All About Bladder Cancer in Dogs

by VetDepot on February 8, 2013

bladder cancer in dogs editedTransitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is the most common type of bladder cancer diagnosed in dogs. Based on their location and/or size, tumors can block the flow of urine into or out of the bladder, which makes dogs very sick very fast. Transitional cell carcinomas also can spread out of the urinary tract, typically to the lungs and lymph nodes within the abdomen. It is important for owners to understand the symptoms associated with TCC to avoid potentially catastrophic delays in treatment.

Diagnosing TCC

Transitional cell carcinoma is most frequently diagnosed in older, spayed female dogs. Scottish Terriers have an especially high incidence of the disease, and in this breed, exposure to lawn herbicides has been shown to increase a pet’s risk for developing TCC. Beagles, Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and West Highland White Terriers are also at higher than average risk for TCC.

The most common symptoms associated with transitional cell carcinoma are straining to urinate, urinating small amounts frequently, urinary incontinence, and the presence of blood in the urine. These same clinical signs are often seen with other types of urinary tract disease, so diagnostic tests are necessary to reach a definitive diagnosis. These may include:

  • urinalysis – tumor cells are sometimes detectable during a routine urinalysis. Many dogs with TCC also have a urinary tract infection.
  • bladder tumor antigen test – if this urine test is negative, the chances that a dog has TCC are very low. Positive results indicate that a dog might have TCC and need to be confirmed with other tests.
  • x-rays – bladder tumors can be visible on x-rays, particularly when contrast agents are infused into the bladder. Abdominal and chest x-rays are also used to screen for spread of the cancer.
  • abdominal ultrasound – ultrasound is another good way to visualize tumors in the bladder and check for metastases in the abdomen.
  • biopsies – tissue samples taken from the tumor and evaluated by a pathologist may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of TCC.

Treatment and Prognosis

Because they are typically located near the area where the urethra exits the bladder, transitional cell carcinomas
are often difficult to treat surgically. Most cases of TCC are best treated with chemotherapy and/or radiation. Studies have shown that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like piroxicam and deracoxib have activity against TCC, so they are often used in combination with traditional chemotherapeutic agents or alone when the situation warrants. Antibiotics are prescribed when a urinary tract infection is present.

All treatment protocols for TCC should be viewed as a way to prolong a pet’s life, not as a cure. Once a dog can no longer pass urine adequately and/or its quality of life is unacceptable in any other way, euthanasia is often the best option.

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

RIchard Cox February 9, 2013 at 12:06 am

I guess you could say I am a victim of TCC. I am a k9 officer and I had to put my partner of 9 years down because of TCC. We were doing a search of a school and her bladder had ruptured. After 9 years together, and countless drug finds, my partner and best friend had to be put to sleep. SO PLEASE get your dog checked!! Look for the warning signs and ask your vet to do a urine check every year.

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ellen youncourt February 10, 2013 at 6:25 am

Very interesting. Can the same thing happen to a cat?

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Robert February 12, 2013 at 8:26 am

Our dog, a 10-year old male, came down with the same symptoms – only because there was snow on the ground did I notice the pinkish tinge in the urine one morning. Our Vet in Ridgewood, NJ (Dr Cerf) performed surgery (after explaining there was NO guarantee about the results) in Feb, 2006. The surgery (and piroxicam therapy) extended his life another 6 months: in August the cancer had redeveloped with a vengence and we were forced to ‘do the right thing’ – we realized that prolonging his life would be selfish on our part, and we wanted to end his life with dignity. The surgery and therapy was very expensive, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that we did everything reasonably possible to save his life…would I do it again? Not sure

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Tom Suydam February 12, 2013 at 8:45 am

In retrospect, the first signs for us came when we noticed our 10 year old Lab mix was straining to urinate. For several months our vet suspected a tumor but didn’t mention TCC. She even did x-rays and ultrasounds. But then we noticed he was wetting his bed at night. We took him to an oncologist vet who told us it was TCC. But unfortunately, it was already too late. The cancer had spread and he declined rapidly. In just over a week, we had to have him euthanized. He had stopped eating anything and was vomiting foam. I knew he was mortified by doing that in the house. Finally he gave me a look as if to say, “This is too hard. Take care of me.” So, reluctantly I did.

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dthomas February 12, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Just wanted to send a positive story. My parents dog was diagnosed with TCC last summer. It was found accidentally, while performing an ultrasound for a different issue. The dog had surgery to remove the bladder tumor, underwent chemo and has been taking piroxicam ever since. It’s been about 7 months and the dog is doing great. Eats well, and acts completely normal. Don’t know if it will ever progress or get worse, but she’s certainly enjoying a lot of quality time for now.

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Loida Dorfner November 13, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Hello, you wrote this in Feb 2013. Can you please tell me how your dog is now? I’m going through the same thing. Our specialist had also found mass in my dog’s bladder during an ultrasound for a totally different issue…My heart is breaking right now for my boy…Your message here is the only positive one I’ve seen so far.

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Linda December 9, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Hi Loida, My boy was just diagnosed in October with TCC. He has a regular vet who has him on Piroxicam and he has a Holistic vet who has him on vitamins and enzymes and probiotics.
This has never happened to any dog that I have ever owned. This is the worst news I could have ever received. This sucks.
How is your boy doing?
Linda

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Akorobkin July 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

Our border collie/healer mix Tula, was diagnosed with TCC in feb of this yr. we all know that it first appears as a bladder infection….but the truth revealed itself…we’ve done the chemo and the proxicam…her tumor is inoperatble….chemo not helping. Ok hers the thing. Tula was rescued from a puppy mill,where the practice of using pesticides to rid of fleas(I guess,or other lethal herbicides used for plants…). Tula is only 5 years old.she never new love before we got blessed to find her,could not even climb stairs…never had. Now,she is happy and not so healthy. Please people, make your voice known …never buy a pet from a “store” and tell everyone you know so our beloved Tula can help make a difference! PLE ASE. Please.

