The prostate is a gland in male animals that is located at the base of the bladder and encircles the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside. The prostate produces a milky fluid, which provides an optimum environment for sperm. As an intact (not neutered) male dogs get older, the prostate can enlarge due to the presence of testosterone. This is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More than 80% of male dogs over the age of 6 have evidence of benign prostatic hypertrophy.
In most cases, BPH does not cause problems; however, in some dogs the enlarged prostate can put pressure on the colon. This may cause your pet to strain while defecating, and may cause your pet's stool to appear ribbon-like.
The prostate can cause more severe problems in some pets. Infections, cysts, and abscesses can occur within the prostate. Prostatic tumors can also occur in dogs. Prostate cancer is a very serious problem in dogs, and can affect both neutered and un-neutered males.
Prostatic abscess is a potentially life-threatening problem. An abscess is an infection that is encased within the body. Rupture of an abscess in the prostate releases the bacterial infection into the abdomen, which results in peritonitis. Dogs with peritonitis require emergency surgery and intensive care to remove the toxic infectious substances from the inside of the abdominal cavity. If your pet shows any sign of infection, enlarged prostate (straining to defecate), or abdominal pain, take your pet immediately to your veterinarian for evaluation.
Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue, your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from prostate disease or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified hospital.