Who wants to know about canine cancer? Most pet owners who do not have a dog with cancer really do not want to talk about it, or know anything about it. It is a scary subject! No one wants to think (or believe) that their dog might get cancer.
This is why when a dog does get cancer, the owner often doesn’t know much about how to treat, help, love or live with a dog who has cancer. Your vet has a great deal of infomration on the subject, but there is a lot that they will not include in the mini-education speech they offer you. Your vet can’t possibly tell you everything – they would spend a hundred hours with each client!
And they don’t really know your dog, or you. If you want to be a great advocate, you will participate in decisions about your dog’s treatment.
Your dog, your money, your decisions!In order to participate, you need some information about canine cancer. It’s hard to put it all together quickly, but time is of the essence! While an owner is researching and reading and listening, the cancer is progressing. The information on this site and in my book will provide you with what an owner should know.
Types of Treatments
If possible, a tumor should be removed with clean margins. Unfortunately, sometimes more treatment is needed. Your dog might need a 2nd surgery or chemo or radiation therapy after the surgery.
There is usually a “best” chemo protocol for a particular type of cancer. But there are many options that effect dosages, scheduling and fees.
Protocols are not written in stone! They can be customized to fit the unique needs of the dog and family.
There are usually options about radiation therapy. One protocol may require treatments every day Monday-Friday for 5 weeks, and another may require 3 treatments a week for 4 weeks.
It’s important to note that in many cases, the protocol that your vet calls “curative” may not be. The cancer returns. While a lighter protocol that your vet calls “palliative” may actually be curative. The cancer does not return.
Some cancers can be managed with alternative measures. See a holistic vet for ideas about supplements, Chinese herbs, acupuncture, etc.
Sometimes there is no treatment available, or finances are limited. Sometimes a dog’s age or personality will rule out treatment.
In this case, the goal is not to give treatment that will get rid of the cancer. The goal is to provide your dog with comfort and love until the cancer progresses. The goal is to make your dog comfortable and pain free for as long as possible.
In some cases, palliative continues for quite a long time.
When a dog is diagnosed with cancer, euthanasia is an option. Try not to resort to euthanasia while your dog is still enjoying a good quality of life! Treasure all of your time with him.
Many people are unsure if they will know when “it’s time.” You will know! You know your dog.
Order my book So Easy to Love, So Hard to Lose: A Bridge to Healing.
Carbs are BAD. Cancer gobbles them up. Omega-3 fatty acids (flax seed oil and fish oil) are GOOD. They nourish your dog. Want a home made diet? See Bullet's Cancer Diet in my book.
Use antioxidants (Cordyceps, Pycnogenol, etc.), and Immune boosters (K-9 Immunity, IP-6, etc.). L-Glutamine is urgent during chemo to protect the small intestines from damage by the drugs.
Make a plan: Where will you take your dog if he needs urgent care in the middle of the night? Ask your vet for pain medications to keep at home in case there is an emergency.
Your dog will know if you are stressed or sad and will wonder what he did wrong. Let your dog see how happy you are that he is still here with you. Not how sad you are that he has cancer.
When that last day comes, you should be totally available to lovingly help your dog through the end. Make end-of-life decisions now. Cremation or burial? Which clinic will you call?