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Linda July 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm

On Friday eve, our pug began urinating bright red urine, but otherwise feeling well. I took him to the vet the next morning where he was diagnosed with TCC with lymph node involvement. I didn’t believe it because he was lively and acting fine, but urinating bright red blood. At 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning, he began having seizures and would lose a lot of blood each time he seized. He had such fear in his eyes; we euthanized him.

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Susan July 11, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Our beagle mix was just diagnosed with TCC a few days ago from an ultrasound. Due to his age we are not proceeding with chemo. The vet is estimating 2 or 3 months for him. He had been straining to urinate and was very grouchy with our other dog. So sad.

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Chris August 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

On July 17, 2013, our 11 year old female Sheltie was diagnosed with TCC. (She was diagnosed with UTI recurrences since April.) She was doing wonderfully until August 5th. She began panting, pacing, and would not settle down anywhere. When I came home for lunch, she gave the signal that she needed my help. We vowed not to let her suffer at all. The house is empty without her.

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jerry hawley July 8, 2014 at 12:31 pm

My heart is breaking today and am finding it very hard to hold back tears. I had to put my little girl schipperke down today. She was diagnosed last January/February 2014 with tcc. I notice blood in her urine and the vet did an ultrasound. I was giving her piroxicam for the past 6 mos. The past week I noticed she would isolate herself from me. She would lay on the back porch for hours. She got under my bed and would sleep for long periods. The last few days she refused to eat and drank little. Took her to the vet today and the vet said her blood work indicated she was in complete kidney failure and the cancer had like spread. I had her euthenized today 7/8/2014,

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Linda July 14, 2014 at 4:35 am

Hi Jerry, ,
I know just how you are feeling, , my german shepherd George was diagnosed with bladder cancer 2 weeks ago and the grieve is so overwhelming,, his favorite place is the seaside so the day after his scan myself and family packed up for a long weekend to the coast where George just had a great time swimming and catching the waves,,
I dont know how long I have left with him because he is still behaving like always which makes it so much harder.
He is 11 and two months old so I discounted surgery and chemo, he just has metacam pain relief,, im sure like my George your dog was much more than that,, I have lived alone with him for over 6 years when my youngest moved out and I really can’t see my life without him.
I was so moved by your story I just had to reply
With the kindest regards Linda

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jerry hawley July 19, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Thanks, Linda. My little girl was also 11 yrs. I am finding out that i made many mistakes on what i fed her. Go on the website and type in : “The dog cancer survival guide” the author also has a youtube video look it up and listen to him, he is very knowlegable. One thing he says to avoid giving your dog is sodium nitrate found in processed meats. Also, spaeding and neutering dogs too young can cause bladder cancer later. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXXWLyp50qQ jerry

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Penney August 11, 2014 at 9:30 am

Jerry, my heart breaks for you but putting her down was the most humane and loving thing you could do for her. I’m sure when she crossed over that rainbow bridge she was smiling, happy and healthy again!
We learned about a month ago our 11 year old beagle had TCC. She had a splenic mass as well and underwent surgery on the 31st of July for a splenectomy and bladder/abdominal explore. Part of the large mass at the apex of her bladder was removed along with several small tumors. However, several small tumors remain. She was started on Deramaxx, Simplicef and Tramadol in the hospital but after 5 days we dropped the Simplicef because of stomach upset. 3 days later we dropped all meds and started her on Sucralfate one hour before eating to help coat the stomach. So far this has worked. She is supposed to start Palladia (chemo) when her stomach has had no upset for one week. I fear that her sensitive stomach will not be able to handle the chemo, even with the help of cerenia, an anti nausea drug. If she can tolerate the treatment we may be lucky to have her 6-9 months, possibly more. If she does not tolerate it then we will do the right thing and put her down. My vet says I will know when the time cones and I pray I do and not let her suffer.
Thanks so much for sharing your story and allowing me to share mine.
Penney

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John H September 5, 2013 at 9:58 am

Well, 2 weeks after sending our youngest to college and becoming empty nesters, our 10 year old miniature schnauzer was diagnosed this morning with TCC. Large, aggressive tumor, bad location. Other than peeing more frequently (no blood-yet), the little guy still seems happy and healthy, which, of course, makes the diagnosis so much harder to accept. We’ll have to make some tough calls and cherish what time we have left.

I really do appreciate these sites and the chance to see what others have been through. Loss, whether of a person or an animal who thinks he’s a person, should never be experienced alone.

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Laura September 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hey all,
We’ve been battling TCC in our mini schnauzer as well. Wanted to tell you all about a forum at cancercompass, about TCC. Look it up, there are lots of us there battling this ugly cancer and sharing tips and hope. Good luck to all pups with TCC.

Laura

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Patti Horton October 2, 2013 at 10:40 am

Hello.. I write this with such a heavy heart.. My dog Ava had been peeing and had a tinge of blood. it resolved without treatment.. Then suddenly came back with much more blood. Took Ava to the Vet her specimen showed an infection. 10days of Baytril and still peeing then going to another spot and peeing again except it was all blood. Trying to pee again several times. Taken back to Vet xray for stones negative new antbiotic peeing and more blood. Not only that but on walks pee stop try and pee pure blood result couple more steps trying to pee and blood… Doc suspected cancer need to do surgery. Surgery done came out and said tumor is very large she is only peeing from a little space. Do not think she will respond to medication. She will take about a week for recovery from this and you will probably have to bring her back in a week in an emergent situation. Said best thing to do would be while she was still under to let her go. God 20mins i talked and asked and he assured me if he had a magic trick he would use it.. So I left my baby go. Now I read these and I have gut wretching guilt that I didnt bring her home. The maybes are driving me nuts.. She loved life so much. Some evenings she seemed like she was uncomfortable and laid around more but she was so excited to go on a ride that day and never came home. I am so torn at whetther I should of left her go until she couldnt do anything or let her go..

