Bladder Tumors in Dogs

Bladder tumors in dogs may be either malignant or benign. However, the majority of the tumors found in canines are malignant, namely carcinomas. The formation of bladder tumors has been associated with an unsuitable diet, but the origins of bladder tumors are not fully known. Bladder tumors are dangerous, especially if they're malignant, and because they're difficult to remove due to their location.

Causes of Canine Bladder Tumors

Tumors may be made up of various cells, some benign, some cancerous. The real origins of tumors are not completely identified, but scientists believe they may form due to a diet that is rich in fats and carcinogenic substances. Dogs that are obese are more likely to develop bladder tumors, as are female dogs. The bladder tumors are typically identified after the age of 5, but most commonly in senior dogs, after the age of 8.

Symptoms of Bladder Tumors

The bladder tumors will form on the surface or other zones of the bladder. The symptoms may be present or may be very subtle, depending on where the tumor is located. If symptoms are present, these will include:

  • Pain when urinating or straining to urinate
  • Inappropriate urination (i.e., in the house)
  • Foul smelling urine
  • Different color of urine (orange or pink due to blood)
  • Increased frequency of urination, with urine in lower amounts
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Uremia, in the worst case scenario, when the tumor is located in a position that blocks the access of urine to the urethra. If the dog doesn't urinate for more than 48 hours, he has uremia, which can be very dangerous, as the toxins are not eliminated from his body

Similar symptoms will accompany conditions such as urinary tract infections, bladder polyps or cysts, so a proper diagnosis is needed.

Bladder Tumor Diagnosis

The dog should have a general examination plus a few blood tests, ultrasounds or x-rays, which will give the vet the exact location of the tumor. A cell biopsy will be performed, to determine if the tumor is made up of cancerous cells.

Treatment for Canine Bladder Tumors

If the bladder tumor is benign and doesn't block the urethra, the vet may decide not to act in any way, but periodical tests will be performed to ensure the pet stays healthy. If the tumor is malignant, the vet will establish whether surgery is possible. Surgery is possible if the tumor isn't extended or if it's located on an area of the bladder that can be operated on without risks.

When the cancer is extended or surgery is not possible, the dog can benefit from chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The dog should also receive a modified diet that will contain natural ingredients with no artificial additives. The prognosis is poor if surgery is not possible. However, even if the pet undergoes surgery, the recurrence of the tumor is still possible, so he will have to receive medication and be monitored.