How to Treat Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Written by rachel burton
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How to Treat Bladder Cancer in Dogs
Dogs diagnosed with bladder cancer can improve with treatment. (dog image by Mat Hayward from

Bladder cancer accounts for approximately 1 to 2 per cent of all canine cancers. The exact cause of any cancer is unknown. However, some factors are known to contribute to the growth of cancer cells, including genetic predisposition as well as diet and environmental exposure, such as chemicals found in lawn care. Products used to treat fleas and ticks are also suspected to be harmful to canines' health.

Only a veterinarian can diagnose canine cancer and recommend a course of treatment. Treatment options help combat bladder cancer, as well as natural remedies to help ease any pain or discomfort the dog may experience.

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    Investigate any unusual behaviours the dog may be exhibiting and consult with a veterinarian immediately. Common symptoms are bloody or brown urine and frequent but minimal urination. A tissue biopsy can determine if a tumour is cancerous or not. This can be done by surgery, cystoscopy or urinary catheter. If the tissue is cancerous, the vet will verify the severity of the cancer. Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine states the tissue should undergo "tumor staging." This determines the best way to treat the cancer and provides a prognosis. It also establishes an initial tumour measurement to use in evaluating the success of further treatment.

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    Determine the type of treatment that best suits your dog's disease. Three types of treatment are available to dogs with bladder cancer: surgical excision, chemotherapy and/or anti-inflammatory drugs. Surgery is an option only if the cancer has not spread beyond the bladder. It is also possible only on small masses confined to certain locations in the bladder. Chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin, carboplatin, adriamycin and mitoxatrone, can be used in combination to help treat bladder cancer. Purdue University has found the combination of chemotherapy and non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to be effective.

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    Consider natural remedies. Natural remedies cannot cure the cancer, but can strengthen the immune system to help better fight the disease. Chemotherapy can sometimes damage the internal organs, and natural herbs including milk thistle and dandelion can help boost liver and kidney function. Most can be used safely during chemotherapy; check first with your doctor. Essiac tea is comprised of burdock root, slippery elm inner bark, sheep sorrel and Indian rhubarb root. While no studies have proven its effectiveness, many dog owners have found it to be beneficial during the treatment process.

    Dr. Johanna Budwig, a German research scientist, believes the combination of organic flaxseed and organic cottage cheese eaten three times a day for a minimum of three months can help reduce the size of the cancer membrane. This combination of sulphur proteins allows the oil to become water soluble, therefore easily absorbed in cell membranes.

Tips and warnings

  • Bladder cancer in dogs is not easily cured, so early detection is vital. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the more effective treatment will be.

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