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Donna October 3, 2013 at 9:40 am

You did the right thing. From what I’ve been reading, when the late stage symptoms really kick in, your baby is in a lot of misery. You honored Ava’s life and let her go with dignity.

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Carol Schramke January 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I feel your heartache. My Daisy has made it 4 month with peroxicam. Her tumor was very large when discovered in her bladder after peeing blood. The peroxicam caused her stomach to bleed and she was bleeding out the rectum with severe bloody diahrea. We got that under control and my vet thought she should go back on the peroxicam. I was hesitant since the second ultra sound revealed her tumor was double in size after 4 months of peroxicam. I have now taken her off the medication. I won’t let her go through that again. I pray over her daily and have her on my mind constantly. She is still peeing and eating at the moment but I will not let her suffer. When she can no longer pee or eat I will do the right thing. My heart goes out to you and prayers.

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Barbara Wallace March 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm

Try not to feel guilty about what you did. Your dog was suffering. Dogs are very good at masking illness.

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Penney August 11, 2014 at 9:36 am

You did the right thing while she was asleep and did not have to go thru any pain. If she was unable to pee at all it would have only gotten worse and painful. I’m sure she is thanking you for not letting her suffer!
Penney

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Donna October 3, 2013 at 9:38 am

Just got the word on my beagle/collie female mix, Chloe. She is 11 -1/2 years old and a shelter rescue. I am at work crying now because I’m not sure what I can afford in the way of surgery — or if surgery is even worth the stress on her body. Will probably try piroxicam and hope I don’t keep her to the point of witnessing some of the awful late-stage symptoms. I will be strong and let her go when it’s time. I still need to find out how large her mass is, hopefully it’s not obstructing urine at this point and we can get it to shrink a little. It’s nice to have a place to get this out, and to offer my sympathies and support to others who are dealing with this. (Why can’t dogs live as long as African Grey parrots?!?)

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Patti Horton October 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Thank You for your kind words…I am sorry to see that your news about your doggie wasnt very encouraging.. I miss my Ava so much she also was a rescue.. She LOVED us with every inch of her heart and I was so grateful she picked us that day… I know in my heart that I did what was best for her esp. when they said that things would get very bad.. It seemed all she did was pee and try and pee. Even looking back I see that she licked herself all the time and had never done that and wasnt as active. But I never in my wildest dreams thought the outcome of that day would be what it was…. My vet who was so upset at the results of the surgery called to make sure we .were dealing okay and to make sure we knew that we did the best thing. I hope things work out for you and your beloved pet. Please keep me posted…..Thoughts of Good Things…Avas Mom ….. Patti

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Crystal November 21, 2013 at 10:38 pm

My 7 year old yorkie was diagnosed with TCC on October 1st and sadly she died on October 19th. It’s been a month now and I’m still stricken with grief. It started with the urgency to pee all the time with very little urine coming out. I took her to the vet on September 29th where an ultrasound showed she had a mass in her bladder. The vet recommended surgery and two days later I got the terrible diagnosis. The vet recommended to start chemotherapy 2 weeks after surgery. I even met with an oncologist. The cancer became so aggressive so fast, didn’t even get a chance to start chemo. Muffin stopped eating and drinking and was vomiting. She looked so sad and was in so much pain. On October 19th, I decided not to let her suffer anymore and euthanized her. That was the hardest decision of my life! I still mourn and I am so lonely.

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Linda December 9, 2013 at 7:42 pm

My dog is a rescue from Mexico. We literally “found” each other in the streets of a Southwestern town in Mexico 10 and 1/2 years ago. He was only about 6 months old then. He was starving and had mange real bad. I gave him water and food and took him to the vet there in Mexico. When he was well enough I brought him home to the states. We have been crazy happy ever since…then this horrible diagnosis on October 30th 2013. I want to save him again. It was a miracle that we found each other…now we need another miracle. My dog’s name is Suki. He is a terrier chihuahua mix with a little bit of Xoloitzcuintle in him. He weighs 17 pounds. He is the best dog I have ever had in my whole life. I have him on Piroxicam, enzymes, vitamins, probiotics. He seems to be doing OK for now. He has good days and bad days. The bad days are low energy days and he’s not all that hungry. The good days he wants to play ball and acts real hungry at breakfast and dinner time. He pees a lot but he drinks a lot of water too. I wish there was a miracle cure. No, what I really wish is that this is just a bad dream and I’m going to wake up from it.

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CWright December 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm

My 9 year old female spayed beagle mix (Mable) was diagnosed with bladder (TCC) and lung cancer. She had her first chemo treatment 3 weeks ago and will have another this Monday. Mable is also on prednisone instead of piroxicam. She’s been taking an antibiotic for vaginitis which I thought was working but this evening there’s a dark red discharge. Hopefully, the vet will have a suggestion to stem the infection.
I appreciate being able to share Mabe’s story with others who understand the heartache of dealing with cancer.

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DJ January 1, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Born April 20th, 2005, I got “Bonkers” at 6 weeks. She fit in the palm of my hand. She was the brute of the litter pouncing and playing with all the others even when they’d rather not. She is a fawn with gorgeous markings and a perfect cinnamon-bun tail.

In the early days she had a bed *on* my desk so I could keep an eye on her (I work from home). At night, well, she was were she belonged, under the covers with me and my wife (except for recently due to the occasional incontinence).

She has spent her entire life with almost constant 24/7 access to “Dad”… at my side as I worked, joining me on my 3 mile daily walk, riding with me in the Jeep (all I had to say was “let’s go jeepin” and she was out the door), sitting in my lap during a bit of evening TV or movie and, of course, snuggling with me and “Mom” at night.

