When we face the diagnosis of cancer in a beloved pet it is even more difficult, for we must make important and life changing decisions for our animal friends that rely totally on our own judgments for their well-being. We have experienced their love as unconditional, and we seek through our own decision making process to provide our pets with the highest quality and dignity of life which we know they deserve. Seeking the most appropriate care for these wonderful friends is the very least we can do as a response to their love and affection. Our goal becomes to share as many possible moments within this wonderful relationship.
In addition to treating pets, we treat families by providing emotional, intellectual, physical, and in some cases, spiritual support, as we strive to enhance a pet’s quality of care and life. Our oncologists and oncology technicians have created a welcoming and caring environment that encourages the families of our patients to participate in the management of their pet’s disease. We spend as much time as we need with each client to discuss various options they have in treating and caring for their pets. We believe in empowering and educating family members about cancer and work to dispel the myths and misconceptions they may have about the disease.
Why Treat Cancer
To many, the word cancer conveys a sense of darkness—and hopelessness. This is true regardless of whether the patient is a human family member or your pet. Also, all the terminology of cancer and its treatment conjures up images of horror and fear for those faced with making difficult decisions. There are many reasons why cancer is being treated more and more commonly including increased prevalence, awareness of cancer treatments, and because of the intense love many of us share with our pets.
Cancer is indeed becoming more common in our world. Many are surprised to learn that cancer is the number one natural cause of death in pets of all ages. It accounts for almost 50% of the deaths of older pets annually.
Other geriatric diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes mellitus are treatable, but rarely, if ever, curable. Cancer, on the other hand, is potentially curable in many forms and may also be manageable with appropriate understanding and therapy.
Your veterinarian is a key resource to lead you to the best treatments for your pet. Angiostatin, endostatin, Herceptin, gene therapy, metalloproteinase inhibitors, laser surgery, and steriotactically delivered radiation therapy have become topics of daily conversation. Many people are aware of these amazing advances in cancer care for people. Understandably, these same people search for the same potential for cure and control for their pets. Your veterinarian has amazing resources to ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.
Perhaps the best reason to think about caring for your pet with cancer is the most difficult to completely explain. Many people are willing to seek out treatment for their pet with cancer because they have often shared a decade or more of experiences. Regardless of how much time you have spent with your pet, most know that these friends give provide unconditional love through triumphs and tragedies. Therefore, caring for your best friend to enhance the quality of life is often perceived as a great gift of love in exchange for this love, loyalty, and affection.
Caring for your Pet with Cancer
The First Steps
Cancer, the word is frightening in part because there are so many myths and misperceptions about cancer. However, almost all pets with cancer can be helped. Empowering yourself with appropriate information allows you to begin the process of finding ways you can join with your veterinary health care team to help your best friend. Your pet not only shares your home, your life, and your experiences but also your heart. Seeking the most appropriate care will allow you to spend as much time as possible with your special friend.
Empower Yourself with Information
You can defeat the darkness of cancer with knowledge. Work with your veterinary health care team to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatment. Be proactive. Ask questions and obtain resources to tear away the many misconceptions about cancer and cancer therapies. Tackling the emotional aspects of cancer can enhance your ability to think clearly, make decisions, and begin to find the hope and opportunities that lie before you as you deal with your pet’s cancer.
Pick a Good Team
As your pet’s primary caregiver, you are in the best position to know and meet your pet’s needs and desires. Your greatest task is to find a veterinary health care team that is experienced in cancer care and committed to working with you as a member of that team. Once the right team is forged, everyone can provide truly compassionate care. Compassionate care requires that your pet is as free as possible from the adverse effects that may be associated with cancer and cancer care. This includes freedom from pain, nausea, and starvation. Ask your veterinary health care team about what supportive care measures can be undertaken to enhance the quality of your pet’s life.
Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian
A lot of questions may be going through your mind, and we are here to answer them for you.
Below is a printable PDF with questions you can discuss with your veterinarian healthcare team.
Meet Pip. An American Kennel Club Tracking Champion who fought several tumors including mast cell tumor, breast cancer, adrenal tumor, thyroid cancer, a benign tumor near the anus, and hemangiosarcoma of skin. Her trailblazing spirit still did not stop her from herding sheep at her home while battling cancer.
The absolutely adorable Coffee cat may look familiar to some of you. An international social media celebrity, Coffee has 1.2 million followers on Instagram. His fans followed and supported him and his family through his cancer journey. Coffee was diagnosed with Lymphoma and underwent 25 weeks of chemotherapy. He is in remission!
Special Care Foundation for Companion Animals
What is the Special Care Foundation?
The Special Care Foundation is a nonprofit organization, 501(C)(3) organization that unites veterinarians with leaders from academia, health care, pharmacology and biotechnology to promote accelerated collaboration in research to find compassionate care solutions via medical, surgical, radiological, nutritional, natural, physical and supportive options while enhancing the life of the “whole patient.”
We are a team of compassionate people who offer their specialized knowledge, skills, and expertise to meet the medical needs of each pet and the non-medical requirements of every individual who brings their beloved animal to us.