If your dog is experiencing issues with urination, don't simply chalk them up to kidney stones -- although those, too, require prompt veterinary attention. Troubles with urination in some cases can signify bladder cancer, which is a disease that can be life-threatening to many affected dogs.
Only a veterinarian can determine exactly what's causing a dog's urinary woes. Telltale symptoms of bladder cancer sometimes overlap with those of other conditions, such as kidney stones and bladder stones. They also sometimes overlap with those of urinary tract infections. The frequent urge to pass urine, for example, can appear in dogs with bladder cancer, kidney stones and urinary tract infections -- all three distinct health ailments.
Bladder Stones and Kidney Stones
If you notice any blood in your pet's urine, there's a strong chance it's due to bladder stones, according to Shawn Messonnier, veterinarian and author of "The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs." Although bloody urine generally signifies bladder stones, they're sometimes indicative of bladder cancer, too. Dogs with kidney stones often pass bloody urine as well, which is why some concerned owners might mistake situations of bladder cancer for those of nephrolithiasis -- kidney stones. Many pooches develop bladder stones, but cases of kidney stones in canines are few and far between.
Bladder Cancer Vulnerabilities
Knowledge of vulnerabilities for bladder cancer can sometimes be helpful for dog owners. Elderly canines are especially susceptible to bladder cancer, according to the writers of "The Whole Dog Journal." Female pooches are also thought to be more prone to bladder tumors, perhaps because they don't urinate as often as males, Messonnier says. They retain urine longer, and so potentially boost contact with urine carcinogens. Fixed dogs, regardless of gender, are believed to be more vulnerable to bladder cancer. Obese dogs are thought to be especially prone to the cancer, too. Bladder cancer is not as common as many other cancers in canines.
Symptoms and Veterinary Attention
If you ever notice any problems in your pet's urination, take him to the veterinarian, pronto. Bladder cancer is typically characterized not only by bloody urine but also by urination stinging and discomfort. Many dogs with bladder cancer also exhibit signs of lowered appetite and reduced weight, to start. Dogs with kidney stones experience similar symptoms, including extreme discomfort in urination. Throwing up is also a common sign of kidney stones in canines.