Diagnosed on November 14th with TCC, we opted out of surgery or chemo. The Vet told us that it would never be a cure, only an extension of unknown length. Quite honestly the cost was prohibitive as well. But we have been treating her with Piroxicam, Clavamox and Proin (for the incontinence). She’s done very well for the last 7 weeks. You wouldn’t even know she was sick as she kept up her normal routine and antics. But over the last few days other things have changed. It’s rare for her to eat even an ounce of food without vomiting within minutes. She’s become afraid to eat because of this except when she becomes very, very hungry but always with the same result. We’ve tried different foods, veggies, fruits, etc., and different times of day. All lead to the same result.

My wife and I know we’ve done everything we were able to do and understood the TCC would progress rapidly (Dr. said within 7 weeks or so). I won’t let her suffer from starvation, I won’t let the fear I see in her eyes torture her. This is not about us, it’s about her.

So it’s with a very heavy heart that we’ve decided the time has come to show how much we love her by letting her go. Tomorrow will be an awful day but the cycle of life must continue.

Never forgotten, always loved, appreciative of all the joy she brought to our home, Bonkers blessed us for 8 years, 8 months, and 13 days. Dad and Mom love you and we’ll see you in our dreams.

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cbwright January 19, 2014 at 8:19 am

Making the right decision is so very hard. It sounds like she was an important part of your life and will not be forgotten. My thought are with you.

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Jill January 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

My 9 yr old Golden Retriever has a big mass in his bladder. He had blood tests , ultrasounds, x-ray. He has been on piroxicams for 2months.
The specialist still can’t come right out and say it is TCC. Now they want to do surgery to remove were the mass is and take a biopsy. Cost $4000 just for the surgery. It is a very large mass. I was thinking of taking a loan out and have been on the internet trying to find more than a few positive outcome but few are out there.

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JuliB February 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

I’m in a similar condition, but with a min pin who is 12 years old. My dr recommended against surgery due to her age and general conditions. She’s had an acute attack of pancreatitis (5 months ago) and was diagnosed with a degenerative nerve disease (about 10 months ago). She’s still a very wiggle-waggle dog and you’d never think she had a problem.

The mass is in a good location (not in the ‘neck’ area nor in the area where urination would be blocked) and is only 1.5×1 cms big. He said they could probably remove it if they did surgery for the biopsy, but that many times the tumor will come back. It’s very difficult to be sure they have all the cells out because they can migrate through the body.

I had already decided to let her live out her time without any aggressive intervention because the prognosis is not good even with treatment You sound like you have a devoted heart – I know that I would probably take a loan out too if need be, but 9 is already senior age for big dogs.

Whatever you choose, know that your dog loves you and knows you love him. Not like people where we don’t know where we stand.

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Judy February 4, 2014 at 6:36 am

My Jack Russell was diagnosed 4 weeks ago with TCC. Thought it was an UTI but after 2 bouts of antibiotics the vet suspected a tumor. The ultrasound confirmed his thoughts, it is in the neck and is inoperable. We tried the Proxicam but it made her very sick, vet and l decided she would feel better without its, l don’t regret not having her on it because they aren’t sure how much it helps. I am going to begin a holistic approach to help her at least urinate more comfortably, has anyone seen a holistic vet and what did they recommend? It’s so hard you wish they could talk so you knew how they felt, l don’t want her to be in pain, for the most part she acts ok she just seems to sleep more

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Jack February 5, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Our special boy Dudley (shep mix), who is roughly 11 and rescued from Puerto Rico, was ultrasound confirmed for TCC today. First signs were bloody urine about 3 months ago and given antib’s to treat what was thought a uti. Fast forward 2 months later and he started rejecting food. We knew something was wrong. New vet thought kidney disease due to new blood info. Brought to a more specialist bet that id’d the Tcc (mass at neck of bladder was causing kidney problems). Opting for the surgery in hopes he can have some quality lifetime left.

Did I mention, like all your dogs, he is one great dog. Light of my life. I wish you all the best in your dogs’ treatments and heart goes out to those who are no longer here.

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Jack February 6, 2014 at 9:49 am

Update… My baby is not doing well after surgery. His kidney values are still elevated. I am so sad. I want him home with me.

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Jack February 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

Feb 20 2014…

Dudley is no longer with us. I so miss my baby. The more we love them the harder it is to let go and accept he is no longer physically here.

I am devastated by this. Dudley, I love you so so much and will think of you all the time. Your daddy.

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Amy February 10, 2014 at 10:19 pm

My 8 year old pitbull named Haze is going through all of the symptoms I have read so far. Blood in her urine, straining to urinate, no urine at times and just blood, whining more to go outside. I realized something was wrong around January 2014 when she wanted more and more water and cried to go outside atleast 15 times a day, I assumed it was a bladder infection because she was previously diagnosed with one a few years ago which led to having her uterus removed. This time around I was told she had a bladder infection and was prescribed medication for 10 days 2 times a day. Also haze started showing showing sores on her body, it went from one to about 7 in a 3 month span, her first visit I was told they were cyst and would never fully heal but today I was told they as well may be cancerous. They took a blood sample from one and they were going to take a bladder sample with a needle but I was told that couldn’t happen because that can possibly irritate the mass (if it Is a mass) and cause it to spread more. I was given Benadryl and another antibiotic for two weeks…in two weeks I will know exactly what’s wrong and I was told I might have to be sent to an oncologist…but after reading all these stories, I am pretty sure my dog has TCC and i’ve been in tears all day. I’ve had her since she was 3 weeks old, she’s such a huge teddy bear and she’s been with my family for 8 years, in my daughters like for four and protects her so much as if she was her own. I will keep you posted ! god bless you all and all of your pets :(

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Gina February 17, 2014 at 5:19 am

Hi Amy

You are in our prayers. Gina

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Bret February 15, 2014 at 12:55 am

