Let’s talk about Prostatitis and how it can affect your Stud Male
Breeders have probably heard about Prostatitis and Prostatic disease in male dogs, but have no real idea of the real about impact it can have upon Breeding Programmes.
How might you detect it?
There might be physical signs like straining to pass faeces and classically passing ribbon like soft stools. Or perhaps blood in the urine or dripping from the penis/sheath.
More related to reproduction – you may simply find your Stud mates one or more bitches and they don’t become pregnant, when previously he has had good fertility. He may become totally un-interested in bitches in season.
Or, you find that you choose to semen evaluate your stud and find the sample is immediately brown/ bloody on collection.
These signs point to Prostatic Problems – Often chronic, sometimes acute.
These affected dogs have systemic signs of actual illness – high temperatures, off food, perhaps a hunched stance, difficulty walking and blood in urine. Inflamed prostate glands are sore on rectal examination, enlarged and inflamed.
This is often silent and insidious, perhaps with no signs except infertility. The prostate is often shrunken, firm causing low grade chronic urinary problems and discharge. It may have been brewing for months. The male may just perhaps be a little less keen to breed. There may be reduced fertility due to incomplete ejaculation due to pain or diminished fertility due to the changed ejaculate.
An important clue is there is often Blood at the end of urination.
Where is the prostate?
In the diagram, note that the prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits at the neck of the bladder, with the urethra ( Urine tube) running through it.
An enlarged prostate can happen with prostatitis in the dog. It has detrimental effects on fertility
Diagram of the canine prostate and its relation to bladder and testes.
Picture courtesy of www.peteducation.com
When the prostate enlarges, it can push on the bowel (Colon) and so can cause problems passing faeces.
You can see from its position near the bladder, how importantly linked the prostate and bladder are. Hence signs can be linked to urination.
When the stud dog ejaculates, semen must pass through the prostate from the testes where it is made, being flushed along with prostatic fluid. Importantly if the Stud has prostate problems , or a leaky bladder, then diseased prostatic fluid or urine leaking into a collection can be detrimental to Sperm survival .
It is important that we address such problems before the dog becomes permanently infertile. With semen collection for chilled or frozen inseminations, we can spin off prostatic fluids, and even urine from collections and replace with healthy buffer fluid that can help sperm survival.
What causes Prostatitis?
Bacteria are the commonest cause of inflammation and infection. These include Staphylococci, Streptococci and E coli.
Bacterial culture is useful in prostatitis.
Important causes are Brucella canis (not in the UK, but can be important in international dogs; some countries require blood testing clear of this before accepting semen). Similarly for mycoplasma and herpes virus.
Testosterone levels are also a factor. These are normally found in all entire stud dogs. Testosterone can naturally cause propstatic hyperplasia and such enlargement is also a background factor for prostatitis.
What do you see on a semen sample?
A brown coloured collection is immediately obvious, with watery semen and no clear identification of the second, sperm rich sample.
On semen testing the sample may have a high pH, and low sperm numbers, which are choked in the poor quality fluid. When the pellet of sperm is spun down, this is often dark reddy brown, rather than cream and of small volume.
Large amount of blood in a collection make it unsuitable for freezing.
How do you treat?
Chronic prostatitis requires a committed breeder to help the dog and several months of attention. Some dogs may not regain fertility. The majority will need to consider Artificial Insemination to breed from now on.
Diagnose the condition as above, perhaps with the help of blood tests and especially ultrasound scanning of the prostate. Rule out neoplasia.
Aims must be to clear out all the diseased prostatic fluid and cells and restart sperm production which is held up by the diseased prostate in many ways.
Repeat collections every few days are encouraged to eliminate fluid and blood and any granulomas stopping sperm flow. ( there is opportunity to culture collections if need be).
Instigate antibiotic therapy. Often fluoroquinolones are a good choice since they can achieve high levels in prostatic fluid, but veterinary advice is important. These may be needed for weeks.
Medical treatment of prostatitis requires antibiotics and testosterone hormone blockers
Consider adding in a drug called Osaterone acetate (one brand name is Ypozane, by Virbac) which is a 7 day course of tablets, which can shrink the prostate by over 40 % within 2 weeks, reducing the extent of its negative effects quickly. It lasts for 6 months. Importantly it has NO effects upon male libido or fertility, infact it must improve it.
Monitor the semen collected from affected males and you should always consider chilled (or perhaps frozen) insemination from now on , where the prostatic fluid from a collection can be removed and replaced by healthy fluid that encourages sperm survival.