Dog cancers vary in their prognosis and in their treatment. Cancer in dogs does not always present the same issues as it does with cancer in people.
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Cancer in Dogs
Dogs get cancer like people do and respond to it in many of the same ways but in some different ways as well. The first thing you want to know when your dog is diagnosed with cancer is what type of cancer is it. Many cancers in dogs are treatable with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or other types of therapies.
One of the most treatable cancers is dog lymphoma. There is a very good treatment regimen that can extend your dog’ s life by months or even a full year. Remember, a year to a dog is equal to seven human years.
With a cancer diagnosis, you want to weigh all of your options. Dogs tend to handle chemotherapy very well and don’t have the same psychological aspects regarding cancer and chemotherapy that humans do. Dogs do not lose their hair and if they have reactions to drugs then those drugs can be changed somewhat.
If your dog has a tough time handling chemotherapy, then you and your vet have to weigh if it is even worth it. Ask yourself if you want to treat your dog for you or for them. Sometimes it is a combination and there is no right answer. If your dog handles the chemotherapy well and finances are not an issue then it may be worth treating. The key is to explore all of the treatment opportunities and put aside any preconceived notions you may have about chemotherapy and cancer treatment. Go to a referral center or even speak with your vet as they may have chemotherapy options available. Have an open mind and explore all options. Find out what the financial aspect and treatment side effects are and make a balanced decision. Many times, your dog will handle things very well.
Ask your oncologist about the drug side affects and the survival percentages. Oncologists talk in terms of survival times as the number of months your dog will live after treatment. Ask yourself whether your dog has the temperament to be treated. Skittish, fearful, and aggressive dogs have a traumatic experience with weekly and monthly vet visits to have blood drawn, IV’s placed or be sedated for radiation.
These are many new cancer therapies available and many dogs have good survival rates. It is worth your time to explore your options and consider all factors.
- Sam Meisler DVM
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