Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)

Submitted and written by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson DVM

What is the prostate?

The prostate is the only accessory sex gland in the male dog.  The gland secretes a fluid that aids in the transport of sperm.  It is located near the base of the bladder, just below the colon and surrounds the urethra.  Your veterinarian is able to feel the prostate to assess its size, symmetry and texture while performing a rectal examination on your pet.

What is benign prostatic hypertrophy?

This is a condition that is commonly seen in older dogs.  The cells in the prostate get larger and multiply.  They may also form small pockets of fluid within the gland.    Due to its association with hormones secreted by the testes, this condition is only seen in intact male dogs.  BPH is a natural consequence of aging and many dogs have it without showing any clinical problems.

How will I know if my pet has this condition?

Blood in the urine, a bloody discharge from the penis that is not associated with urination, straining to defecate, producing ribbon-like stools or infertility may be signs that your pet has prostatic disease.  Benign prostatic hyperplasia usually does not cause straining, small stools or pain.  Your veterinarian will be able to perform a rectal examination and assess whether the prostate is enlarged.  Radiographs may also indicate that the prostate is enlarged.  An ultrasonographic examination and additional tests such as a urine culture, semen evaluation, or prostatic aspirate, will give further information as to whether the enlarged prostate appears to be due to some other disease process such as infection or cancer.  Fluid from the prostate can be attained and assessed under the microscope to help rule out other causes of prostatic enlargement.  

What is the treatment?

The permanent treatment for this disease is castration.  Studies have shown that the size of the prostate decreases 70% nine weeks post castration.  If castration is not an option, there are some medical ways to manage the disease.  However, many of these medications have significant side effects and are not permanent solutions or nearly as effective at decreasing the size of the prostate.  Finasteride, a human drug for prostatic enlargement, is one effective treatment that does not impact fertility.




Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM


An unplanned breeding between sexually intact dogs during a time when the bitch could be fertile (in estrus). Sometimes it is hard to tell if the breeding actually occurred (dogs were found together, unsupervised) or if possible (sexually immature dog). It is also difficult to tell in some cases whether the bitch was at a likely fertile time of her cycle.  


  1. Spay: if the bitch is not intended for breeding, plan to have her spayed as soon as she is out of estrus. This is the easiest and least cost option of pregnancy prevention.
  1. Early treatment: if the timing seemed appropriate and fertility is likely, we can terminate the litter in the first 2-3 weeks. This involves injections of a compound twice per day for four consecutive days. The time when this treatment starts is crucial for success and an exam within one week of the mismating is needed to schedule these treatments. In some cases a second exam is needed to accurately determine when to do this treatment. The advantage of this treatment: relatively easy, lower cost than mid-term abortion. The possible negatives: not guaranteed to work (about 80% effective), owners must bring in female for the injections twice per day and each treatment takes about one hour. Then they must return for follow up ultrasound 30 days after the breeding. In addition: the medication used for this procedure is Lutalyse: a natural prostaglandin. Each injection can cause nausea and irritability for approximately 30 minutes.
  1. Mid-term abortion: 30 days after the breeding, we will do an ultrasound exam to determine if there is a pregnancy. At that time medications can be given to cause the uterine contents to abort. This takes 4-10 days of treatment. The advantage: we are only treating when we know there is a pregnancy and we treat to effect-until all fetuses are expelled. The negative: nausea and irritability with each treatment–although tolerance to the medication usually develops over the treatment period.

Note: There is no negative impact on fertility with option #2 or #3. We can see a return to estrus sooner than expected. She can be bred at that next cycle, or it can be skipped.