If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, you may believe that the most humane thing to do would be to have him or her euthanized, and in some cases, this is the right choice. However, it is not the only choice. These days, veterinary medicine has advanced and can provide a variety of effective, and often affordable, treatments for dogs with cancer. There are also some natural treatments that can help ease your dog’s symptoms. In this article, we review options for treating dog cancer. Read on to learn more.
Is It Possible To Cure A Dog With Cancer?
While cure is possible and may sometimes be the result of treatment, it is not the goal in treatment of canine cancer. Because dogs are not able to understand that they must undergo some suffering in the hopes of recovery, veterinarians seek to provide treatment that will ease symptoms and pain and may spur remission. When this is successful, the patient gains better quality and quantity of life. Sometimes this sort of treatment leads to cure.
What Are The Treatment Options For Dogs With Cancer?
The precise treatment your dog will receive will be determined through consultation with your vet or veterinary oncologist. The decision will be based upon the specific type of cancer your dog has, along with other factors pertaining to his or her health. Choices typically include chemotherapy, radiation and/or surgery. Antibody and immunotherapy treatments are also possible.
In most cases, your vet or veterinary oncologist will work with these three choices:
1. Surgery: Surgical removal of the cancer is very often the go-to treatment because, when it is successful, it may be the only treatment needed. If the entire cancerous growth cannot be removed surgically, radiation or chemotherapy may be needed.
2. Chemotherapy: This term refers to the use of a variety of drugs that are administered in a number of different ways. Chemotherapy drugs may be given to your dog:
Chemotherapy treats the dog’s entire system. When it is introduced, it travels all through the dog’s body and battles microscopic disease.
3. Radiation Therapy: This is a localized treatment that is often used to treat tumors that cannot be removed surgically. Examples include tumors on the brain or the heart. Additionally, cancers such as lymphoma, which are not contained in a single location, may be treated with half-body or whole-body radiation.
Do Dogs Experience Side Effects From Chemotherapy?
For some dogs, the symptoms that result from chemotherapy treatment cannot be treated through supplementary medicines. In this case, chemotherapy may be removed from the possibilities.
Your vet will keep a close eye on your dog’s condition and progress throughout the treatment process. Regular blood testing, along with communication with you regarding your dog’s behavior and overall condition will keep your vet informed of possible complications. He or she will adjust the types and dosages of drugs used in response to this information.
Because vets use a low amount of chemotherapy drugs when treating dogs, side-effects are rare and mild. Some breeds of dogs may have thinning of the hair coat. They may experience occasional nausea and/or diarrhea immediately after treatment, along with some loss of appetite. Long term treatment may cause anemia and/or bone marrow suppression, which are both treatable side effects.
Do Dogs Experience Side Effects From Radiation Treatments?
Radiation therapy side effects are mild. Because dogs are sedated for the treatments, some people think that there must be pain involved, but this is not the case. The sedation is just meant to keep the dog still for the duration of the treatment.
Radiation therapy is typically administered on a daily basis for 16-20 days. Sessions typically take five or ten minutes. Immediately after treatment, your dog may feel achy and fatigued. Sometimes skin problems result from treatment.
Is Cancer Treatment For Dogs Expensive?
Of course, like any medical care, cancer treatment for dogs is not cheap, and it may be difficult or impossible to get an accurate estimate of costs at the outset. Typically, your vet will tell you his or her rates and outline a plan of treatment. This will allow you to calculate a ballpark figure, but treatments may take more or less time depending on individual circumstances, so an exact figure cannot reasonably be presented.
Of course, the severity of your dog’s condition plays a big role in the determination of cost. Some types of cancer in dogs can be dealt with for a few hundred dollars. Others may end up costing thousands of dollars to treat. Fortunately, cancer is one condition that pet insurance usually covers, so it’s wise to invest in this type of coverage when your pet is young so that you can be prepared as he or she ages.
Are There Natural Treatments For Cancer In Dogs?
There are a couple of supplements that can be used preventatively or that may be helpful when used in conjunction with veterinary treatment. Talk with your vet before adding anything to your dog’s treatment plan.
- 1Cannabidiol (CBD) is a derivative of medicinal hemp that has been shown to be a good overall tonic for dogs and other mammals. It provides effective pain relief and contributes to healthy skin and eyes, as well as supporting heart health. There is also some evidence that it can kill cancer cells.
Unlike most cells, cancer cells do not die a natural death. Instead, as they age, they divide and mutate (metastasize) to become tumors. Regular consumption of CBD can help kill these cells off before they have a chance to spread.
As an added benefit, consumption of CBD (through hemp seed oil or ground hemp seed) improves appetite and helps your dog maintain healthy skin and coat throughout veterinary treatment for cancer. This widely available, affordable supplement also provides an array of vitamins and minerals and can be a good addition to your dog’s treatment plan, with the go-ahead from your vet.
- 2Adding Turkey Tail Mushrooms to your dog’s diet can help extend his or her life and improve quality of life after surgery and/or chemotherapy for cancer. This natural supplement contains ergosterol, which has antioxidant and anti-tumor properties.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms are widely used as cancer fighting agents in human patients in Japan, where it is used as a form of natural chemotherapy. It is quite effective and produces no side effects. Additionally, this natural supplement provides immune system support.
Correct Diet Supports Cancer Therapy
Just as with people, dogs need a nourishing diet to help fight off illness and cope with the challenges presented by cancer treatment. Talk with your vet to identify a type of food that is easy for your dog to digest while still delivering balanced nutrition to support health and recovery.
Work With Your Vet To Devise A Palliative Care Plan
Palliative care is a term used to describe the type of care given to patients living with serious medical conditions. It is a treatment plan that focuses on making life easier for the patient and caregivers while giving the patient relief from the stress and symptoms of the illness. Your vet can help you identify affordable, workable palliative care treatments that will extend and improve the time you and your dog have together.