When you let your dog remain un-neutered, it is almost a given that he will develop prostate problems. While prostate cancer in dogs is rare, prostate problems are not. Dogs are extremely likely to have problems as they get older simply due to normal hormone changes. However, some unlucky dogs have serious and even dangerous bacterial infections which may need a trip to the emergency veterinarian.
What are the signs of a prostate problem in dogs:
Generally, as the prostate enlarges, whether it's from age or a bacterial infection, your dog will strain when he urinates or defecates. He may also walk stiffly and appear uncomfortable and may have a mild, occasional discharge from his penis. However, if he has an infection, also known as prostatitis, he will show more serious symptoms such as vomiting and lethargy. Symptoms can come on gradually, or all at once. Dogs with a chronic condition can also develop large abscesses which affect other organs in the same area.
What causes these prostate problems?
General prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, is basically the result of being a male and getting older. Other than hormonal changes, there's no known causes for this type of problem. For prostatitis, it is suspected that it is caused by bacteria from the urethra or transferred from a bladder or kidney infection. Dogs who are older and already have benign prostatic hyperplasia are at greater risk because their prostate's ability to fight off these bacteria may be weaker.
How are prostate problems treated?
If your dog has prostatitis, then he must be treated with antibiotics and other medication immediately. There is a chance the the problem will come back and your dog will need treatment again. If you want to either relief him of this problem, or prevent it from happening altogether, then you must have him neutered. If you neuter him before he's fully mature, his prostate will remain small and undeveloped and cause no problems. However, if you have an older dog, you can still neuter him and reduce his chance of problems. While his prostate won't totally diminish, it will shrink back significantly and eventually become non-functional.
Unless your dog is being used for breeding, or has a problem preventing him from being neutered, you should considered having the procedure done. Neutering will eliminate prostate problems as well as other problems related to hormones and reproductive organs. If you choose to keep your male dog intact, then you should be prepared to for these types of health problems as he gets older.