Bladder Cancer in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

2 comments Jan 12, 2024by Suzie Cyrenne

If you're anything like most dog parents, chances are you'd like to keep your canine best friend clear of any health problems for the rest of his life. But the thing is bladder cancer can just get in the picture without a warning.

Not knowing how to properly deal with this serious disease can lead to very serious or even fatal consequences for your beloved pet.

This is the biggest reason why we've put together this blog post. Besides walking you through the possible reasons why dogs develop bladder cancer, we will also fill you in on the clinical signs of this disease, as well as the treatment options that you can go for.

Bladder cancer in dogs is not that prevalent but...

While bladder cancer in dogs is rather uncommon, it is a problem faced by thousands of pooch parents. If we're being honest, there is even a chance that your pet could also be vulnerable to this terrible disease.

Is bladder infection an indicator of bladder cancer? Which dogs have an increased risk for the same? Are surgical removal and radiation therapy feasible treatment options? Is there a homeopathic cancer treatment for dogs? In this article, we are going to explore the answers to these questions.

It is our objective that you feel better equipped and more confident to handle such a difficult situation. For a comprehensive look at cancers affecting dogs, check out our complete guide to dog cancer to find out more.


How Common Is Bladder Cancer in Dogs?

As mentioned, bladder cancer in dogs is quite rare. It only comprises approximately 2% of all cancers in dogs. Invasive transitional cell carcinoma (otherwise known as TCC or urothelial carcinoma) is the most common cancer that affects the bladder. 

Although there are less aggressive types of canine bladder cancer, most dogs tend to get diagnosed with their more aggressive counterparts. Accurately diagnosing bladder cancer involves technical procedures such as testing your pet's urine—bloodwork for the kidneys is also usually done—as well as conducting an abdominal ultrasound.

Interestingly, while transitional cell carcinoma can occur in any breed, this cancer more predominantly affects specific breeds such as Terriers and Beagles. Bladder cancer also tends to affect middle-aged or elderly female dogs at higher rates. 

We will discuss these risk factors more in detail in the next part of our discussion.


What are the Risk Factors of Developing Urinary Bladder Cancer in Dogs?

Dog laying down.

As we've pointed out earlier, certain factors or attributes may raise the chances that your dog could develop bladder cancer during his lifetime. It is important to keep in mind that this type of cancer can have an impact on the whole of your dog's urinary system, including his prostate, urethra, and kidneys.

While it is crucial to take note that no exact cause has still been identified concerning dogs bladder cancer up until now, the following factors have been theorized by researchers to be somehow linked with the disease:

Age may be a factor

When dogs reach their middle-aged and senior years, their bodies go through a lot of physiological changes—including those that significantly their overall immune system health. This means they won't be as resilient to disease and illness as they used to be, which makes them susceptible to developing bladder cancer.

This is the reason why veterinary oncologists are detecting bladder cancer more among senior female dogs, as well as those whose immune responses are not that active anymore. This is the reason why boosting your dog's immune system health as early as now is a must.

Besides helping keep bladder cancer in dogs in check, doing so will also prevent other urinary tract conditions that can affect your pet's quality of life and life expectancy in general.

Some environmental factors identified with this disease

A dog may have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer and bladder tumors if he is constantly exposed to certain environmental factors. These include harsh chemicals like drain and oven cleaners, as well as emissions from vapes and cigarette smoke.

We'd just like to point out that besides having an increased risk of these serious wellness problems, even accidental ingestion of some types of chemicals can lead to fatal consequences, such as in the case of antifreeze. It is crucial to remember that chronic exposure to these substances can be deadly for your pet!

Breed and heredity may play a role

While we've mentioned earlier that urinary bladder cancer is quite rare in canines, some particular pedigrees seem to get hit with this health issue the most. The breeds that seem to have the highest diagnoses of bladder cancers cover Wire Hair Fox Terriers, Scottish Terriers, as well as West Highland Terriers.