Just wanted to put some positive news on this message board. My dalmatian who is probably 10 or 11 (he was a rescue so not sure of his age), was diagnosed with TCC just before Thanksgiving of 2013 after many many months of treating him for what we thought was a unresolved (and ever-worsening) bladder infection of some sort. The cancer had already metastasized into his prostate so things looked immediately grim. I believed he would probably not last until Christmas and vet specialist thought he had two months tops which meant I would probably put him down much sooner than that because he would deteriorate and suffer for part of those two final months. Nico had dropped 9 pounds (normally 52 pounds healthy, he was down to 43 and looked horrible), was completely incontinent, walked with bowed legs a bit because prostate was so swollen, he was lethargic and was struggling to pee/poo when he wanted to (though when he relaxed he would completely lose control of his bladder inside 5-6 times a day and at night time in his bed which was stressful for all of us). I chose not to do any surgery or chemo because of location of tumor, his age and I wanted to pursue quality of life versus quality if at all possible. I have to say piroxicam has been a miracle bandaid cure. by christmas of 2013 he had gained all of his weight back (literally he gained nine pounds in four weeks), and was bounding around like a happy dog at the park again. The piroxicam completely stabilized him. He sleeps a lot now but when he’s up, his eyes are clear, he runs around and plays with my two year old son, he no longer walks with bowed legs, the prostate which was previously VERY obviously swollen is not visibly a concern right now, and he seems much better/happier. I’ve never seen blood in his urine. All of that said, he still has bad days about every 5-6 days when he either sleeps all day or he has a period of incontinence. I definitely get up early and let him out immediately so he won’t pee inside, but this is an improvement from before when he would pee in the house (sometimes standing right in front of me) because he had so little control of his bladder, and then strained when he actually wanted to go. obviously i’m sure this will not go on forever, but I’m glad to have taken this route and feel good that the piroxicam has given him quality of life again for however long he lasts — i haven’t found that dogs (especially when they are older) do well after receiving anesthetic, and i didn’t find any results showing that there would be much quality and happy life left by using chemo/surgery over just piroxicam. He has been on piroxicam for about three months now, and he has intermittent accidents (as described above) but they are manageable unlike before. I use powdered probiotic and pepcid ac to soothe his stomach when using the piroxicam and intermittently amoxicilin (low dose) when it seems like he may have UTI (which usually resolves any incontinence he experiences). its been easy actually to manage his health for the last three months and was a huge relief after months of repeated accidents in the house every day while he simultaneously lost a ton of weight. The only recent slight change has been that it seems he’s getting pickier about what he eats but he still has an appetite for peanut butter so as long as I put PB on whatever food he eats, it goes down the hatchet. We were on almost a daily death watch three months ago, so it is nice to be three months later and able to report that he is doing so much better. The prognosis with dogs with TCC which has metastisized to prostate is not fantastic even when treated with Piroxicam, but months of additional quality time when we were probably weeks away from euthanizing Nico is not shabby, and frankly, not stressful to the wallet either.

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Erin February 25, 2014 at 7:26 am

Thanks for the good news! My 15 year old Bichon was just diagnosed with advanced TCC that has spread down his urethra and his prostate. He’s at high risk for blockage now because of the size and location of the tumor, so we’re keeping a close eye on him. I’ve also decided against chemo and surgery and just want to keep him stress/ pain-free. I started him on metacam and hope to see some of the same stabalization that you’ve seen!!

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Gina February 17, 2014 at 1:36 am

Hi All, we seem to be in the same boat. Our beloved jack Russell Lucinda is 12 next month and we noticed her wanting to wee more than usual last month. Took her immediately to our local vet and UTI was diagnosed. Straight onto antibiotics. We noticed her need to wee decreased and she appeared back to normal. Then after a week it was the same. Back to the vet who said the infection had not cleared and prescribed ore antibiotics. After a week, I got suspicious and asked for a referral to a specialist vet. An ultrasound revealed the ugly cancerous rumours in her bladder last week. We are devastated. We can’t believe it. She is on piroxicam now and having a biopsy in the morning and seeing an oncologist. So far she is eating and bouncing around with her brother (from the same litter). Will see what the best options are. Needless to say, we are getting urine and blood tests done for the other dog… Best wishes to you all. Gina

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Marian February 17, 2014 at 4:49 am

Hi. I’m not sure if my baby Teddy has tcc. He’s a 10yr old chow. He has had two surgeries last week since he could’nt pee. The vet said Teddy has stones and we had to have those stones removed asap. The stones are now gone and Teddy just had an xray today and still he can’t pee well… just drops and these made his behind legs wet all the time. This worries me a lot and i don’t want him to feel uncomfortable and with pain. :’(

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calvin February 23, 2014 at 3:23 pm

We have an 11ish yo chow mix, female, diagnosed with TCC about mid November, 2013. Had surgery, because vet couldn’t get a good enough specimen with cysto, came back inconclusive on path report. Has done pretty well on the piroxicam & leukeran. Eats about as usual & seems to feel fine. Not a real active dog anyway. Does seem to get uti’s, which I can tell when starts leaking urine more, but I can live with leaking-more concerned about blockage–which vet says will happen rather abruptly when it occurs. Not sure would go down this path again, as has been very expensive, but we’ve had her in family since she about 2 mo old stray. We agree as long as she seems to feel good, we will carry on.

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Terri February 25, 2014 at 9:52 pm

I wanted to share a happy story. Halloween of 2012 my golden retriever was diagnosed with TCC of the bladder while doing an ultrasound of his abdomens because of diarrhea. They found a 3cm x 1.4cm mass in his bladder. I took him to an oncologist who confirmed with a second ultrasound and a test for TCC. After research, I decided on chemo (mitoxantrone) and piroxicam. I’m thrilled to say that he is still with us, and has had very few down days in the last 15 months. So, for those of you who read the boards and see all the sad stories or hear your vet say nothing helps, don’t be so quick to believe it. My dog gets chemo every 3-4 weeks and a daily piroxicam and Pepcid to protect his stomach. Other than that, he’s had some pancreatitis issues the last two months, but now he’s on a special lowfat diet and it’s much better. It’s not cheap, but he’s a dog that was never sick his first 10 years, so I can’t really complain. He’s such a sensitive and loving dog. I realize that i am lucky to have him and I enjoy every day he’s here. We call him the miracle dog, and I am so grateful to my vet and his team for keeping him feeling great for so long.

I encourage all of you or read up and ask lots of questions. Check out the Purdue bladder cancer website. They are always doing studies and there are even new metronomic drugs that are taken one pill a day that have helped many dogs live a little longer.

My boy will be 12 in April, and we didn’t even think he’d live until 11. Bless you, and I am so sorry that all of you have had to deal with this terrible disease.

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Mike and Paige July 3, 2014 at 8:58 am

Hey Terri,

We recently found out our 11 year old Cocker Spaniel was diagnosed with TCC. We were glad to see your story. Do you have any updates?

Thank you,

Mike & Paige

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Jessica March 4, 2014 at 11:11 am

My dog has been having problems with urinary infections since she was 4 weeks old. She is now 2 and has just started peeing blood clot and crying to constantly go outside. We have her on 2 antibiotics and anti mm flam a tory and even valium to ease her pain and straining. We did an ultrasound and her bladder is misshapen. The vet thinks it could be a tumor pushing or her bladder attached to something else. She is my baby so I don’t know what to do. We sent her urine off and are waiting on results. I’m just wondering if she has this cancer.

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Jennifer March 5, 2014 at 2:49 pm

I have been worried sick about my dog every since he started having a uti that didn’t clear up with the first dose of antibiotics. He seems to be doing better on stronger amoxicillin. Ultra sound showed a tumor on his urethra. His bladder was very swollen And he couldn’t pee, now he has to strain to pee and it takes his a little whole to go, he also has been peeing a lot. Last night he peed himself in his sleep and seems to think its ok to strain in the house and pee on the floor. Has anyone else had these same things happen and if so does it get better with meds or is the end closing in on us? I don’t know how I’m going to say good bye, it scares me.

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Erin March 18, 2014 at 9:57 am

Jennifer, I don’t know if your situation has gotten better since you posted this, but since no one had replied yet, I wanted to at least pass on what I know. My vet diagnosed my dog with a tumor in his bladder and partway down his urethra. He had been doing the same as your dog- straining to go, going often and in the house. I decided not to do chemo due to his age and so I have him on Metacam- a type of NSAID. That was 1 month ago and he seems to be at least holding steady. The vet did tell me, though, that the straining was a bad sign- if urine can’t get past the tumor, his bladder will burst which would be a painful way to go. So I’d recommend getting your dog on some kind of meds asap, or at least going to get another ultrasound to see what the status of the tumor is. Good luck.

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Rae March 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm

My 11 year old beagle was diagnosed with TCC, spread to lymph nodes. We have been dealing with UTI since Dec and all the classic symptoms. She has also had surgery for a cancerous tumor on February 14th. On this same day she had X-rays and the next day radiologists reviewed confirmed that cancer had spread to her lungs.

So much information in such a little time. She has always been such a docile little one, you can tell that her disposition has changed, when she goes in the house she just looks at you with that, “I am sorry, I didn’t mean too”.

We have been give the option of putting our beloved baby girl down or putting her on meds, with the hope of extending her life for maybe three more months.

We lost our other beagle two years ago, I absolutely hate having to make these kinds of decisions. Why does it have to be so hard. My son who grew up with her is just heartbroken.

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Eric March 8, 2014 at 11:42 pm

I’m sorry to hear about these stories, but it has also been reassuring that I made the right decision with our dog. Our 10 yr old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix had a large cancerous tumor removed in January. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with advanced cancer and recently with advanced TCC recently. This afternoon we made the difficult decision to euthanaize her. It was excruciating. Especially since she was still moderately happy and robust (although she – like most dogs – hid her symptoms well.)

Her symptoms, which started about a week ago, were similar if not identical to what others have posted: The most obvious was the the extreme difficulty urinating (if she was even able to urinate at all after a long time in the yard). Because of her full bladder, she would also strain in the house (something she never ever would have done.) At night, urine would trickle out when she slept and we had to use training pads on her sleep cushion. Just as has been described in this forum, a tumor was pressing against her urethra, basically closing the tube to a pinhole and preventing flow almost completely. Her bladder was completely full and very large. Toxic urine had also started being absorbed by her body, or would do so soon.

The decision for us to euthanize was based on this: surgery was too dangerous and really not an option and attempting to drain the bladder with a syringe or by catheter was not only dangerous, but was not resolving the issue. Her bladder was days (if not hours) from bursting and if that happened, it would not only be painful but would be preceeded by non-stop discomfort from the full bladder.

As others have mentioned, our decision was based on allowing her to avoid a tortuous death and instead, die with dignity and peace.

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cbwright March 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Mable update – sadly, I had to say good-bye to Mable on Tuesday. Since her diagnosis in Oct. 2013, she lived another great 5 months with chemo and steroids. However, the tumors in her lungs stopped responding to treatment and grew very large in a short period of time. The oncologist and I discussed 3 options: 1) keep her in the hospital and let them treat the pain until she passed, 2) take her home and keep her on pain meds until she passed, or 3) euthanize her now before her organs began to slowly shut down. I didn’t want her to suffer any more.
The vet gave her enough pain meds so I could take her home for a few hours. We laid on the bed and I petted her for a long long time.
My heart goes out to all of you. It’s such a deep, profound sadness.

