Canine Bladder Cancer
The most commonly diagnosed type of cancer found in the dog’s bladder is transitional cell carcinoma. This is a life-threatening malignant tumor. This kind of cancer generally grows from the inner surface of the urethra or the urinary bladder. However, it can also arise from the urinary tract. This type of cancer makes up about .5 percent of the cancers found in dogs.
The cause of canine bladder cancer, or transitional cell carcinoma, is not known. However, it is believed that carcinogens excreted in the urine may play a role in causing this cancer. These carcinogens may include dips used to kill ticks and fleas, sprays to kill mosquitoes, and even certain drugs to treat cancer and immune system diseases.
Canine bladder cancer can occur in any breed or mix but it seems to be found more often in Wirehaired Fox Terriers, Beagles, West Highland White Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Shetland Sheepdogs. Female dogs are more likely to get bladder cancer than male dogs. Neutered dogs are more likely to get bladder cancer than dogs that remain intact. Dogs that are overweight are also at higher risk.
Symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Blood in the urine
- Difficulty breathing
- Exercise intolerance
- Straining to urinate
- Straining while defecating
- Urinating more often, but only small amounts
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms you need to see your vet. Tests should be done to find out if your dog has cancer and what kind of cancer it might be.
Your vet will need to have a complete health history for your dog as well as making a physical exam of your dog. Your dog will need to have a rectal exam so your vet can check the dog’s urethra, parts of the bladder, and the prostate gland in the male. X-rays will be needed to see if the tumor has spread to any other places in your dog’s body. Urinalysis and blood tests will also be needed. Depending on the kind of technology your vet has available, there are also some other tests that can be done to measure the bladder tumor and identify exactly where it is. You may need to arrange to see a specialist or visit a university veterinary college for some of these tests.
Your vet will discuss treatment options with you or he or she may refer you to a cancer specialist. There are several different ways of treating bladder cancer in dogs. If the tumor is limited to a small area then surgery is often recommended. Chemotherapy is another option. Drug therapy is another option. The drug Feldene, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory also known as piroxicam, has been used with some success in treating transitional cell carcinoma.
Bladder cancer is life-threatening unless it is treated. If it is not treated the tumor can block the urinary tract and your dog will not be able to urinate. This alone could kill him. This kind of cancer is also very likely to spread to other parts of the body. About half the time this kind of cancer is diagnosed, it has already spread to other parts of the body. Your dog’s ability to overcome bladder cancer will depend on where the tumor is located, whether it has spread, and what kind of treatment your dog can take and how effective it is. Some dogs can live more than a year after diagnosis with the right treatment.