If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, you will feel overwhelmed and have many questions. Today, our Stockton specialist vets lay out some steps you could take to gain a calmer perspective and a clear understanding of what to expect if my dog has cancer.
Finding Our That Your Pet Has Cancer
If you have just received a cancer diagnosis for your pet, it's easy to feel helpless and anxious, but following the steps below can help you to view the situation from a much calmer perspective.
1. Keep in mind that cancer in pets is common.
It's not unusual for pets to develop cancer. As animals age, their immune system becomes weaker and the risk of cancer increases, similar to people. You and your pet are not alone during these difficult times, as dogs also get cancer at about the same rate as humans (cats end up with fewer cancers).
While most cancers are found in senior pets, some breeds have higher cancer rates than others. You may find joining pet communities on social media or in person helpful. There may be some great support groups for pet owners coping with sick animals in your area. Finding solidarity and community with like-minded people in similar situations may help to counteract some of the fear, worry, and isolation you may be experiencing.
Keep in mind that online groups are usually managed by other pet owners, not necessarily mental health practitioners. Consider counseling if you are feeling the need for more psychological support or grief support.
2. Discuss your pet's specific cancer with your vet.
Another similarity with people, pets can develop many types of cancer, each of which behaves differently. Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body and is often referred to as malignancy and neoplasia. These other terms are often used interchangeably.
While some types of cancer are able to rapidly spread to other parts of the body far from the original site (metastasis), others may be more easily treated or surgically removed if they are caught early enough.
As with any diagnosis in a four-legged or two-legged creature, it's prudent to educate yourself about the disease, any options you may have for treatment and support, cost considerations, and the advantages and disadvantages of treating your pet.
3. Learn about your dog's cancer treatment options.
Several types of treatment and therapy options may be used to treat an animal with cancer, depending on the specific case and circumstances. These may include immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, surgery, and/or palliative care when appropriate. While a single treatment or type of therapy may be used for some cancers, other types of the disease may require a combination (two or more different types of therapies).
Some pet owners choose to enroll their pets in clinical trials to test newer (and hopefully more effective) types of therapy. These trials allow participants to learn more about a specific form of treatment and perhaps benefit your pet.
4. See a Board-Certified Veterinary Oncologist in Stockton.
Your pet's cancer diagnosis is the first step in a long journey. You must make numerous decisions about support, treatment, and costs. Seeing a veterinary oncologist may help clarify some aspects of your pet's diagnosis and answer your questions. You may have the treatment course you originally chose as the best option or learn about new options for your pet.
Our Board-Certified Veterinary Specialists at Rosemarie Pet Hospital leverage cutting-edge diagnostics and treatments to provide the best possible oncological care for your pet with cancer. We are committed to working with your primary care veterinarian to treat your pet's condition. After an official diagnosis is received from your veterinary oncologist near Stockton, additional diagnostic testing (staging) can help to determine the extent to which cancer has developed. This will allow us to present targeted treatment options and better predict prognosis.
5. Become familiar with the terminology surrounding your pet's illness.
When you connect with our board-certified veterinarians and discuss veterinary oncology care in Stockton, our team can explain what's happening in your pet's body. Though we will explain as clearly as possible, it always helps to understand veterinary medical language. You may want to do a little reading before your visit so you'll be familiar with some of the terms when it comes to veterinary oncology. Remember to take notes on treatment options and the next steps that may be recommended. Please do not hesitate to ask questions - we are here to help!
6. Learn about how tumors are tested.
The veterinarian may order several tests to help determine the extent of cancer in your dog's body. These may include urinalysis, radiographs (ultrasound or X-rays), biopsy, blood tests (blood count, chemistry profile), and tissue aspirates. The changing nature of veterinary cancer might require these tests to be done again at our Stockton pet hospital, even if your primary care veterinarian has also done them.
Other tests that may be recommended include specialized radiologic studies (CT or MRI scans, dye contrast studies, lymph node aspirated, endoscopy, bone marrow aspirate, and immunologic studies.
Once testing has been done, your veterinarian will better understand the nature of the disease in your pet and review treatment options, including types of therapy. While tumors that have extensively metastasized (spread to other organs) are typically not curable, palliation may help to relieve symptoms and potentially prolong life without providing a cure. Tumors with the best chance of being treated or cured or those that have not invaded surrounding tissues.
7. Make your pet's quality of life your primary concern.
Cancer treatment for dogs and other pets focuses on alleviating pain and suffering as much as possible along with extending the life and ensuring that quality of life is preserved, for as long as possible. Whether your pet's best days consist of going for a hike with you, finding a warm place to nap in the house, or taking a dip in the lake, their quality of life is compromised when they can no longer enjoy these activities. Your veterinarian or dog oncologist in Stockton can sometimes prescribe medications or offer advice on managing symptoms to alleviate pain and suffering. Sometimes, euthanasia should be considered when a pet's quality of life is impacted beyond the point that this can be mitigated.
8. Understand the financial factors of treating your pet's cancer.
Most of us would love to say that money is no object when it comes to our pet's care, but most of us do not have that option. Pet medical care can quickly become costly, so if you have pet insurance, now is the time to use it! At Rosemarie Pet Hospital we accept most major credit cards and offer CareCredit and Scratchpay as options for financing your beloved pet's care. Both CareCredit and Scratchpay offer easy application processes that can give you results in minutes.
To help you with your budgeting we will always provide a good-faith estimate of the cost of our services and discuss our written estimate with all clients before they leave our facility. A deposit will be required based on our estimate. Keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances can occur that affect your final bill.
9. Maintain a normal routine.
Fun activities such as playing with your dog's favorite toys, going for walks, or ensuring they get outdoors for exercise will help you, and your pet maintain a healthy mindset. Pets enjoy routines that help them stay engaged and active, especially if they regularly visit your vet oncologist near Stockton for treatment.
10. Stay hopeful, but be realistic.
You and your pet need each other. While some pets may experience some discomfort due to therapy, cancer treatment for most pets can be accomplished without major distress or taking away from your pet's quality of or enjoyment of life. With you and your veterinarian's commitment to your pet's health and our state-of-the-art diagnostics and oncology care options, we'll work as a team to keep your pet as healthy as possible.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer our veterinary oncologist is here to help. Contact our Stockton specialist vets right away to book an appointment for your cherished pet!