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Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Dogs & Available Treatments

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Dogs & Available Treatments

Within your dog's urinary system, the bladder is the most common place for cancer to develop. Today our Cordova veterinary specialists share some of the possible causes of bladder cancer in dogs, as well as symptoms and available treatments for the disease.

Breeds With Increased Risk of Bladder Cancer

While any breed of dog can develop bladder cancer, a genetic predisposition may be a risk factor since the disease is seen in Scottish Terriers far more than any other breed of dog. Beagles, Shetland sheepdogs, West Highland terriers, and wire hair fox terriers also appear to face an increased risk of developing bladder cancer. Bladder cancer is most often diagnosed in middle-aged and senior female dogs of the breeds listed.

Possible Cause of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

The exact cause of bladder cancer in dogs is unknown however there appears to be a link between a genetic predisposition and chronic exposure to lawn chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Bladder cancer in dogs can be somewhat tricky to diagnose since the most common symptoms of the disease mimic those of other urinary tract conditions such as stones or infections. If your pup has developed bladder cancer you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Urinating small amounts very frequently
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Accidents in the house
  • Discolored or bloody urine, or
  • Persistent urinary tract infections that are resistant to treatment

In later stages of bladder cancer some dogs experience lameness do to the cancer spreading to the dog's bones or lungs.

If your dog is displaying any of the symptoms listed above it is important to seek veterinary care for your pet. The symptoms of bladder cancer may be caused by a number serious conditions that require treatment.

Diagnosing Bladder Cancer in Dogs

It is not uncommon for bladder cancer to first suspected when your pet's veterinarian feels the presence of a tumor during a routine examination. Tests that can be used to confirm a diagnosis of bladder cancer include:

  • Urinalysis to look for cancer cells in the pet's urine
  • Bloodwork to check for impaired kidney function
  • Abdominal ultrasound to look for tumors within the bladder 
  • CADET Braf testing

Life Expectancy of Dogs with Bladder Cancer

Sadly, the prognosis isn't good for dogs with bladder cancer. Once diagnosed, dogs with bladder cancer will live for approximately 4-6 months without receiving treatment and 6-12 months with treatment.

Treatment for Bladder Cancer in Dogs

If your dog is diagnosed with bladder cancer your vet may recommend surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of these treatments. Due to the location of bladder tumors the full surgical removal of the tumor is typically not possible, although in some cases it may be possible to remove part of the tumor in order to temporarily relieve your dog's symptoms. That said, it's important for pet parents to note that the tumor will regrow after a time.

The CADET Braf Test

The CADET Braf test can help vets to detect the presence of a specific gene mutation that is linked to bladder cancers in dogs. The CADET Braf test can also be helpful in detecting bladder cancer before symptoms become evident, helping vets to determine the extent of the disease, and in determining what the best form of treatment may be. In some cases the The CADET Braf test is used to determine how a dog is responding to chemotherapy treatment.

If your dog is an at-risk breed for bladder cancer ask your vet whether the CADET Braf test is right for your dog.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Has your pet been diagnosed with bladder cancer? The veterinary oncology team here at Memphis Veterinary Specialists & Emergency in Cordova can work with your primary vet to offer the best treatment possible for your pup. Ask your vet about a referral to have your dog see our board-certified oncologist.

From Happy Pet Owners

  • “Forever thankful to kind, sweet, gentle, wonderful Dr. Tina Brown. Our 3 year old girl has been sick for months, but after one month she is back to feeling her happy, playful self again. It feels wonderful to have such an excellent support system in place when I need help.”
    Dale C.

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