Bladder Cancer in Dogs

Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the bladder. It’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs of bladder cancer so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. The more advanced the cancer, the harder it will be to treat. Does dog cancer always lead to death? With early detection and proper treatment, dogs can survive bladder cancer—and live full and happy lives.


The urinary system is responsible for carrying urine from the kidneys to the outside of the body, where it can be expelled. Bladder cancer is a type of cancer that affects this system. It can be found in any area of the urinary tract, but most often occurs in the bladder itself.

Bladder cancer is common in dogs, affecting between one and two percent of all canine patients diagnosed with cancer. The disease is more common in older dogs and male dogs than females; however, breed has also been shown to play a role as well due to an increase in heritability with some purebreds like boxers or cocker spaniels

What is bladder cancer in dogs?

Bladder cancer is a malignant tumor that grows in the urinary bladder. It is the most common form of cancer in dogs, affecting about 4 percent of all canines.

Most bladder cancers are found in older dogs with an average age at diagnosis being 9 years old, but it can occur at any age and affects both male and female dogs equally.

Bladder cancer may be difficult to detect early due to its non-specific symptoms that are also seen with other medical conditions such as arthritis or kidney disease.

Types of bladder cancer in dogs

  • Transitional cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of bladder cancer in dogs. It accounts for about 80% of cases, and it usually occurs in older male dogs.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma: This is the second most common type, accounting for about 15% of cases. It can occur in any gender or breed at any age, but it’s more likely to affect females than males and more likely to be seen in younger animals than older ones.
  • Adenocarcinoma: This type accounts for 10% of cancers detected in dogs’ bladders, although it’s not as common as transitional cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. Again, this type tends to affect female dogs more often than males (just like with squamous cell carcinoma). In fact, this type only affects females at least 90% of the time!

What causes bladder cancer in dogs?

The most common cause of bladder cancer in dogs is exposure to a type of bacteria called Mycoplasma haemofelis. This bacterium can be transmitted from one dog to another via direct contact or by way of their urine—it can also be transferred from people, cats and other animals.

The second most common cause of bladder cancer in dogs is infection with the papilloma virus (which causes warts) as well as feline calicivirus (a viral disease that affects cats).

Other possible causes include:

  • Damage caused by radiation therapy; this includes chemotherapy given to treat other cancers such as lymphoma or leukemia

The warning signs of bladder cancer in dogs

The warning signs of bladder cancer in dogs can be subtle or obvious, depending on the type of disease present. Some signs include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Urinating outside the litter box or urinating frequently for no apparent reason
  • Urinating in unusual places (like the house)

How to diagnose bladder cancer in dogs

You can take your dog to a vet to have it diagnosed. The vet will perform blood tests, urinalysis and x-rays to check for signs of bladder cancer. Also, ultrasound is a useful tool for examining the bladder wall and detecting tumors that might be hiding elsewhere in the body (for example, on the kidneys).

How to treat bladder cancer in dogs

If a dog is diagnosed with bladder cancer, the treatment options depend on the severity of the disease and your dog’s overall health. Some of the more common treatments include:

  • Surgery to remove all or part of the bladder
  • Chemotherapy to reduce or eliminate cancer cells in other parts of your pet’s body
  • Radiation therapy that targets tumor growths to destroy them
  • Hormone therapy (estrogen) to slow down tumor growth

How to prevent bladder cancer in dogs

As a dog owner, you can take steps to reduce your canine’s risk of developing bladder cancer. Avoiding smoking and exposure to chemicals and pesticides is important for reducing your dog’s exposure to carcinogens. Likewise, avoiding x-rays, UV light treatment and radiation therapy can help prevent the development of bladder cancer in dogs that are at high risk for it. Additionally, some foods and medications may increase the risk of bladder cancer in dogs; these should be avoided as well.


  • Be on the lookout for these warning signs of bladder cancer. Early detection is key
  • Don’t wait for the symptoms to get worse. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet:
  • Frequent urination
  • Blood in urine
  • Painful urination (straining or crying while peeing)

We hope that this article has helped you better understand bladder cancer in dogs. As always, if you have any questions about your pet’s health or behavior, we encourage you to make an appointment at your nearest Pet Hospital.