Q: “Mikey,” our sweet chocolate lab, was just diagnosed with an enlarged prostate. The vet wants to see us back next week for more tests. How nervous should I be? P.L., Farragut
A: I’m sorry to hear about Mikey, but it is a good idea to pursue testing to find the cause of his prostate enlargement. Hopefully the cause is benign.
Most dogs with prostate enlargement are not neutered and are middle-aged or older. When male dogs are not neutered, they are still producing testosterone, which will have hormonal influence on the prostate.
Your veterinarian will likely discuss with you blood and urine tests, along with X-rays and ultrasound of the prostate. Occasionally, an aspirate or biopsy may be necessary.
The most common cause of an enlarged prostate in a healthy dog is benign prostatic hyperplasia. This simply means that the prostate is enlarged due to age and hormones with no other significant disease processes. BPH can still cause problems, as an enlarged prostate can put pressure on the bladder and/or colon, creating difficulty and/or discomfort.
Other causes of prostate enlargement include benign cysts, bacterial infections or bacterial abscesses. Prostate cancer does occur in dogs, but thankfully it is rare.
Based on the cause of the prostatic enlargement, your veterinarian will likely discuss neutering Mikey, especially if one of the benign causes is diagnosed. Castration will eliminate the production of testosterone, thus allowing the prostate to decrease in size. If neutering is not an option, some medical therapy options are available, and your vet can discuss whether on not it is appropriate for Mikey. And certainly, if bacterial infection is present, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Best of luck to you and Mikey next week.
If you have questions or concerns about your pet, e-mail Dr. Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org