Diagnosing Canine Prostate Cancer

Canine prostate cancer occurs in dogs of all breeds, and stems from the prostate gland that's situated near the dog's urinary bladder. Since prostate cancer is a degenerative disease, it can progress and infect various parts of the dog's body, including the lymph nodes and lungs. Although diagnosis can reveal disease progression and treatment options, most pets exhibit symptoms of prostate cancer only when the cancer becomes more advanced and causes bodily damage.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer in Dogs:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pain during urination
  • Dysuria
  • Weight loss
  • Incontinence
  • Bloody urine

Effects of Canine Prostate Cancer

The prostate gland works to maintain normal seminal fluids. Dogs suffering from prostate cancer have an enlarged prostate that exerts pressure on the urethra, causing several urinary conditions. Pets affected by an enlarged prostate gland also suffer from weakness in the legs and experience difficulty walking. The main aim of treatment after diagnosis is to help reduce discomfort and prevent further disease advancement in pets.

Diagnostic Tests for Canine Prostate Cancer:

  • Contrast X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Fine needle aspirate

Contrast X-ray

Contrast X-ray provides detailed radiographs of the bones and organs such as the prostate gland, to detect any changes caused by tumors or disease. X-rays have their limitations due to the opacity or shades of grey that often blend with the tissues and cause serious tumors to go unnoticed. A contrast x-ray with barium helps to obtain a better understanding of the internal organs in pets.


An ultrasound of the prostate gland and abdomen can reveal changes present in the tissue density, structure of internal organs and changes in shape or size of the prostate gland in particular. Vets prefer to use an ultrasound as a diagnostic tool, as it's a non-invasive technique used to determine internal conditions that otherwise can't be determined by a simple physical exam or blood test. Ultrasounds are safe for pets and take less than an hour to complete.

Fine Needle Aspirate

A fine needle aspirate is conducted in order to obtain a sample of mass from the infected organ. The procedure is not time consuming and doesn't require hospitalization or anesthesia. The vet will clean the site to prevent contamination and insert a fine needle in the decided area. A sample is drawn into the needle and then sent to the lab for pathological testing.

Treatment and Prognosis

It's best to conduct all three tests in order to have an established diagnosis. Fine needle aspirate testing may not provide a conclusive result, and hence re-testing may be necessary. Most pets suffering from prostate cancer are treated with chemotherapy and radiation. The vet will also prescribe medication to help relieve the pain and discomfort. Prostate cancer cannot be treated exclusively with surgery, as it's difficult to be operated upon. Most pets succumb to cancer in just a few months. Therefore, it's necessary to discuss the treatment options best suited to your dog.

Treatment for canine prostate cancer is also expensive. Pet owners should follow up with regular vet checks and proper home care.