Odin, a 9-year-old, intact (i.e. not neutered) pit bull, was extremely sick when he arrived at LRVSS.
He was weak, unable to urinate and straining to defecate. A catheter had to be used repeatedly to drain his bladder. This is a temporary solution since it can cause a bladder infection.
An ultrasound of his belly showed the reason for the pain and the sickness: an enlarged prostate, along with a cyst attached to it (para-prostatic cyst).
Because we cannot safely remove the prostate in a dog without risking serious complications (including urinary incontinence), surgery was recommended to drain the abscess
Despite the obvious risks, we put Odin under general anesthesia.
After opening his belly up, we found an 8 inch (20 cm) in diameter cyst around the prostate.
We drained half a quart or half a liter (500 ml) of yucky brownish pus.
Because of the huge number of blood vessels, and therefore because of the risk of bleeding, we decided not to try to remove the cyst. It also would have taken a long time, whereas our goal was to minimize the duration of anesthesia in this very sick patient.
So in order to prevent the pus from building back up, we used a drain.
Rather than a plastic tube, we used a “membrane” that lives in the belly, called the omentum. It’s a wonderful organ that is rich in lymphatic vessels and had been shown to be very effective at draining badness.
So we made holes in the cyst, fed the omentum through them, and stitched it to itself.
This also allowed us to take biopsies and a culture (a sterile swab).
Fortunately, this was Odin’s only problem: all other organs in the belly looked healthy.
The second important part of the surgery was to neuter Odin, in order to shrink the prostate and decrease the chance of another issue.
We also removed his “sac” (or scrotum) because… well… it’s not exactly pretty when it’s empty in a 9-year-old…
Odin recovered smoothly from anesthesia, and eventually went home to rest and heal for 1 month.
A few days after surgery, Odin’s owner reported that his dog was eating and drinking well, and his belly seemed less distended. This was a good first report so soon after surgery.
One week later, the biopsy came back as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), along with an abscess. BPH is a very common condition in older, intact (i.e. not neutered) dogs. This also happens to be one of the conditions that can cause older gentlemen to strain to urinate.
The culture showed not one but 2 bacteria, both common causes of bladder infections: a staph & Enterococcus.
6 weeks after surgery, Odin’s family vet kindly sent an update – and a wonderful one: Odin was doing well overall. His prostate had shrunk considerably – by about 50%. He was able to pee and poop.
Unfortunately, there was still a bladder infection, this time with an E. coli.
8 weeks after surgery, Odin’s owner reported that his dog was about 90% back to normal. And he was happy with the end result.
Even though Odin was extremely sick before surgery and was a high-risk anesthesia candidate, he was lucky to “make it.”
The fact is, this could have been avoided by neutering Odin early in life. Most vets recommend neutering around 6 months of age. Now, I realize that this is a touchy topic that comes with a lot of psychological and emotional issues.
I am simply stating facts. After a male dog is neutered, the prostate shrinks and that eliminate several conditions altogether. The only risk that is slightly increased, despite what we used to believe, is prostate cancer. Then again, this is extremely rare in dogs.
So, weighing the pros and the cons, the recommendation is still to neuter early in life. It could save a dog’s life (for more reasons to neuter a dog, click here: https://www.drphilzeltzman.com/blog/top-10-reasons-to-neuter-your-pet/).
If you would like to learn how we can help your pet with safe surgery and anesthesia, please contact us through www.LRVSS.com
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Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified