Although there are other causes, dogs that do not drink enough water or those that are not allowed to urinate frequently are at a greater risk of forming bladder stones. Diet plays an important role, since excess amounts of magnesium, calcium, or phosphorus can lead to the formation of bladder stones.
Bladder cancer damages the organ’s natural defenses against disease, and leads to bacterial urinary tract infections in cats and dogs. A UTI is characterized by frequent urination, but in the case of tumor in the bladder, there is an obstruction in the urinary passage that makes normal elimination difficult. When the bladder fills up, the urine applies pressure and finds some space around the tumor, causing canine or feline urinary incontinence.
There are other diseases related to the upper and lower urinary tract whose symptoms are almost similar to bladder carcinoma. Bladder stones (cystic calculi) irritate the bladder lining and cause frequent urination, often with blood. A veterinarian’s assessment is necessary if you suspect that your dog is unable to urinate as complete cessation of urine, as even three days can lead to severe metabolic complications. As nitrogenous wastes are not eliminated through urine, they start to accumulate in the blood-- ultimately leading to kidney failure.
Bladder carcinoma often has a history of improvement in symptoms of urinary tract infections in dogs after administration of antibiotics, which actually delays the detection of the carcinoma. By the time it is detected, the cancer has invariably metastasized, leaving limited options for treatment.
Blood tests and urinalysis simply reflect infections, and may not show any signs of cancer in the bladder. Prevalence of bladder cancer is normally known only after imaging tests like X-rays or ultrasounds have been conducted. Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) affects the transitional epithelial tissue (in this case, the membranous tissue covering the bladder) and is difficult to treat. Survival times vary from a month to a year.
Partial excision of the tumor is a feasible option if the tumor is localized. Partial removal does not address the condition if the carcinoma has already spread to other areas. It is a poor choice for advanced stages of TCC, as the carcinogen is most likely to have affected the entire mucous membrane of the bladder lining. The diffusion of the disease causes multiple lesions and does not allow complete removal of the tumor. Instances where a complete removal has been done have also resulted in tumor recurrence or progression.
Combination chemotherapy is the preferred choice. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as piroxicam-- as standalone treatment or in combination therapy-- have shown good results in the treatment of canine bladder carcinoma. The side effects include gastrointestinal irritation and nephrotoxicity (the poisonous effect of the drug on the kidney). Therefore, treatment requires constant monitoring of dosage and regular laboratory tests to check creatinine and urine-specific gravity to check renal toxicity and GI bleeding.
Radio therapy is another option that is used for moderating pain and providing added support. However, it is technically challenging and requires trained personnel and requisite facilities.