What You Should Know About Prostate Cancer in Dogs

Apr 2, 2024by Denise Lessard

Finding out that your beloved dog has prostate cancer is no doubt one of the worst things that you'll ever hear from a veterinary oncologist. This disease primarily affects the entire prostate gland and can lead to very serious—or even fatal—consequences if not properly and immediately dealt with.

Please remember that we here at Zumalka are with you should your canine best friend be diagnosed with a dog's prostate cancer or if you suspect that they are going through with this terrible health issue.

This is the reason why we've put together this blog post to get you in on everything you need to know about prostate cancer in dogs. While prostate cancer in dogs is rather rare, (affecting less than 1% of dogs), it can be serious, and sadly, it can be deadly.

Everything you need to know about a dog's prostate cancer

Besides giving you an overview of its disease process, we will also walk you through the clinical signs related to canine prostate cancer, the risk factors involved, how it is diagnosed, the possible treatment options that you can go for, as well as other useful information.

We also have a complete guide to dog cancer with more information about different cancers affecting dogs.


What is Prostate Cancer in Dogs?

Dog taking a rest outside

Sitting just at the top of the urinary bladder, the prostate gland is a key part of the reproductive system of male dogs. Its main function is to produce some of the components needed to make seminal fluid, which is technically referred to as prostatic fluid.

What's interesting about the prostate gland is that while it is located where the urethra passes, it is not connected to the urinary system at all. However, should male dogs go through bladder infection or a similar illness (e.g. urinary tract infection), prostatic diseases like prostate infections may also ensue.

Prostatic adenocarcinoma and related issues are rare but can be very serious

When it comes to prostatic cancers, they usually arise when rare prostatic tumors get in the picture. It is not uncommon that these tumors can get quite massive in size. While an enlarged prostate gland may only be due to benign prostatic hyperplasia, there is still the risk of prostatic cancer.

However, it is important to remember that although prostatic tumors are few and far between, the majority of them turn out to be malignant or a dog may develop prostate cancer subsequently.

It is also important to keep in mind that prostate cancer in dogs typically starts in epithelial cells that line the areas in and around the prostate.

This is why being familiar with the clinical signs—like not ignoring any type of prostatic enlargement or frequent bouts of urinary incontinence—and the possible risk factors should be on your pet care checklist.

Does this disease only affect the prostate gland?

In the case of malignant prostate tumors and prostatic cancer, there is a very big possibility that they will affect other organs if they are not detected early. The abdominal wall and its surrounding tissues may also be impacted.

Prostatic carcinoma (or prostatic adenocarcinoma and similar cancer types of the prostate) has been seen to harm the urinary bladder and the urinary tract. This disease progresses rather quickly and the cancerous cells may also disrupt nearby lymph nodes.

Other cases involving prostatic tumors or prostatic adenocarcinoma may even have urinary obstruction as an initial symptom. Dogs treated with urinary tract infections regularly can be going through these serious health issues as well.

Are only intact male dogs at risk of prostate cancer?

The short answer is no.

Cancer in dogs involving the prostate can affect both intact and neutered males. Additionally, a prostate tumor grows in both intact and neutered male dogs as well. As we've emphasized earlier, infections attacking the urinary tract can also target our male canine friends regardless if they are intact or not.

This is another reason why being familiar with the clinical signs of canine prostate gland cancer and prostate tumors is crucial to help nip these terrible wellness problems in the bud. Another way that will help keep these diseases at bay is by boosting your dog's immune system as early as possible.


Are There Different Types of Canine Prostate Cancer?

dog on leash in the woods

Although this may sound surprising, there are three (3) types of prostate cancer in dogs, namely prostatic carcinoma, prostatic adenocarcinoma, and sarcoma.

The type that gets diagnosed most often is prostatic adenocarcinoma. As for prostatic carcinoma, it can either be in the form of undifferentiated carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Finally, sarcoma is the type that arises from the connective tissue in the prostate. It can be either in the form of leiomyosarcoma or fibrosarcoma.

Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) vs. prostatic carcinoma (PC)

There is also a type of prostate cancer in canines called transitional cell carcinoma or TCC. It is not usually grouped with the other types since it stems from other parts of the body and only affects the prostate eventually. Prostatic carcinomas originally begin in the prostate itself.

However, regardless if TCC or PC, chances are your pet will exhibit the same clinical signs and will have similar corresponding treatment options. Knowing what these are can affect the overall survival time of an affected dog.

Proper diagnosing such as abdominal ultrasound and the like is also essential in these situations.

Examples of these treatment options include radiation therapy, surgical removal, chemotherapy, or a combination of the same. There is even a natural option for pet cancer that you can go for. We will discuss these in detail as we move along.


Is There a Difference Between Canine Prostate Tumors and Prostate Cancer?

dog taking a rest on grass

The short answer is yes.

Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly think, the terms "prostate cancer" and "prostate tumor" are not interchangeable. These are two very distinct health issues affecting a dog's prostate. How about we differentiate these two in this part of our discussion?

Prostate tumor

When you say prostate tumor, it can either be benign or malignant.