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Jeff April 1, 2014 at 7:09 am

I am really saddened to read all of the posts regarding this terrible disease and our loved ones. My dog was 14 when she was initially diagnosed in January of 2013 and is still alive today. She is currently battling a UTI. She has been on Prioxicam every other day since initially being diagnosed. She could not tolerate taking it daily (upset stomach). She has been on chemo drugs Mitoxantrone, vinblastine, and chlorambucil. After some initial positive results trying each of those drugs with the Piroxicam, the cancer has still spread and her tumors still continue to grow. Here is a link to a lot of information about the disease:

http://www.vet.purdue.edu/pcop/urinary-bladder-cancer-research.php

I was taking her to Purdue University and I encourage anyone who can to take their pet there. They are experts regarding the disease.

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Tracy April 3, 2014 at 11:59 am

I am so sorry for your those of you who have lost your loved ones.
My lovely adopted Keeshond “Paris “who we think is 13,was diagnosed December 12, 2013. His symptoms started in late October .
He had an ultrasound after countless urine samples, antibiotics for a suspected UTI and an X-ray . It is such devastating news.
My vet who has since retired told me there was nothing we could do as chemo was temporary at best, surgery would cause it to spread and because of his age.
I read the book I found on the Internet about curing dogs with cancer.
Paris has been on piroxicam since the first week in January . This has given him much comfort. I am giving him several holistic remedies daily.
He eats a diet of puréed vegetable and fish which has really helped clear up old skin problems. I give him 1/2 cup of yogurt mixed with a tbsp of cod liver oil each morning and mix in one beta glucan capsule. At night with dinner he has the other cancer fighting remedy called ave ultra.
I have also tried acupressure taught to me by my acupuncturist using a specific laser pointer.
I know in my heart this is temporary. However he is happy and for the most part “accident” free if we get him out every 2 hours. He does strain when outside and pees frequently on walks. He will still run happily on the beach and have an all out chase of a bird or squirrel!
He loves his rubs and cuddles. And has a voracious appetite, but over the months has lost 12 lbs total. he was overweight so its not all bad
.For now we will cherish every day.
I am so grateful to have had these last few months. After reading your letters although so devastatingly sad ;I feel better prepared to face the future. Thank you

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valerie April 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

My 12 yr old shepherd/collie/husky mix was diagnosed with TCC 4 days ago. Have had to had his bladder drained twice since then. Luckily the cancer has not spread anywhere else. Lymph nodes, lungs, spine is clear. Surgery not recommended by specialist. Very painful operation and dogs usually end up with incontinence after. Glad I was told that as husband was ready to cash in an RRSP. He seems fine, except for the constant leaking of bloody urine. Mats everywhere in the house. Any suggestions of a type of diaper for him would be appreciated. He’s 85 lbs and can’t find one at the pet store big enough.
I started him on piroxicam today. I hope it works.
Does anyone know if the piroxicam helps stop the leakage?
Thank you.

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Debbie May 27, 2014 at 12:05 pm

Hi, I’ve heard of others buying adult depends or generic brand diapers and cutting a hole for the tail. They come in all sizes small would probably work for you. If you have thrift or second hand stores near you, they usually get them as donations and sell them very cheaply. I hope this helps you. I’m not sure if the piroxicam helps; I chose to go with a natural product instead. My Rusty still has control, but very frequently needs to go out to pee. It’s very hard because he doesn’t act sick. Best of luck to you and your 12 year old.

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Pat April 9, 2014 at 9:26 am

I have a 10yr old golden retriever. In March she was urinating all blood. Vet did labs and they were very bad. Vet treated her for bladder infection .Did labs again better but not good. Did X-ray for stones. Negative for stones referred us for ultrasound. Shows very large mass, approximately 1/3 size of bladder however not in the urethea area. Now on piroxicam Pepcid and antibiotics for 30days. Then another ultrsound to check for growth or shrinkage of mass. If larger surgery was mentioned. Does anyone out there have an idea of survival rate for dog her age. She has no systems of frequent urination or accidents or straining to urinate. Thanks.

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Scott June 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Hi Pat, my dog is 11 years old and in a similar situation to your retriever. His tumor is along the top of his bladder away from the urethra so other than blood in the urine he seems to be voiding just fine. He’s on piroxicam too – the doc advised we have his kidneys checked monthly because piroxicam is very hard on kidneys and the digestive track.

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Amelia July 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Hi Pat, I am going through the same thing you are. My 10 year old Sheltie has TCC and is in the same place as your golden. No trouble peeing but a lot of blood and clots. He has had his limit of chemo (5 treatments) and now she changed his piroxicam to deramaxx and will be starting him on Lukeran chemo pills in the hope he stops peeing blood. I read all the survival rates out there but every dog is different. I pray every night hoping someone comes up with a miracle treatment that will kill this disease. I will pray for your golden right along with my sheltie prayers. Let me know how she is doing as often as possible. I will keep you informed should anything new come around Sincerely, Amelia

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Annette April 24, 2014 at 8:15 am

My dog Jess is a 6 year old miniature schnauzer. Like everyone else thought she had urine infection – straining to pee, peeing in the house, blood in her urine. Antibiotics for two weeks which did not help. Yesterday vet felt a tumour in a her bladder – the size of a golf ball!! They have given her medication to try and shrink it and she has an appt on 7th May for blood test, scan and xrays. To me what I had read the prognosis is not good – I am thinking I may only have two weeks left with my little one and am so upset. Please pray for Jess – thank you x

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Karen April 30, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Dear Annette, You are not alone. Your little Jess is not feeling well. He time with you is precious. My little 7yo. Maltese Sammy Soc’s had say goodbye last year. He was in a lot of pain, but you would never know by looking at him. So strong, and loving he wanted to be with me always. The Anitbiotics work for a short period of time, then it’s Piroxicam & Cefpodixime.Valium to calm him down with the pain, Pepto Bismol for his upset (diarrhea) stomach…iron supplements…all to make him comfortable. Sam lasted over 6mths till he couldn’t urinate anymore. I was there! He had to leave me. It’s almost a year…he’s in my soul & heart every day of my life. Just make Jess comfortable & be there with her…sleep with her, eat, love her…let her know your there for her. Don’t let her suffer. They are our children. I wish someone would stop this TCC Cancer. God Bless You & Jess. Karen

