The following is to help answer your questions and concerns for treating your pet for cancer. We are concerned that your pet has a quality of life. We do not promote treatment if we feel your pet will not benefit from treatment. Treatments for cancer include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Treatments vary based on the known biological response of the cancer to each of the above modalities, as well as the condition of the pet, other concurrent conditions, and finances available for treatment. Additionally, supportive medications are used.
Some cancers are considered systemic and are not surgically resectable, such as most lymphomas. Other cancers may be, or initially start out as an initial single tumor. Complete surgical excision would cure any cancer that has not spread. Some cancers, although small when found, may have already spread systemically, or have spread into surrounding tissues. For cancers that commonly only spread locally, surgery, then radiation is recommended. The average expense for radiation is currently $5,000.00 7,000.00 and is completed at a veterinary radiation specialist.
For cancers that are known to be metastatic, or systemic, chemotherapy may be an option. Certain cancers respond well to chemotherapy, some do not. We will guide you in this issue. We will give you the information specific for your pet. We wish to provide referral to either a veterinary oncologist, or internal medicine specialist for all our clients dealing with cancer in their pet.
Chemotherapy is a very scary thought for most people, second only to the thought of cancer itself. However, in pets, chemotherapy is generally well tolerated. People worry about having their pet go bald'. They worry about their pet vomiting. They worry about pain, lethargy and weakness. These are all conditions we can control. We can keep the chemotherapy from causing these problems. However, the disease itself, if not controlled, may cause these problems.
Chemotherapy in people is used to try to extinguish the cancer completely to allow the person to live for decades thereafter. Although, this cure can occur in pets, our goal is to create a remission, or control the cancer for as long as possible. Chemotherapy is aimed at killing rapidly dividing cells, specifically those of cancer. Side affects are generally of the drug having damaged other rapidly dividing cells, such as those of the gastrointestinal tract and the bone marrow. There have been extensive studies of a wide variety of chemotherapeutic drugs in veterinary medication. Our protocols use these medications in combinations to prevent toxic effects of any one of the medications. If a pet is particularly sensitive to any one medication, we can reduce the dose, or just do not need to use it again. We will monitor your pet closely to help prevent toxic side effects. A complete blood cell count (CBC) will be taken prior to each administration of injectable chemotherapeutics.
Dogs in particular, are quite able to undergo chemotherapy without feeling nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. We need our pets to eat and nourish themselves. In the cases where gastrointestinal side effects are occurring, we have alternatives. You will have medications available to reduce the chances of nausea and vomiting. If needed, we can use medications to improve appetite. We will assist you in deciding what is best nutritionally for your pet. Diets can be manipulated to allow your pet to nourish him or her rather than the cancer. There are even manufactured diets for this specific purpose.
Dogs and cats have different type hair than we do. Hair on dogs and cats is continually growing in at different phases. Although some of the hair coat may shed, rarely is there a change in the hair coat. Dogs such as poodles and other breeds that have long growing hair may have a noticeable thinning of the hair coat. However, even for these, did you know some dogs can even be treated with minoxidal, and vitamin E?
Regardless of treatment options, pain must be prevented or minimized to a low level. Pain is demonstrated in pets in a variety of ways. Lameness, panting, lethargy and anorexia are common signs of pain. In severe or acute pain, a pet may vocalize, but most pets will never vocalize their pain. We will help guide you for when pain medications are needed. We have many tools available to control pain. From as mild as daily aspirin use, to prescription pain medications, or occasional use of more potent analgesics, we will keep your pet out of pain.
When our systems are not working optimally we may feel weak. In our pets this is usually seen as lethargy. The disease or the treatment can cause this. There are multiple supplements and medications we can use to assist pets. Ideally, cancer is detected before a pet is ill or weak. We can keep them feeling well for a longer period of time if we are progressive in our complete care for their needs. Pets may need vitamin supplementation, antioxidants, or medications to help increase their red blood cell count. Some pets will benefit from body building steroids.
IN THE END
When the time comes, that with all the efforts that have been elected that we can no longer keep your pet feeling good, we will help you in the final choice. We recognize that not all our clients can afford all the recommended treatments and supportive care for their pet. We recognize that each family has its own needs and feelings about treating chronically ill pets. We are here to help you do the most for your pet given your individual circumstances.