for the rectum. This is the most common cause of constipation and faecal straining in the male dog.

Dogs with painful prostates will often walk abnormally. They are attempting to keep anything from pushing against or putting pressure on the swollen, painful gland.

Their rear legs will be stiff and straight at the knee and hock and they will usually take very short steps.

Other signs directly associated with prostatic infection are discharges from the penis including blood and pus, straining to urinate, and in rare cases, peritonitis, which develops when bacteria from the prostate leak out and enter the abdominal cavity.

Types of prostatic disease in the dog

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: In the dog, by far the most common prostatic disease is benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is not caused by bacterial or viral infection and it is not a form of cancer.

It is, rather, a normal ageing process of the gland. Almost all dogs over 4-5 years of age will show some degree of prostatic enlargement.

In many, the gland may not yet be painful, but as the condition continues with age, it will at the very least be a source of constant discomfort.

Bacterial Infections: Probably, the second most common form of prostatic disease in the dog is bacterial infection.

Bacteria can get into the prostate via the blood system or from the urinary tract.

Chronic infections follow this phase and may go on for years. They are difficult to treat, as bacteria can become trapped within scarred tissue of the gland. It is almost impossible to get medications into these areas.

The chronic stage is less painful, but still is a potential source of bacterial spread to other areas. Most dogs that have repeated bladder infections are just being continuously reinfected with bacteria from the diseased prostate.

Abscesses are a chronic form of bacterial infection in which pockets of pus have developed within the gland.

Cancer: Unlike humans, prostatic cancers are uncommon in the dog. Some would describe them as rare. When they do occur, they are usually malignant and potentially life threatening.

The cancer may spread throughout the body by the blood system. We have no cure for prostatic cancer so we do recommend castration of male dogs.

Over 90% of all prostatic diseases would be prevented during the life of all dogs if the animal was castrated in the first year of life.

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