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Karen April 30, 2014 at 3:17 pm

I apologize for my misspelled words. But, my heart goes out to you and Jess. I have tears in my eyes for what you & Jess are going through. I will pray for you both in church this Sunday. My God’s Angels be with you both. Karen

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Scott June 3, 2014 at 4:37 pm

We’re going to put my best buddy Franklin on morphine when the time comes, he’s on tramadol now. He’s not ready to go, he still eats and plays and wants his tummy rubbed and shows lots of affection like he always did. He trusts me implicitly and I just can’t make the decision to off my dog unless he asks me to. One minute he’s here, the next minute he isn’t – I just can’t do that to him unless he’s in uncontrollable pain. I already have a doctor who will make sure he’s close to pain-free, then he can go naturally. And then it’s going to be a long while before I go through this again with another dog. Truly awful.

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Laura June 27, 2014 at 5:14 am

Hi,
My 11 year old boston terrier Libbey was diagnosed in April 2013. In the summer of 2012 she was having a surgery to have some mast cell tumors removed and they did an ultrasound to check for spread and saw what they told me was a polyp in her bladder and that we should just keep an eye on it but that it was nothing to worry about. Fast forward to March of 2013 and we had a late snowfall and I noticed a little pink when she urinated. I took her to the vet to have an ultraound to check in the “polyp”. We had tge ultraound and the “polyp” had grown and removal was recommended. We had the surgery and the recovery was a nightmare with much pain, straining and clots. We finally got the call from the biopsy and tcc was the unfortunate diagnosis. We were utterly devaststed and shocked after being told it was a polyp. Chemo was offered but to be honest my faith in vets was shaken. We wanted to taje her home and love her and that’s what we are doing. She eats a variety mix that I make for her in my vitamixer with the main ingredient being broccoli which had many antioxidants that are cancer fighting. She takes piroxicam every other day and takes zantac daily to protect her belly. She had accidents but does her best to get to the puppy pads. We are blessed that our carpet is old and needs replaced anyway. We are just trying to enjoy and love her and be thankful for today. I can not express what a sweet innocent soul my Libbey is who I hate to see enduring the wrath of this devastating dosease. I’ve read the contributing factors for this disease to include smoking and pesticides which we do neither. Libbey has grown up with my daughter and is such an important and loved member of our family. She is one of the sweetest souls bearing fur that God has ever put breath into. Just last week we found out that our cat may have cancer and I am taking him today to have a growth removed.

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Amelia July 10, 2014 at 7:13 am

Hi,everyone. I wanted to tell everyone my story as my 10 year old Sheltie Butch was diagnosed with TCC in February of 2014. The tumor is not blocking the opening of this bladder or anywhere near but is located on the back part of his bladder. The oncologist convinced us to do chemo (which has taken a toll on our bank account). In the beginning it stopped the blood in his urine after one week but then the tumors became resistant to that chemo so she tried him on another which is not working either. He is still peeing blood and clots. She thinks that maybe it the tumors dying but I’m not sure anymore. I don’t know if she is just trying to make us feel better or not. She just changed the piroxicam to Deramaxx to see if that will stop the bleeding and she is starting him on Lukeran July 19th. I cannot stop crying. I’m at work and crying while I’m writing this and I cry myself to sleep every night praying for him to be better but deep in my heart I know that will not happen. My husband is dying slowly with my boy. That is his shadow and follows my husband everywhere. My heart is so broken. Hard to concentrate on my work. I read all your stories and feel awful for everyone as I feel the same as you do. I’m hoping someone out there has some miracle before I have to put my poor boy down. This is terrible. I’m am devastated. God bless everyone dealing with this disease. My heart goes out to everyone. Should I happen to get some good news I will let everyone know, maybe there will be some hope out there for us who have not lost or babies yet.

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ava laxton July 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

My little Scottie Gracie has been diagnosed with late stage bladder cancer. We are trying to make her as comfortable as possible. I know what the vet has told us but can anyone give me an idea what to look for when the end time is closer? We can not stand the thought of her suffering . She is 10 and so much apart of our family. So sad in Tennessee.

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Lynn August 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I just found out our sheltie 11 years old has tcc- she has no symptoms – was having other ultra sounds done on her heart and liver, and they found bladder cancer. We have already consented to the piroxicam. I am looking for anyone who had their dog on the chemo drug mitoxantrone. I would like to know how it worked and if the quality of life was better than with just the piroxicam. We just found out last thursday 8-7-14. I have read so much on all of this and really want to make the right decision for her. We don’t want to do anything that will cause her issues or make her suffer. She takes several meds now for really bad arthritis. Vet said if we do both the drugs we might see a year she cant make that a promise. I trust what my vet is trying to do, just not sure about the chemo drug. I have seen humans on chemo and they all say they wouldn’t do it again.. so why would i put my dog through that.. my heart is broken about my baby!! thank you for any information.

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nan August 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Our shelter rescue pure Sheltie may have had symptoms for a while. (Guessing he is 10 to12, we have had him 8 yrs) He weighed only 10 lbs when brought to the local shelter by animal control, and had been seen in a nearby small town for about a month before being picked up. (We neutered him)
He never made much effort to lift his leg to urinate and we called him a stealth pisser, as he would sometimes leave small spots in our house for the last year or so ……. never realizing this was a symptom he is now urinating the spots followed by blood. He is straining so….
On the (far) outside chance it is an infection he is on antibiotics. I just wonder if he could be taking something to make him more comfortable. Now he is eating and drinking well and still running and barking at noises outside with the other 3 dogs…….but he is obviously uncomfortable…
Should we have something else for him???? Something I could ask for???? He is so sweet and I don’t want him to suffer but this is pretty far along already. Thanks for all your input here and sorry for all of your losses. …

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