Scottish Terriers

Recently, I attended a birthday party for this handsome boy.  J.R. turned six.  Like all Scottish Terriers, this inquisitive guy likes to keep track of everything and everyone around him.  He ‘protects’ his property from rabbits and other critters and is a loving companion.  As a bonus, he keeps the floors clean earning him the nickname of Hoover after the vacuum cleaner.

J.R. is a healthy Scottie.  But unfortunately, Scottish Terriers can develop cancer.  Name the kind of cancer and where it is located.



Unfortunately, Scottish Terriers are prone to a serious form of cancer called Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC).  The tumor often occurs in the trigone area of the urinary bladder where the ureters connect.  Dogs with this condition may strain to urinate, urinate frequently and/or have bloody urine.  From a veterinarian’s viewpoint, the cancer is sometimes difficult to diagnose because these same signs often occur with a simple urinary tract infection.  In fact, many of the signs improve with antibiotic therapy because the tumor is often associated with infections. 

To diagnose this condition, I start with a standard urinalysis and abdominal x-rays.  Sometimes tumor cells will show up making the diagnosis easy.  The next step is a Bladder Tumor Antigen test.  Although it is highly specific, the drawback to this test is false positives.  So I always recommend an ultrasound or contrast cystography to confirm the presence of a tumor.  Surgical removal of the tumor offers the best chance to ‘cure’ these patients but is not always possible if located in the trigone area.  Chemotherapy alone or in combination with surgery has made great strides in giving these patients relief from the symptoms.

Studies have shown that feeding vegetables and preventing exposure to phenoxy compounds in herbicide treated lawns will decrease the incidence of TCC.  J.R. eats his vegetables three times a week.  With this kind of care, I hope to help him celebrate many birthdays to come.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY J.R.! 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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