Navigating Cancer in Pets

Homeless dogCancer is never a diagnosis anyone wants to hear, yet more people and pets alike are being diagnosed with this disease every year. Almost half of disease-related pet deaths each year are because of cancer.

So, what is a pet owner to do when they hear that their pet has cancer? As with many things, knowledge is power. Take a deep breath and keep reading to learn what you need to know if about cancer in pets.

Understanding Cancer in Pets

We hear the word cancer often, but not everyone understands what it actually is. When cancer is present, it means that the cells in a certain tissue of the body are dividing without any control. This means that they may interfere with, invade, or even destroy the areas adjacent to them. Some more aggressive forms of cancer may even spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body.

When a pet is diagnosed with cancer, it is important to understand that each type of cancer is different from the next. Some cancers are very localized and relatively harmless, while others are malignant and very aggressive. It is important for us to correctly diagnose and stage your pet’s cancer type before we can know how serious the diagnosis is and how aggressive we need to be.

Like most types of illness, cancer is best treated when caught early. It is important that your pet come in for regular wellness visits. Also, be sure to make an appointment to have your pet examined right away if you notice:

  • Decreased energy/stamina
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss without explanation
  • A lump or bump that is new or changing
  • Non-healing sores
  • Limping
  • Breathing difficulty

What Can Be Done for Pets With Cancer

Luckily, we are living in a time when there is more knowledge about cancer treatment than ever before. If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, our oncology department at Heart of Texas Veterinary Specialty Center is here to help.

Cancer treatment is often multi-modal, meaning that we often try to attack the disease from more than one front. Depending on your pet’s type of cancer and the stage of the disease we will develop a cancer treatment plan that consist of one or more of the following:

Surgical treatment – We may be able to surgically excise all or most of the tumor cells in a pet. This can be an important part of treatment and some types of cancer can be cured with surgery alone.

Chemotherapy – The use of certain drugs that target cancer cells is a valuable treatment technique for many types of cancer. Pets tend to tolerate chemotherapy very well compared to humans due the use of different protocols.

Radiation therapy – We can use high-energy particles to target cancer cells. This is an extremely valuable therapy, especially for tumors that cannot be fully surgically removed.

Alternative therapies – Nutritional management, immunotherapy, acupuncture, and other treatment modalities can be an important part of helping a pet cancer patient.

It is also very important for us to provide palliative, or quality-of-life care for all cancer patients, whether they are in treatment or not. Things like pain management, appetite support, and anti-nausea medications can go a long way to helping our pet cancer patients.

We hope that you never need our oncology services, but if you ever do our expert team is here to help you navigate your pet’s diagnosis and provide the best possible outcomes. Please call if you need our help.