Dog Bladder Cancer: What To Expect

The issue about what to expect when a dog has bladder cancer is a pretty dreary one. If you are searching for this on the internet, you are probably just trying to understand what it is your dog is going through.

Dog Bladder Cancer What To Expect
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So, in this article, we’ll be taking you through what bladder cancer in dogs is about and if there is anything you can do to help your dog. 

We will mention here, though, that your vet is the best source of info for what you can do with your dog. So, whatever you take away from this article, do run it through your vet.

Bladder Cancer In Dogs

There are actually different kinds of bladder cancer that dogs can have; fibrosarcomas and leiomyosarcomas are just some of them. However, when you hear of bladder cancer in dogs, it most likely refers to Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC).

TCC is basically a cancer of the inner lining of the bladder. However, it can also be found in other parts of the urinary system including the kidneys, the urethra, the ureters and the vagina/prostate.

Additionally, TCC can be spread through the bloodstream to other areas in the body including the bones, lymph nodes and even the lungs.

Now, if the cancer happens to get to their urethra, it could block the flow of urine, making it difficult and/or painful for them to go number 1. In severe cases, this could then lead to a destruction of the kidney(s).

On the other hand, if the cancer happens to get to the bones, it could cause bone pain or even make them lame.

No one knows what exactly causes Transitional Cell Carcinoma and there aren’t any breeds that are predisposed to having it. 

However, chronic and consistent exposure to pesticides, petrochemicals and all such chemicals might increase a dog’s chances of coming down with TCC.

Symptoms Of Transitional Cell Carcinoma

The following are symptoms of Transitional Cell Carcinoma in dogs:

  • Incontinence
  • Difficult urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Difficulty in sitting and walking
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Skin irritation on the inside of the legs.

Initially, a dog that has TCC will present symptoms that are similar to those of a urinary tract infection.

So, they might exhibit signs such as incontinence, difficult urination, painful urination, blood in urine and they might even lick their vulva/penis frequently.

As the cancer progresses, you might start to notice that they find it difficult to walk or sit and there might be some skin irritation on the inside of their legs that comes in contact with urine.

Some might stop eating, lose some weight and even have difficulty breathing.

Now, be aware that dogs, and animals in general, are hardwired to hide their pain as some sort of protective instinct.

So, if your dog’s pain is evident; that is, they are howling or growling or whining, it means they need immediate medical attention.

Cheshire Animal
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Treatment For Transitional Cell Carcinoma

First of all, to diagnose a dog of TCC, the most accurate test is a biopsy which is basically an evaluation of the cancer cells. These cancer cells can either be retrieved through surgery or using a catheter.

Other tests that could be run include blood work (which will only be effective if the cancer has spread to the kidney(s)), a urinalysis (which might not be very accurate because a urinary tract infection might present the same signs) or a chest imaging (which will only be effective if the cancer has spread to the lungs and lymph nodes).

Once a dog has been diagnosed with TCC, the treatment option will now depend on the size and area of the cancer tumor.

A surgery can be done to remove the tumor. However, because TCC usually appears at the intersection among the ureters, urethra and the bladder, it is almost impossible to get out the entire tumor without messing up something.

If it appears in a localized place, though, your vet might be able to get most of it out. That said, removing most of it is just buying time as the tumor will grow again.

Other treatment options are chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy hasn’t been known to work for dogs with TCC.

And while radiation therapy has probably had a few successes, it has some not so encouraging side effects.

So, What Is The Prognosis of TCC?

Unfortunately, TCC is almost always fatal, with or without any medical intervention. Without medical intervention, a dog with TCC might be around for between 4 and 6 months which could be a painful period for them.

On the other hand, medication could extend that time to about a year with slightly improved living conditions.

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Thinking About Euthanization

We know that this is a tough call to make and you want to have your dog for as long as possible. However, do think about how your dog might be feeling.

Monitor your dog throughout the process. You need not think about euthanization if they seem fine; still eat right, play around and generally have a good disposition.

However, if they seem like the pain is overbearing and they no longer have a will to live, euthanization might be the humane thing to do.

All these might come as a shock to you what with all the things your dog might be going through.

So, sit with your vet and let them talk you through the options that are available to you and your dog.

Dog Bladder Cancer: What To Expect — FAQs

What Are The Symptoms Of Late Stage Bladder Cancer In Dogs?

The following are signs that tell you that your dog’s blood cancer has advanced to a late stage:

  • Pain when urinating.
  • Pain in the bones.
  • Swollen feet.
  • Weight loss.
  • Pain in the lower back.

Is TCC Painful For Dogs?

A dog who has TCC would certainly be in a lot of pain. From the pains they’ll experience when they are trying to urinate to random bone pains, TCC can put dogs in really serious pains.

However, at the early stage, it might be difficult to detect that your dog is in pain because dogs instinctively try to power through the pain. The only reason you’ld be able to notice them in pains at the later stage of the bladder cancer is because the pain would have become unbearable.

Is TCC In Dogs Curable?

Now, this is a tricky question. Here’s the thing, a dog with TCC will have to be operated on for the cancerous tumor to be removed. Now, this is a somewhat common procedure to perform and after this, the dog can go ahead and go through chemotherapy.

However, the little snag here is that most times, by the time the TCC has been detected, it would have spread to certain parts of the body where removing it would be dangerous.

What Do You Feed A Dog With Bladder Cancer?

If you are thinking about what to feed your dog who has bladder cancer, it is best to speak with your vet. They should be able to help you with diet adjustments and plans that will help your dog in their healing process.

That said, be sure that whatever you’re giving your dog is fresh, properly prepared and easily digested.

Does Bladder Cancer In Dogs Spread Fast?

The speed with which bladder cancer spreads in dogs is not anything peculiar. It spreads at about the same speed as any other cancer a dog could get but certainly not as fast as hemangiosarcoma.

Where Does Bladder Cancer Spread To In Dogs?

From the bladder and even deeper into the bladder up to the walls, bladder cancer in dogs can spread to the urinary tract, the lymph nodes, the lungs and the liver. And at this point, it is practically impossible to get all the tumors out.

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