Canine Bladder Cancer: Signs, Causes, and Treatment Options How to go about caring for your dog if they get canine bladder cancer

Canine Bladder Cancer: Signs, Causes, and Treatment Options

Learn to detect the signs of Canine Bladder Cancer in your dog. Also, find out what options are available for the treatment of the same.

Canine bladder cancer, also known as transitional cell carcinoma (TCC), can be a scary diagnosis, but with the right treatment plan and follow-up care, your dog’s quality of life can improve. Bladder Cancer affects around 50,000 dogs in the USA every year, according to the American Kennel Club.

There are 69 million households in the USA with dogs, as per the latest APPA National Pet Owners’ Survey. Remember, many other pet parents are facing the same trauma as you. 

If you are dealing with this diagnosis and considering treatment options for your pet, here's everything you need to know about canine bladder cancer. 

Signs of Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Blood in the urine, incontinence and inability or difficulty to urinate are the warning signs of bladder cancer. Your dog may also experience a lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and fatigue. 

To confirm the diagnosis, your vet may do tests like Urinalysis, Ultrasound of the urethra and urinary bladder, as well as urine sediment cytology. If it is not bladder cancer, medication for improving the urinary health of your dog may be prescribed. You will get these meds at your pet pharmacy, or you can choose to order pet meds online.

Causes of Canine Bladder Cancer

The cause of canine bladder cancer is not yet clear. However, some factors contribute to the likelihood that your dog will get it.


If your dog is over 6 years old when they develop bladder cancer, their chances of survival are lower than dogs who were diagnosed at a younger age.


Many cases of canine bladder cancer have no known cause and occur spontaneously without any clear trigger. Research has shown that certain breeds or lines tend to have an increased risk of developing certain diseases or conditions.

The most common breeds affected by bladder cancer are Scottish Terriers, Beagles, and Shetland Sheepdogs, amongst others.

Family History

If another family member also had bladder cancer, your dog may be more likely to develop it as well. It is not possible to find out the same if your dog is from a shelter. 

Treatment Options for Canine Bladder Cancer

It is important to have a good idea of what your options are before making a decision about which treatment is best. 

Therapeutic Diets 

Therapeutic diets are not the same as regular dog food. They are formulated to meet your dog’s specific nutritional needs, which may be different from those of other dogs due to his medical condition. These diets may include prescription diets like Hill’s prescription diet food for dogs. 

Please check with your vet regarding the recommended diet for your dog in case of a bladder cancer diagnosis. A therapeutic diet will typically include additional nutrients such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and probiotics that help manage your dog’s disease.

To alleviate pain, vets prescribe pain medication like Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, commonly known as NSAIDs. They include well-known pet medicines like Meloxidyl or Meloxicam. 


As with most cancers, treatments depend on the type and stage of canine bladder cancer. Surgery is a common treatment option for the early stages of this disease, as it can be used to remove all tumors from your dog's body. 

Some dogs may have to have their bladder removed if cancer has spread too far. Experimental options include a synthetic bladder.


In later stages, chemotherapy may be performed. Drugs like Mitoxantrone, Doxorubicin, and Vinblastine, approved for use as pet medication, might be prescribed by your vet.

Bladder Cancer affects senior dogs and provides hardly a year for them to live if not detected at a very early stage. Make sure their life at home is a comfortable one, and they feel loved and secure. A large dog bed might help, as they will be spending a lot of time lying down and resting.

When your dog’s “Quality of Life” is affected by reduced mobility, constant pain, low appetite, breathing difficulties, and incontinence, you can consider putting them down to sleep. PetMd advises you to track their “Quality of Life” using a daily journal. After tracking for a period, if your senior dog is suffering too hard, euthanasia may be a humane option.

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