Helpful information and resources on what you can do if your pet is diagnosed with cancer:
- Make an appointment to see an oncologist. Find out about the type of cancer your dog has, get it staged, ask for a prognosis, and what the recommended treatment protocol is for that particular treatment. Ask questions about each treatment protocol.
- There are usually a few different options, dependent on personal choice (ie holistic treatments or traditional Western Medicine), and also depending on what can be afforded
Some of the most common treatments include:
- Prednisone only protocol
- CHOP Chemo protocol (this is the most common, most effective multi-drug protocol, also known as the Wisconsin-Madison protocol)
- Variations of the CHOP
- Various single drug protocols, dependent on the type of cancer
Things to Remember
The thing to remember is that there is no wrong decision when it comes to your dogâ€™s treatment. You need to become your dogâ€™s advocate. Ask many questions about the pros and cons of each, how it will prolong your dogâ€™s life, side effects, what the home care is for each and what to expect.
- Nearly all chemotherapy side effects impact the gastrointestinal tract, so the expected side effects are nausea and diarrhea. Dogs handle chemotherapy much better than humans, and don’t suffer hair loss etc. The doses given are much lower than in humans and dogs react very well, often having months of cancer-free remissions, where owners report health and energy they haven’t seen since puppyhood! One thing to remember is to make sure you are prepared in the rare event your dog does experience worse side effects than expected. (Bronx happened to fall into this category, which is less than 5% of dogs!)
- Stock up on anti nausea and anti-diarrhea meds. If your dog does get sick, talk to your oncologist about using the meds as preventative care.
- Your dog is going to need more care than usual. For the first few weeks, clear your schedule and make sure you are there if your dog needs you, or make sure someone is watching your dog. Once you know how your dog reacts, you can go back to your normal schedule.
- Be prepared for midnight emergency vet calls and visits. Sometimes a dog with cancer starts having other health complications, especially once the cancer has become terminal.
- Find support! You are going to need it! Look for cancer communities online, talk to others who have dogs with cancer and can give you advice, make sure you have your oncologists cell phone number to answer any questions and research, research, research!
- Most of all, try to calm down and spend quality time with your dog. They need a secure, positive environment while they are battling cancer. Treat them as you always would. Take them to the dog park! Love them like mad!
- I can’t highlight the questioning enough- if you know what to expect during your dogs journey, you will be a better navigator and your dog will benefit from that. Find out what to expect, what symptoms to look out for that show your dogs cancer is progressing, what symptoms would need emergency care, what to expect from the cancer as time goes on. We found that Bronx kept changing during this treatment. His body shape, personality and energy levels changed every week! Lately its been changing almost daily.
- The dog will have good and bad days. Sometimes your dog will have ups and downs all day.
- The hardest part of battling cancer is knowing when your dog has reached the end of his battle. Again, there are no bad decisions here.
- Speak to your vet or oncologist to help you calculate your dogâ€™s quality of life. Once the quality of life is no longer there, it may be time to humanely euthanize. Often this involves the dogâ€™s ability to walk, eat, play and control of bodily functions.
There are a variety of funds of there to help people pay for their dogâ€™s cancer treatments- itâ€™s always worth it to speak to these people because they offer invaluable advice. Also apply for a Care Credit Card
Some very useful resources: