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Urinary Bladder Cancer in Dogs

By: Dr. Jeffrey Philibert

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Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be crucial.

  • Administer any prescribed medications as directed by your veterinarian and contact your veterinarian if you experience difficulty treating your pet.

  • Activity should be restricted in the postoperative period while your pet is recovering from surgery to obtain a biopsy, remove a tumor, or place a cystostomy tube to allow proper healing of the surgery site. Your pet may need to have sutures removed from the skin 10 to 14 days after surgery.

  • Results of the biopsy report will help your veterinarian decide the optimal treatment approach for your pet.

  • If you consult a veterinary oncologist and begin chemotherapy for your pet, you will need to watch for signs of toxicity and to evaluate your pet's ability to urinate more normally. A schedule of follow-up visits will be designed to evaluate your pet's response to treatment using tests such as ultrasound examination, contrast X-ray studies and occasionally cystoscopy.

  • Signs to watch for that may indicate that cancer has progressed or spread include: straining to urinate or defecate, decreased activity, shortness of breath, coughing, and decreased appetite. Signs such as loss of appetite, fever, vomiting or diarrhea also may indicate toxicity associated with chemotherapy. Contact your veterinarian or veterinary oncology specialist if you observe any of these signs.

    Prevention

  • Avoid dipping your pet with insecticides used to control fleas and ticks more than two times per year due to a statistical association of such products with increased risk of bladder cancer. If you live in an area of the country where fleas and ticks are a year-round problem, talk to your veterinarian about alternative forms of flea and tick control.

  • Proper diet and regular exercise are important for your pet, and a statistical association of obesity and bladder cancer in dogs has been identified.

  • Breeds such as the Shetland sheepdogs, Scottish terriers and West Highland white terriers have increased risk for bladder cancer and should be observed carefully as they age for potential signs of bladder cancer, such as blood in the urine, straining to urinate and increased frequency of urination.

  • Exposure to the drug cyclophosphamide used to treat cancer and some immune-mediated diseases and its carcinogenic breakdown product (acrolein) has been incriminated in development of bladder cancer. Pets that have been treated with this drug should be monitored for potential signs of bladder cancer like blood in the urine, straining to urinate and increased frequency of urination.


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