When it comes to cancer of urinary system in dogs, the bladder is the most common place for tumors to develop. Today our Plains Veterinary Oncologist shares some of the causes and symptoms of bladder cancer in dogs, and how the condition is treated.
Dog Breeds with High Rates of Bladder Cancer
While it is possible for any breed to develop bladder cancer, a genetic predisposition is suspected since the disease develops in Scottish Terriers far more than any other breed. Other breeds that appear to face an increased risk of developing bladder cancer include Shetland sheepdogs, beagles, West Highland terriers, and wire hair fox terriers. Middle-aged and senior female dogs of these breeds appear to be most at risk.
Causes of Bladder Cancer in Dogs
The exact cause of bladder cancer in dogs has not yet been established, however there appears to be a link between a genetic predisposition and chronic exposure to common lawn care chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.
Signs of Bladder Cancer in Dogs
It is often the case that symptoms of bladder cancer mimic those of other urinary tract conditions such as stones or infections, which can make the disease challenging to diagnose. If your dog is suffering from bladder cancer you may notice that they urinate small amounts frequently, have difficulty urinating or have accidents in the house.
Other common symptoms of bladder cancer are discolored or bloody urine, and persistent urinary tract infections that are resistant to treatment.
Lameness is also experienced by some dogs in later stages of the disease, due to the spread of the condition to other parts of the body such as the dog's lungs or bones.
Contact your vet right away if your pet is displaying any of the symptoms listed above. It's important to note that while these are common symptoms of bladder cancer, these symptoms are also associated with a number of other serious conditions that require diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing Bladder Cancer
Bladder cancer is often first suspected when the vet feels the presence of a tumor in the dog's abdomen during a routine examination. Some of the diagnostic 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
- CADET Braf testing
Prognosis for Dogs with Bladder Cancer
When it comes to bladder cancer in dogs the prognosis isn't good. Sadly, the life expectancy for dogs with bladder cancer not receiving treatment is about 4-6 months, whereas dogs receiving treatment live an average of about 6-12 months.
Available Treatments 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.
Typically, a full surgical removal of the tumor is not possible due to its location, although in some cases it may be possible to remove a significant portion of the tumor in order to temporarily relieve the dog's symptoms. Nonetheless, it's important for pet parents to note that the tumor will regrow after a time.
The CADET Braf Test for Determining Risk
The CADET Braf test helps vets to detect the presence of a specific gene mutation that is linked to bladder cancers in dogs. This test can be helpful in detecting bladder cancer before symptoms become evident.
The CADET Braf test is also helpful in determining the extent of the disease, what the best form of treatment may be, and how a dog is responding to chemotherapy treatment.
Ask your vet about the CADET Braf test if your dog is a breed with a higher than average risk of bladder cancer.
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.