Canine and feline urinary tract infection is a common occurrence. In some cases, however, the symptoms may indicate bladder cancer. The important signs of prevalence of a growth in the bladder are similar for urinary tract infections in dogs and cats. This hampers an early detection of the tumor. Usually it is severe infections that do not respond to antibiotics that end up in further investigations, leading to a late detection.
Benign tumors of smooth muscle and polyps that occur in the bladder are very rare. These can be removed surgically and usually do not recur. Small masses that do not invade healthy tissue can also be removed surgically.
But in the case of cancerous growths, the cancer is found in parts of the bladder from where it is difficult to remove. Bladder cancer is invasive and affects the bladder walls, making it difficult to remove. In addition, by the time it is diagnosed the cancer cells are found to have metastasized or spread to other parts in the body.
The region where the ureters meet the bladder, the bladder neck, and the first portion of urethra are inaccessible and cancer in these areas is impossible to remove. The only surgery that can be done is a biopsy to study the type of growth so that suitable medication can be prescribed.
The veterinarian has the option to choose between Chemotherapy and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Chemotherapeutic drugs are toxic and have serious side effects. Bone marrow suppression caused by these drugs leads to a low white blood cell count as well as gastrointestinal disorders like nausea and vomiting and kidney toxicity.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have shown a fair amount of promise in the treatment of bladder cancer although the mechanism of their action is not completely understood by specialists yet. Even though the disease progresses in stages, partial remission and some stability has been observed in many instances. Side effects of these drugs include nephropathy, which is mainly damage to the kidneys.
Radiation therapy is used in specialized institutions and is used in cases where a beam of radiation can be directed towards the location of the tumor and the areas where cancer has spread. It is associated with side effects like damage to the skin and adjoining healthy tissue.
Treatment rarely cures bladder cancer and the fundamental goal is to provide temporary relief and to give a better quality of life to the dog. Although bladder cancer is more common among older dogs, UTI in puppies should also be investigated thoroughly to be on the safer side.