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Cancer Treatment Options for Dogs and Cats

Owning a cat or dog is not like owning a car. Pets are not machinery. Rather, they are living, breathing creatures that bring a tremendous amount of love and fellowship into your life.

When your dog or cat becomes ill, treating them is pretty much the same as taking a family member to the doctor, except they can’t tell you where they hurt. If the problem turns out to be something serious, such as cancer, you may be devastated.

Fortunately, there may be ways to take care of the problem. See below for the cancer treatment options for dogs and cats.

Treatment Varies

The type of treatment your dog or cat may get for cancer depends to a large extent on how far along the disease has progressed. If it’s caught early enough, just as it is with humans, the chances of beating the disease increase.

It also depends on the type of cancer your pet has contracted. Other considerations are how old the dog or cat is and their overall health. The younger the pet is, and the better shape they’re in, the better chance there is to overcome the disease–providing it’s detected early enough.

Types of Treatment

The types of treatment that can be provided for a dog or cat are remarkably similar to treatment in humans. Depending on the type of cancer, and its progression, pets can undergo surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, immunotherapy, cryosurgery, hyperthermia, photodynamic therapy, or targeted cancer treatments that may include drugs or other agents that could block the spread of the disease.

On a case by case basis, some of these treatments could be combined, if they’re deemed to be the desirable course of action.

Trial Treatments

In the event that your pet is diagnosed with a cancer type that is non-traditional, or their cancer is too far advanced for conventional treatment, they could be put into an alternative program where unproven methods of treatment are used on a trial basis.

Programs of this type are usually only used when other options have proven to be ineffective. They are generally offered at reduced prices, or entirely free of charge. Trials of this type could prove beneficial not only to your pet, but to others who may contract similar cancers down the line.

Consult With a Specialist

Before you decide on a method of treatment, you should consult with a cancer specialist–a veterinary oncologist. This is true even if you intend to seek an alternative method of treatment, such as holistic medicine or acupuncture.

A veterinary oncologist will be able to accurately diagnose the problem, and can recommend treatment. Your local vet should be able to provide information regarding cancer specialists in your area.

Get a Second Opinion

Once you’ve been informed that your pet has cancer, it would be a good idea to get a second opinion before you agree to any form of treatment. Specialists may disagree, not only on the type and progression of the disease, but on the preferred method of treatment, as well.

Before any treatment begins, it would be advisable to make sure the diagnosis is confirmed by a tissue biopsy.

Deciding On Treatment

Before you make any decision regarding the type of treatment to provide for your pet, you should consult with your local vet and a veterinary oncologist on what the goal of the treatment will be.

In some cases, it may be unrealistic to hope for a complete recovery. In which case you may have to settle for merely relieving the suffering of your pet. In some cases, no treatment at all may be the best option. One of the most important considerations when trying to decide on a course of action is the pet’s projected quality of life with or without the proposed treatment.

Following Through

Prior to making an informed decision on the type and extent of treatment for your pets’ cancer, there are a number of things to ask yourself. Do you have enough money to pay for the proposed treatment? Will you be able to follow through with everything the treatment entails, such as making repeated trips to the vet or keeping the pet comfortable at home? Will your pet be better after receiving the treatment than they are now?

Once you’re satisfied that you’ve answered these questions honestly, you should be able to make a decision on the type of treatment to provide for your pet.

Guest post from Payton Price. 

Image Credit | Scott Kinmartin

About Guest

This article was written by one of our guest contributors.

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One comment

  1. Molly was my M-in-Laws cat,after a fall she was no longer able to look after her so I took her home with me and she joined my little band of three. Two female and a stray male. Molly is pure white all over she had a small sore on the top of her head.I took her to the vets to see what was going on.The vet treated her for a short while and then took a sample which returned postive. The tumor gradually got bigger. Molly showed no sign of distress she went out with her collar on, she climbed the walls and trees she sat on the shed and she ate like a horse, and still does today. Molly is such a lovely cat very placid she never scratches, and loves lots of cuddles. She likes to go to bed at night and sits on a cushion next to the pillow. The tumor has grown but Molly still appears very well. I know I could have took her to Liverpool to have extensive treatment but she is 12 years old and very happy. I did not want to put her in a situation that would cause her distress, so, we get along day by day. I know the day is drawing near when I will have to revist the vets as the turmor gets nearer to her eye but, until then we enjoy every day. I can honestly say she is a very special cat and I love her dearly. All four cats get on well together. Yes, I will cry buckets when I take Molly on her final journey. I have done it before several times but not with a terminal illness just old age. This time I think it will be different as Molly is so tactile. I know she will be as good as gold when the time comes. At the moment she is well and I am so proud of her. I am going to miss her so much but,I know I will be much richer for having taken her home with me and enjoying the love, the friendship, and the special time we had together.

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