However, this doesn't mean that all West Highland Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Wire Hair Fox Terriers are vulnerable to bladder cancers. It just means that they have a genetic predisposition that puts them at risk of these serious health problems.

(You can also find out about the cat breeds prone to cancer right here.)

Underlying health issues can possibly trigger bladder cancer

Persistent urinary tract infections and similar issues affecting the urinary system can expose your pooch to an increased risk of bladder cancer. It is even theorized that a neglected secondary bacterial infection affecting the bladder wall may also be a trigger for this serious disease.

In case your pet is suffering from urinary tract conditions due to impaired kidney function or perhaps some issue involving his bladder lining or prostate gland, be very observant with your dog's symptoms since they can already hint that he is suffering from bladder cancer.

We'd just like to emphasize that dogs having a genetic predisposition to this terrible disease of the urinary tract, such as Scottish Terriers, may even show conflicting indicators. See, common symptoms of bladder cancer mimic signs of issues with a dog's urinary system like bladder inflammation and other urinary tract conditions.

We will give you a list of these common symptoms of bladder cancer in canines as we go along.


How Do Dogs Develop Bladder Cancer?

Akin to other types of cancer, there is still no exact cause pinpointed as to the development of bladder cancer cells in a dog's body.

Since this cancer seems to more commonly affect certain breeds, like the West Highland Terriers, Scottish Terriers, and Wire Hair Fox Terriers, researchers believe that these dogs may have a genetic predisposition that increases their risk.

Still, there are no clear answers yet as to what may cause it. Some studies have shown that there may be a correlation between bladder cancer and exposure to petrochemicals and pesticides. There are even speculations that this cancer may also be associated with impaired kidney and bladder stones, as well as microscopic tumor cells that remain unnoticed until it's too late.

Additionally, obesity has also been linked to bladder cancer in dogs. Just to point out, though, an accurate diagnosis by a veterinary oncologist or specialist is still needed to determine whether there exists bladder cancer or not.


Are Bladder Tumors and Bladder Cancer the Same?

Dog smiling beside his owner.

Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly believe, "bladder cancer" and "bladder tumors" are not interchangeable terms. As for bladder tumors, they are indicated by the presence of lumps and bumps made of fatty tissue in the affected area.

On the other hand, the bladder is targeted by cancer cells when it comes to bladder cancer, often developing from transitional epithelial cells. What's really alarming about cancer cells is that they can spread to other organs (such as in the case of lung metastasis) and vital structures of the body like the lymph nodes.

A common denominator between these two is the use of tissue biopsy to check any suspicious anomalies, which is one of the methods used in detecting canine bladder cancer.

While a malignant tumor of the bladder can have the possibility of progressing into cancer, it doesn't mean that all bladder-based malignant tumors will evolve into urinary bladder cancer sooner or later. As we've highlighted earlier, this type of cancer in dogs is rather rare.


Signs of Bladder Cancer In Dogs

Let's now look at the symptoms of bladder cancer in dogs. And just to be very honest with you, this is where things can get tricky. The symptoms of bladder cancer can often be similar to when your dog has a urinary tract infection (UTI), such as painful or frequent urination.

 Here are some symptoms of bladder cancer in dogs to keep an eye out for:

  • Frequent urination

  • Persistent urinary tract infection

  • Chronic problems in kidney function

  • Painful or difficulty urinating

  • Bloody urine

  • Urinary incontinence (lack of control over urination)

  • Excessive licking, redness, or swelling of the genitalia

  • Decreased appetite

If these symptoms keep on getting in the picture during a routine examination with your vet, chances are it's high time you got an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible—or there's the risk of cancer spreading before you know it.


Does Having Persistent Urinary Tract Infections Mean the Onset of Dogs Bladder Cancer?

Although initially, bladder cancer may present with similar symptoms to a case of UTI, the symptoms will keep recurring and getting worse instead of improving after taking antibiotics. Or they may only temporarily relieve a dog's symptoms in the process.

