All intact (not neutered or not castrated) male dogs are more prone to prostate problems as a result of the effects of testosterone (male hormone) on this gland over time. The testosterone most commonly leads to benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in older male dogs.
Dog BPH Symptoms
This condition results in an enlargement of the gland that as the name suggests (benign), is not a truly cancerous condition. The enlarged gland however, tends to be more prone to infections (prostatitis) because the blood flow through the enlarged gland tissue area is less efficient, and if bacteria lodge here, the infection can be difficult to control and clear.
The gland of an intact male dog is known to be more susceptible to cancer. This has been confirmed in scientific studies, and because of the delicate location of this gland around the junction of the bladder and the urethra (the tube leading to the outside via the penis), the cancers can be difficult to control or cure in this location.
You are obviously a responsible pet owner, and have been careful about preventing unwanted litters by keeping your male away from females. Unless you have firm plans to use this animal in a formal breeding program, the best prevention strategy for prostate problems is the surgery (castration).
Dog BPH Treatments
Many owners express concerns about surgery and anesthesia for their pets; this is a natural response. Dog lovers want to do the best for their “best friend”, and need reassurance about surgery and the attendant risks. Your veterinary team can go over the steps involved, and many facilities will let you tour their establishment so that you can become familiar with the advanced medicine and surgery suites that they offer, and the focused care that they provide.
There is no such thing as zero risk for any procedure, anesthetic, medication, or other intervention, but with modern medicine, we are proud of, and have a great deal of confidence in our current level of practice. Most practices use the same anesthetic agents, equipment, and many of the monitoring systems that your own physician would use in a human hospital. Veterinary technicians (nurses) that assist the veterinarian during the procedure and anesthetic are highly trained paraprofessionals (look for AHT, RVT etc. on their name tag for proof of their certification).
The surgery itself is not a long one. The average procedure would take 10-20 minutes, and complications are rare. With proper post-operative rest and care, the chance of a problem is very low indeed. Most practices will see the dog back for a “post-op” check in 7-10 days, and during that early healing phase, they are especially willing and able to address any questions or concerns that might arise.
The risk of a routine surgery is very low, and it would not be considered an endangerment to health to make this decision on a dog’s behalf. It is often helpful to review information, and discuss the decision further with the health care team before making the final decision. The potential devastation from possible future prostate problems would be generally viewed as a much more worrisome scenario than a sterile surgical procedure performed in a modern veterinary practice by an experienced veterinary surgeon and their support team.