There are more types of urinary or bladder cancer in dogs and each of them may react in different ways. Plus, cancer can spread to other organs as well. Around one in five dogs will end up with metastases by the time the disease is diagnosed, hence the necessity of regular checkups for prevention. The disease can affect any breed, but it tends to be more common in Shetland sheepdogs, beagles and Scottish terriers. Also, elderly female dogs are more likely to get it. Now, how long can a dog live with bladder cancer and what does the treatment involve?
Clinical signs of bladder cancer in dogs
The signs of bladder cancer in dogs may not always raise too many question marks. A basic urinary tract infection may have the exact same symptoms – blood in the urine, painful and frequent urination or incontinence. Most symptoms will improve with antibiotics – make sure you see a vet, rather than give your dog medication by ear. Since bladder infections become concurrent, symptoms may reappear later.
The tumor in cancer can be identified if large – the vet will feel the dog may notice something unusual. If the tumor has spread throughout the abdomen, a simple rectal examination will reveal it. As it spreads, the cancer will affect other organs too and it can also cause skeletal pain.
As the disease may invade the urethra, it can block the urine. Severe tumors are likely to damage the kidneys and cause kidney failure. If your dog is unable to urinate, you need to see a vet immediately – this is an emergency and it cannot wait for another day.
The treatment of bladder cancer in dogs
So, how long can a dog live with bladder cancer? It depends on more factors, such as how quickly the disease is identified and what treatment the vet recommends.
Surgery is classic, but it will not always provide efficient results. While the tumor can be removed, small parts and cells will almost always be left behind. A surgery will disrupt vital organs too, so it cannot be extremely invasive. It may also arise in other parts of the bladder than close to the urethra – the operation is more successful then.
Sometimes, the tumor is partially removed only, meaning the vet will remove a part of it. It will help with symptoms, but the tumor will grow again. It is only a temporary solution.
Chemotherapy is also part of the treatment, but sadly enough, there is no such thing as a protocol that works wonders for bladder cancers in animals. The current chemotherapy protocols will barely help one in five dogs. The treatment could be more effective when mixed with various nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication.
Radiation is the last option and while some vets agree that it may work better than chemotherapy, its side effects are quite severe and can damage other organs.
Prognosis for dogs with bladder cancer
Now, how long can a dog live with bladder cancer? While there are a few options for the treatment, none of them is super effective, so the prognosis is not very good. The longterm prognosis for dogs suffering from this affection is quite poor. It makes no difference what the treatment is. However, trying to treat the dog can ameliorate the symptoms, relieve pain and improve the quality of life for a bit more.
Generally speaking, a dog suffering from bladder cancer will live for up to half a year without having any treatment. On the other hand, a treatment could expand the lifespan with another year, yet this is not really a general rule.
It is important to know that there are many factors behind the prognosis and what works for some dogs may not work for every dog. The affection can target different parts of the bladder, meaning the treatment could be more or less effective. Then, it depends on how quickly the cancer is identified. Sometimes, it could be too late and the disease might be in other organs as well.
Bottom line, how long can a dog live with bladder cancer? In general, a dog will survive for up to a year with a treatment and half as much without a treatment. An early diagnostic will work wonders and will be more effective than the actual treatment. From this point of view, certain breed owners should take their dogs to vets for regular checkups in order to keep an eye on potential risks.