Canine Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Canine bladder cancer diagnosis is based on a tissue biopsy, which can be performed in several ways. Additional tests may be required in order to rule out other possible diseases. Before proceeding to the diagnosis, however, the veterinarian needs to make a correlation between the symptoms exhibited by your dog and the health condition.

Symptoms of Canine Bladder Cancer

Dogs suffering from bladder cancer will present the following clinical signs:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Frequent passage of small quantities of urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Straining while defecating

However, these symptoms also correspond to such health conditions as:

  • Bladder infection
  • Bladder inflammation
  • Bladder stones
  • Growths in the bladder

In order to identify correctly the health condition, the veterinarian will need to perform a diagnosis.

Canine Bladder Cancer Diagnosis

Even though tissue biopsy provides the most accurate results, other tests may be needed in order to exclude other diseases that affect the bladder. These tests include:

  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Analysis of the urine
  • Complete blood cell count
  • Contrast dye X-ray studies
  • Cytology examination of urine
  • Serum biochemistry
  • Urethrocystoscopy
  • V-TBA
  • X-rays of the abdominal area and the chest

The veterinarian will also need to know the complete medical history of your dog before performing these tests. A physical examination that includes a rectal exam is also required. Palpating the bladder neck, local lymph nodes, prostate gland and urethra will help the veterinarian conclude if the bladder is affected or if the symptoms pertain to another medical problem. 

Diagnosis Tests Explained

Each of the tests included in this diagnosis focuses on detecting the tumor, on measuring it or on finding out its effects on the surrounding organs. Abdominal ultrasound examination is necessary for determining the location and the size of the tumor. In addition, this test gives an idea about the state of the lymph nodes. Ultrasounds are also used for cases when the tumor obstructs the urinary tract.

Urinalysis, on the other hand, provides results regarding the:

  • Bacteria
  • Red cell count
  • Tumor cells
  • White cell count

A bladder tumor will affect the blood cell count, which will be observed in the urine, but also after performing a complete blood cell count. A cytology examination is also effective for evaluating the presence of tumor cells in the urine.

Contrast dye X-ray studies can be performed instead of the abdominal ultrasound. After doing this test, the veterinarian will know where the tumor is located and whether it has extended to the surrounding organs.

Serum biochemistry is one of the tests performed in the beginning of the diagnosis. It is required for determining the general health of your dog. The body systems will be examined, as well as the metabolic consequences of urinary obstruction. If the urine cannot be passed correctly, the toxins and the excess of minerals remain in the body, which affects the dog's overall health.

Before performing urethrocystoscopy, the veterinarian will anesthetize your dog, so no pain is felt during the procedure. A scope that is either flexible or rigid is introduced in the urethra and bladder. The goal of the test is to evaluate the location of the tumor and its extent. The tissue sample that has been extracted needs to be examined in order to confirm the diagnosis. Other methods of doing the biopsy include surgery and biopsy via a urinary catheter.

V-TBA is one of the most recent tests included in canine bladder cancer diagnosis. It implies the detection of bladder tumor markers in the urine. This test is appreciated for helping veterinarians detect bladder cancer in the early stages.

The X-rays of the abdominal area will reveal any abnormal masses, as well as the growth of the lymph nodes. If the veterinarian suspects that the cancer has spread to the surrounding organs, then X-rays for the chest are also necessary.