Cancer is a frightening diagnosis for any pet owner to receive. It carries with it many thoughts and experiences that carry over from human medicine. In veterinary medicine it can be a very complex diagnosis to work through and formulate the best treatment plan for your pet.
The first step is to arrive at the correct diagnosis. This may require multiple tests, including needle aspirates, radiographs, ultrasound, blood tests, and surgery. Some dog and cat cancers may be cured with surgery. Some are best treated with chemotherapy. And many require a combination of both surgery and chemotherapy. Unfortunately, not all cancers are curable. Sometimes the goal is to create a remission that will extend the life of your pet while still maintaining the quality of your pet’s life.
This is most often the goal of chemotherapy in veterinary medicine. Many of us have had a friend or family member go through chemotherapy and have many adverse reactions. With pets, because our goal from the beginning is to maintain quality of life, they often do not have the same reactions. Their hair will not fall out, although shaved areas may regrow more slowly. Nausea is certainly possible, but it is usually controlled with medication. The most common side effect is a decrease in white blood cell counts. That is why before every chemo visit a CBC is performed to check the blood counts. If too low, then treatment is postponed and antibiotics may need to be dispensed.
We also can offer treatments that compliment a chemotherapy protocol such as acupuncture to help with some of the side effects as well as supplements and diet recommendations to support your pet’s well being.
The one common characteristic of any oncology case is that no two are alike. We are very careful to work in partnership with you to make sure both you and your pet’s needs are met throughout all aspects of diagnosis and treatment. If you suspect your pet may have cancer or have recently been given a diagnosis of cancer, we are here to help you help your pet.