Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Prostate gland: clinical examination

Contributor(s): Jeanne Barsanti, Autumn P Davidson, Delmar Finco


Intrarectal digital palpation

  • Intrarectal digital palpation + pressure applied transabdominally.
  • Normal prostate is bilobed, smooth and firm; about 3-5 cm wide, 1.5-2.5 cm caudocranial length.
  • Small in castrated dogs.
  • Enlargement: potentially neoplastic.
  • Enlargement expected with age in intact males - should be symmetric, non-painful.

Semen collection and evaluation

  • Semen collection and evaluation Semen: evaluation.
  • Prostate gland is the only significant source of seminal plasma.


  • Clear.
  • Occasional neutrophils and very few bacteria on the semen smear.
  • Sperm numbers and morphology should be normal.
  • Hemospermia may be present with benign hyperplasia.


  • Increase in the neutrophil and bacteria population.
  • Many gram-negative or gram-positive bacteria will be seen.
  • Standard culture for: common causes, eg E.coliStaphylococcus aureus.
  • Sperm motility often compromised.
  • Special culture for: Mycoplasma spp may be involved requiring special culture media.
  • Urethral quantitative culture may be indicated to differentiate normal flora.

Prostatic washes/'brush' technique

  • If dog will not ejaculate because of pain or psychological reasons.
  • Obtain prostatic secretion after massaging the prostate per rectum.
  • Simple but are more costly and time consuming than semen collection.
    Collect urine beforehand to exclude concurrent cystitis and other urinary tract infections.

Transabdominal aspiration

  • Ultrasound-guided transabdominal aspiration.
    If a prostatic abscess is sampled -> seed along the sampling tract -> peritonitis; if neoplasia, sampling can -> metastasis (unlikely clinically).Ultrasound-guided aspiration very useful.

Exploratory laporatory

  • If neoplasia, a prostatic cyst or a large prostatic abscess is suspected.
  • Non-neoplastic and neoplastic structures can be sampled more accurately and safely.
  • Metastasis of prostatic adenocarcinomas can also be assessed.

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Kamolpatana K, Johnston G R & Johnston S D (2000) Determination of canine prostatic volume using transabdominal ultrasonography. Vet Rad Ultra 41 (1), 73-77 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Feldman E C & Nelson R W (1996) Prostatitis. In: Canine and Feline Endocrinology and Reproduction.London: W B Saunders, Chapter 28. (A recent review of prostatic disease.)
  • Barsanti J A & Finco D R (1986) Canine prostatic disease. In: Reproduction and Periparturient Care.Ed: C A Johnson. Veterinary Clinics of North America 13, pp 587-599. (These authors have a great deal of clinical experience in this area.)