The Diagnosis of Canine Prostate Cancer

Usually affecting older dogs, canine prostate cancer is an aggressive disease that typically offers few (if any) early warning signs. The disease occurs in both dogs that have and have not been neutered, and it can spread to other areas of the animal's body, including the lymph nodes, bones and lungs. There is not a clearly defined cause for dog prostate cancer, and the initial diagnosis often comes only at an advanced stage. Detection of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment are possible, but the likelihood that a dog will survive a long time after treatment is slim, ranging from an average six weeks to a year.

Symptoms to Watch Out For

A dog who may be suffering from prostate cancer will show symptoms. In general, weight loss and apparent pain are two that are immediately noticeable. These, by themselves, do not necessarily point to canine prostate cancer, but if you detect them, you may want to look further. What happens with canine prostate cancer is that the gland enlarges and pushes up against the wall of the urethra. This puts pressure on the dog's penis and makes it difficult to urinate. There may even blood in the urine. The animal's back may begin to arch as it walks with shorter, stiffer steps. Other ailments share the same symptoms of urinary problems like dog kidney failure and dog bladder infection, so an accurate diagnosis may require additional tests.

Diagnosing Canine Prostrate Cancer

Early detection of canine prostate cancer is difficult because the symptoms are shared by a number of diseases and the dog is often of an advanced enough age not to merit much scrutiny. For this reason, the cancer can be quite far along by the time it is detected. If you suspect your dog may be suffering from the disease, there are some options. Urine tests, an ultrasound and X-rays can all detect canine prostate cancer, as can a camera inserted into the dog. The most effective method, however, is a biopsy of the rectal wall which will indicate definitively the present of disease.

Prostrate Cancer Treatment Depending on Diagnosis

Because a canine prostate gland is more complex than that of a human being, surgery is typically not recommended. It can be done, but it is very dangerous. The two more viable options are radiation and chemotherapy. Treatment can stave off the disease for a time, but most dogs succumb to the illness or complications from the treatment six weeks to a year afterward.

Canine prostate cancer can be detected, but it usually is not until it has advanced, possibly spreading to other internal regions. The symptoms are shared with other ailments, so the only way to know for sure is to have tests (usually a biopsy) to know for sure. You can choose to treat your dog for the cancer with radiation or chemotherapy, but the chances for long term survival are slim.