Canine Bladder Cancer

Canine bladder cancer is not one of the more common types of cancer afflicting dogs. In fact, it only accounts for roughly 1% of all diagnosed cases of canine cancer; however, that does not make bladder cancer in dogs any less severe. Typically, canine bladder cancer only has about a 50% prognosis once a dog is diagnosed, meaning that dog owners need should be informed about this type of cancer and of the signs so that appropriate medical attention can be sought.

Transitional Cell Carcinoma

There are few different types of canine bladder cancer, but none seem to be more prevalent than that of transitional cell carcinoma. Biologically speaking, there are two ureters in the canine body, one extending from each kidney into the urinary bladder where urine is emptied for elimination. Transitional cell carcinoma is characteristic for developing at tumor at the neck of the bladder where the ureters enter, essentially making them nonfunctional. Because it takes time for this type of tumor to grow, the onset of symptoms is usually not seen until the cancer is very far advanced.

Causes of Canine Bladder Cancer

The veterinary jury is still out on the true cause of transitional cell carcinoma or any other type of canine bladder cancer. However, there does appear to be certain links that many experts believe can be associated with the development of canine bladder cancer.

The controversy over chemical and pesticide exposure is still raging, but studies have shown that insecticide dips for flea and tick prevention have a direct link to bladder cancer in dogs. The reason for this is basic: the chemical from the insecticide is absorbed by the skin, absorbed into the bloodstream, and eventually carried throughout the urinary system for urinary elimination. As the insecticide chemicals are carried through the bladder, it is thought that they have the potential to change the composition of the cells lining the bladder, making them cancerous.

There also appears to be both a genetic link and a gender link towards canine bladder cancer, with some breeds being more prone than others and females being more susceptible than males. Some of the more high-profile breeds for developing canine bladder cancer include Beagles, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Scottish Terriers.

Signs and Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Because of the danger and poor prognosis for canine bladder cancer, it is imperative to be on the lookout for any of the following signs, which could indicate cancer of the bladder:

  • Increased urination with decreased output
  • Painful appearance of urination
  • Blood-tinged urine
  • Excessive fatigue or reduced stamina during normal activities
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment Plans for Canine Bladder Cancer

The diagnosis for this type of cancer is poor at only 50% after diagnosis. The main reason for this is because the symptoms usually do not become very apparent until the cancer has been allowed to metastasize and spread, usually to other areas of the body. However, if the cancer can be caught early enough, there are some treatment options that may help, including:

  • Surgical removal of the urinary tumor. It is important to note that not all areas of the bladder are operable, so this treatment plan will be dependent upon the precise location of the cancer
  • Chemotherapy