Akin to other types of cancer in dogs, bladder cancer will require different treatment options like full surgical removal, radiation therapy, chemotherapy treatment, or a combination of these. However, we'd just like to reiterate the importance of having an accurate diagnosis done by a vet first.


What are the Methods Used in Detecting Bladder Cancer?

Dogs with bladder cancer cannot be diagnosed as having such serious health issues by mere routine examination or visual inspection. Certain procedures are conducted like an abdominal ultrasound, testing your pet's urine bloodwork, and fine needle aspiration, among others.

Perhaps the most common method used is a biopsy, which involves making a surgical excision for sample collection. The same shall be tested for the presence of cancer cells or if there is a risk of the cancer spreading.


Bladder Cancer In Dogs: Stages

Ideally, the goal is to catch bladder cancer before it can metastasize, or spread, to other body parts. As noted already, there are a few key signs to look out for in the early stages. These symptoms change as the disease progresses into the later stages and the critical stages.

Later Stages of Bladder Cancer in Dogs:

  • Vomiting

  • Decreased desire to exercise

  • Weight loss

  • Difficulty sitting and walking

Critical Stages of Bladder Cancer in Dogs:

  • Difficulty breathing or collapse

  • Uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea

  • Bleeding

  • Crying/whining from pain


Bladder Cancer In Dogs: Life Expectancy

Sadly, bladder cancer in dogs tends to be aggressive, with a poor long-term prognosis. In fact, 20-30% of dogs with bladder cancer have tumors that metastasize to other parts of the body, such as the lungs. If your pet has received a bladder cancer diagnosis, he or she may have anywhere from 4-12 months, depending on the severity of the cancer, and the treatments provided. 

Again, we'd just like to emphasize the importance of providing dogs with bladder cancer the proper care and attention as early as possible. This is to help your pooch have a higher chance of overcoming this disease should he be afflicted with the same.


Can Bladder Cancer In Dogs Be Treated Naturally?

Your dog's overall immune system health plays a key role in helping him deal with disease and illness. And you can use natural products to boost your pet's immune response and keep him as resilient against health issues as can be.

Zumalka's PIPTOPET is a homeopathic cancer treatment for dogs that is designed to ideally support the immune system and maintain physiological functions in tiptop shape during sickness. This premium natural product is made from a mushroom that has "significant antimicrobial, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective activities" according to researchers.

If you are still having a tricky time zeroing in on the right homeopathic cancer treatment for dogs, PIPTOPET is definitely one that you should consider. And given that this premium natural product is made by certified pet homeopathy professionals who are also pet parents, you're guaranteed that your dog is in good hands.


Do You Suspect Your Dog Has Bladder Cancer (Or Some Other Type of Disease or Illness)?

We here at Zumalka are always ready to help when it comes to keeping your pet as healthy and happy as can be. If you're worried that your beloved pooch is going through a health issue, you can schedule an online consultation with us right now!

Besides having a one-on-one session with our certified homeopath that is specifically tailored to your pet's needs, our online consultation is also strategized to get to the root of his problem instead of just treating the symptoms. (And you won't have to deal with all the hassle and inconvenience while you're at it, too.)


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.

Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.


  • HOMEOANIMAL May 24, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Hi Debbie, Thank you for your comment. I am so sorry to hear that your dog has bladder cancer! I hope that you have found this article helpful. Also, for more personalized help for your dog, we have sent you a private email so we can understand better the full situation she is in so we can give you targeted recommendations to help.
    We look forward to helping you and your beloved dog!

  • Debby Dubey May 24, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    My dog is going thru the text of finding out if she has bladder cancer. She’s very attactive eats well. But she had a uti. I rescued her and I know she has had a rough life. She has had huge puppies. A hernia operation I had done. The puppies where huge in her she is about 19 lbs. she is said to be 5 to 7 yrs old. She rescued me after I lost a terrier that looks so much like her. I don’t want to lose this dog and need your help. Thank you.

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