"Benign" means that it doesn't have an increased risk of spreading to other parts of the body like the lymph nodes, the gastrointestinal tract, the liver, the lungs, the kidneys, the spleen, and the heart, among others.

Moreover, a tumor can also be referred to as a lump or an abnormal growth. It is important to keep in mind that although a benign tumor will not spread to a different part of a dog's body, this health issue is still going to require proper care and treatment.

Prostate cancer

On the other hand, prostate cancer has to do with abnormal cells dividing and multiplying at a fast rate.

Whether it is prostatic carcinoma, transitional cell carcinoma, prostatic adenocarcinoma, cancer affecting the lymph nodes, or some other organs in a dog's body, these abnormal cells are often the culprits when cancer is concerned.

What's alarming about these cancerous cells is that they can spread to other areas if not staved off during their early stages. It's crucial to keep in mind that the survival time of a dog diagnosed with late-stage prostate cancer can be quite short.

Should your dog show signs of any prostate-related problem like an enlarged prostate, make sure you have him checked for prostatic carcinoma or prostatic adenocarcinoma as soon as possible just to be safe.

Regardless of the treatment options that you may go for, prostatic carcinoma, prostatic adenocarcinoma, as well as similar cancers of the prostate in dogs can be rather challenging to get rid of when it has already progressed into an advanced disease.

A prostate tumor always turns into prostate cancer, right?

The short answer is no.

As we've explained previously, a tumor grows either benign or malignant in nature. In the case of the former, it will not progress into prostate cancer like prostatic adenocarcinoma. On the other hand, if it is a malignant tumor, this disease progresses subsequently into cancer in dogs.

Moreover, it is crucial to take note that regardless if it is a benign or malignant tumor, immediate and proper veterinary medicine-based thorough physical examination and similar strategies should be provided as soon as possible.

Besides coming up with a definitive diagnosis, this is also required to prevent the whole thing from getting worse sooner or later.

Detecting cancer in dogs involving the prostate when it has already progressed significantly almost always leads to a poor prognosis, which simply means a very low chance of recovery and median survival time.

Is benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) the same as prostate cancer?

The short answer is no.

Both benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer share a common trait: an enlarged prostate in dogs, which usually turns up as a urinary obstruction. It is one of the most notable clinical signs that these two health issues have a similarity.

However, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a type of tumor that will only stay in a particular area of the prostate, while prostate cancer—such as prostatic carcinoma and prostatic adenocarcinoma—will spread to other parts of a dog's body.


What Causes Prostate Cancer In Dogs?

dog looking up

Even with all the developments in modern medical science we've had all these years, veterinary oncologists still haven't pinpointed a single exact cause of prostate cancer in dogs like in the case of prostatic adenocarcinoma and similar serious diseases.

Are there possible risk factors for this disease?

What's interesting about cancer in dogs involving the prostate is that there are particular "risk factors" you need to keep in mind. These factors tend to give dogs an increased risk of being susceptible to this serious health problem.

We will give you a quick run-through of what these are in this part of our discussion:

Age is one aspect that is considered to make a dog more prone to cancer of the prostate. If your pooch is already more than eight (8) years old, his immune responses won't be that quick and sharp when it comes to keeping disease and illness at bay.

Environmental factors can involve diet as well as exposure to certain substances like household chemicals such as oven cleaners, asbestos, antifreeze, benzene, and harsh detergents, which may affect a dog's susceptibility to prostate cancer. The lack of vitamins and antioxidants in your pet's diet can also have the same outcome.

Breed and genetics are also seen to be risk factors when prostate cancer in dogs is concerned. Pedigrees like Doberman Pinschers, Beagles, Miniature Poodles, Norwegian Elkhounds, Airedale Terriers, German Shorthaired Pointers, Scottish Terriers, Shetland Sheepdogs, as well as Bouvier des Flandres, seem to be diagnosed with this disease more compared to other breeds.


What are the Clinical Signs of Prostate Cancer in Dogs?

dog and its owner on a hike

Diagnosing cancer in dogs involving the prostate can be rather tricky since its symptoms may be similar to other health problems that disrupt the urinary bladder. These clinical signs tend to affect a dog's "bathroom habits," or their urination and bowel movements. 

Here are the more common symptoms of prostate cancer (as well as tumors) in dogs to keep an eye out for:

  • Frequent urination

  • Urinary incontinence

  • Painful urination or bowel movements

  • Bloody urine

  • Fatigue/lethargy

  • Weight loss/decreased appetite

If your dog is exhibiting these clinical signs, make sure to get him checked out right away! Even if it’s not a prostate cancer diagnosis, some of these signs can point to a different type of cancer or other health concerns.

Always remember that the earlier you detect prostate cancer and prostate tumors in dogs, the faster your pet will receive the necessary treatment. This will greatly affect on your dog's survival time and overall quality of life.

Just a quick heads up, though. During an exam at the vet, they will look for signs that the prostate is firm or irregular, or has swollen lymph nodes. For the next part of our discussion, we will tackle the ways how prostate cancer is diagnosed in dogs.


