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Bladder Cancer In Dogs – Symptoms & Treatments

Bladder Cancer In Dogs

What is Bladder Cancer In Dogs?

Canine Bladder cancer is one of those diseases that never give pet parents any forewarning that things are going to get quite awful for their dogs. Dogs that have bladder cancer should be diagnosed properly as they can be misdiagnosed as a urinary tract infection or kidney infection.

Your dog's urinary tract has kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra. The urinary bladder is by far the most common place for cancer to develop.

Bladder cancer is much more common in dogs than in cats. There are several types of bladder cancers. Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC -urothelial carcinoma) is the most common type of urinary bladder cancer.

Bladder cancer accounts for 2% of all reported cancers in dogs. In that, almost 70% of the bladder tumors are transitional cell carcinomas.

TCC is a tumor of urothelial cells that line the inside of theurinary bladder in the lower urinary tract. At the time of diagnosis, almost 20% of dogs with bladder cancer have metastases.

Symptoms Of Bladder Cancer In Dogs

Bladder cancer in dogs can be rather challenging to make a diagnosis as most of the common symptoms mimic those of urinary tract conditions.

Common symptoms of canine bladder cancer include:

  • Difficult/painful urination
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Blood in the urine

Early Stages

  • Painful urination
  • Redness or swelling at the penis tip or vulva
  • Frequent urination/ Urinary incontinence
  • Discolored/bloody urine
  • Decreased appetite
  • Licking the penis or vulva

Late Stages

  • Early-stage symptoms persistent for a long time
  • Urine scalding (urine burn due to skin irritation from persistent contact with urine)
  • Weight loss
  • Possible constipation
  • Anorexia
  • Difficulty sitting and walking
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Reclusive behavior
  • Constant pacing
  • Exercise intolerance

Emergency — Immediate Veterinary Assistance Needed

  • Sudden collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Profuse bleeding—internal or external
  • Extended seizures
  • Uncontrollable diarrhea/ vomiting
  • Crying/whining from pain

It should be noted that most dogs are notoriously good at hiding their pain.

When it goes out of the ordinary for your dog and pain has become too much for them to bear, dogs tend to vocalize by crying or whining

So when your pet vocalizes due to anxiety or pain, time to seek advice from your veterinarian immediately.

Treatment Options For Bladder Cancer In Dogs

When your dog is diagnosed with bladder cancer your vet may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these treatments.

The full surgical removal of the tumor is typically not possible due to the location of bladder tumors. While in some cases laser ablation may be possible to remove part of the tumor (“debulking”) in order to alleviate your dog's symptoms temporarily.

Nevertheless, it's important for pet owners to understand that the cancer will relapse after some time.

Home Remedies For Bladder Cancer In Dogs

As with any disease, the prognosis is dependent on the extent of the disease, its location and the treatment chosen. Discuss about home treatments with your vet to ensure they’re won’t mess with other medications.

This may include dietary changes, exercise, supplements to administer and other holistic treatments

How to Prevent Bladder Cancer In Dogs?

Modifiable risk factors for the prevention of bladder cancer

  1. Bladder cancer can be prevented by avoiding a few lifestyle behaviors.
  2. One of the most significant changes you can make is reducing the carcinogenic exposure such as pesticides, secondary smoking, and other chemicals
  3. Engine exhaust, Asbestos sheets (roof shingles, ceiling tiles) we use is a potential carcinogens.
  4. Industrial pollution and chemicals (arsenic, plastic, leather, textiles, dyes). Stay away from these carcinogenic risks.
  5. Provide an organic, healthy diet with fruits and vegetables

The CADET Braf Test

The CADET Braf test is a non-invasive urine test that helps vets to detect the presence of a (V595E) in the canine BRAF gene mutation that is linked to transitional cell carcinoma in the prostate and bladder (in 80% of dogs).

Sample: 40 mL of free catch urine (not catheterized or cystocentesis urine)

To help facilitate early intervention and treatment, the assay can be helpful in detecting bladder cancer before symptoms become obvious with only 5% of results being false negatives (with the extra Cadet BRAF-Plus test).

Affected Dog Breeds Of Bladder Cancer

Shetland Sheepdog, Scottish Terrier, Wire Fox Terrier, West Highland Terrier, Beagle, Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, Lhasa Apso, Parson Russell Terrier, Rat Terrier, Jack Russell Terrier

Additional Facts For Bladder Cancer In Dogs

1. Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is the most common type of urinary bladder cancer. Other less common types of tumors of the bladder may include Adenocarcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, fibrosarcomas, leiomyosarcomas, and other soft tissue tumors.

2. TCC can also appear in the urethra, kidney, ureters, vagina, or prostate. It can metastasize (spread) to bones, kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes, and/or other organs.

3. Why this cancer is called a Transitional Cell Carcinoma? Is Something in Transition?

The urinary bladder is lined with transitional epithelium cells. The multi-layered, stratified transitional epithelial cells, is a tissue that is capable of contracting and stretching to house variable volumes of fluid passing through the structures they line (urinary bladder, urethra, ureters, etc). This, in turn, decreases the frequency with which you need to go to the restroom.

4. Apart from hereditary disposition, the exact cause of bladder cancer is unknown Risk factors include lawn chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, nitrosamines, cyclophosphamide, obesity, and living in an industrial location.

When To See A Vet For Bladder Cancer In Dogs?

Dogs have the best chance of surviving when bladder cancer is identified before the start (survival rates can be 80 percent). Even if it is diagnosed at its earliest stages, many dogs with bladder cancer will survive for 6-12 months with appropriate treatment.

Dog Food Suggestions For Bladder Cancer

Again, oncologists say no one diet suits all dogs with cancer.

Vets’ dietary decisions are based on a dog's type of cancer, any other conditions of the pet, and overall health.

  • Reduce the carb intake of your dog.
  • Foods that are often high on their lists for cancer-fighting properties are Organic, high-protein, and cruciferous foods
  • Generally, all ingredients should be fresh, easily digested, highly palatable with a good smell, and should be highly bioavailable.

The ratio would be:

35 to 50 percent protein + less than 25 percent carbs + 25 to 35 percent fat (including omega-3 fatty acids and arginine)

Some of the most popular include:

  • Fresh, organic meats, either raw or cooked
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Organ Meat
  • Broccoli
  • Dark-green, leafy vegetables like spinach
  • Eggs
  • Antioxidant berries
  • Omega 3 fatty acid foods (Sardines, Mackerel, Herring, etc)


For dogs with bladder cancer, the long-term prognosis is generally poor, regardless of treatment. Dogs can have an improved quality of life for a period of time with proper treatment.

Usually, dogs with bladder cancer may live 3-6 months without treatment, and median survival time improves to 6-12 months with treatment.

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