How is Prostate Cancer in Dogs Diagnosed?

happy looking dog

Several tests and procedures are used to determine if a dog is afflicted with prostate cancer. You can find them below along with a short description of how they are performed:

  • Rectal palpation or rectal examination involves a careful inspection of a dog's rectum to check for any lumps, bumps, and similar indicators of the presence of disease, particularly cancer of the prostate. A rectal exam usually involves having a "feel" of the abdominal walls.

  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is another test used to find out if prostate cancer is present. It involves using a very fine needle to extract some tissue samples, which are then checked by a veterinary pathologist. While fine needle aspiration and biopsy may be rather similar in application, the latter uses a much wider needle compared to the former.

  • An abdominal ultrasound pertains to the use of controlled sound waves to create a digital image of the abdomen, the prostate, as well as the neighboring organs. Moreover, an abdominal ultrasound may also be utilized to check for the possible metastasis of prostate cancer in dogs.

  • A computer tomography scan (also referred to as CAT scan or CT scan) is a type of medical imaging that uses X-rays to take a "look" at the prostate and if cancer is present. Depending on the veterinary oncologist and your pet's medical records, either a computer tomography scan or an abdominal ultrasound may be opted for.

We'd just like to reiterate that a dog's chances of overcoming prostate cancer are much higher if it is detected early. Regardless of how "minor" you may think the symptoms are, make sure you consult with a pet wellness expert or a vet as soon as possible. It is crucial to keep in mind that your canine best friend's survival time may depend on it.

Canine Prostate Cancer: Life Expectancy

Life expectancy for dogs with prostate cancer depends a lot on how big the affected area is, how severe it is, and if it has already spread to other areas of the body. Because this cancer tends to be aggressive,  life expectancy can be as little as one month after diagnosis or as much as 2 years.

To extend life expectancy, it is important to reduce the risk of further tumor spread, and also reduce the chances of a secondary infection. Choosing the most viable treatment option for your dog is also a priority during this time.


What are the Conventional Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer in Canines?

pug taking a rest on the streets

The conventional treatment options used for prostate cancer in dogs include surgical removal, chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy or radiation treatment. We've outlined them below so you can check out each one:


Surgery is perhaps the most popular treatment recourse for canine prostate cancer. It is technically called prostatectomy and may involve the partial or total removal of the prostate. Besides cancer of the prostate, surgical removal may also be used in cases of benign prostatic hyperplasia or BHP.


At its simplest, chemotherapy is a treatment option that utilizes a combination of drugs to get rid of abnormal cells that are dividing and growing much too quickly. This is often administered via intravenous injection. Apart from being aimed at treating cancer, chemotherapy is also used for palliative care as well as in cases of prostate tumors.

Radiation therapy or radiation treatment

Radiation therapy or radiation therapy—also known as radiotherapy—makes use of powerful ionizing energy to remove cancer cells and keep them from growing. While X-ray is often utilized for this type of prostate cancer treatment, proton radiation is also a variety available for this type of treatment.


Do Conventional Treatment Options for Prostatic Carcinomas and the Like Have Adverse Side Effects?

The short answer is yes.

Partial or total surgery for prostate cancer can lead to postoperative complications like urinary incontinence and "leakage" for your dog. As for chemotherapy, side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, and nausea can be expected.

Moreover, radiation therapy can cause skin discoloration and bald patches in the areas where the energy used for the treatment is focused. These adverse side effects can become more intense, particularly among older dogs.

Is there a natural support product for canine prostatic adenocarcinoma and similar issues?

Yes, there is a natural product that can help support your canine companion when prostate cancer strikes. And you don't have to worry about adverse side effects, too! We're going to introduce this alternative option to you in the next part of our blog post.


Piptopet is a Natural Product You Should Consider for Prostate Cancer in Dogs

Dog taking a rest by a flower field

Traditional cancer treatments normally recommended by vets, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, generally aren’t recommended for prostate cancer in dogs. Depending on your pup’s specific circumstances, your vet might recommend a treatment called NSAIDs, or Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. 

It’s a tough decision to choose a treatment plan, because there is lots of information to consider, and you want to research the benefits and risks of each option. I know you want to find the best treatment available for your pet - and so do we!

An alternative option you should have in your dog care checklist during prostate cancer

We are dedicated to researching, producing, and providing natural products that are useful for pet parents and their beloved companions. We have used our over 20 years of experience to create PIPTOPET, a natural product specifically designed to help your pup during his fight against cancer!

This product is made with a medicinal mushroom that has been found to have anti-cancer properties and can be used on your dog. As a pet parent, you want to avoid recurrences and secondary infections. 

PIPTOPET is made with a gentle, holistic touch so that your cat or dog can have the quality of life and protection you’ve always hoped for. The natural ingredients in this product take a fresh perspective in attacking unhealthy cells without the use of chemicals that can build up in your pet’s body.

Besides helping boost your dog's overall immune system health, this product also does not have any adverse side effects when used as part of your pet's treatment plan for cancer of the prostate. Why don't you check out PIPTOPET right now?


About the author

Denise Lessard
Denise Lessard


Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.

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