Cancer is a diagnosis no dog or cat owner wants to hear. It strikes fear into the heart of every pet owner. And that fear can sometimes jeopardize the health and well-being of your beloved dog or cat.
If the worst happens and your pet is diagnosed with a form of canine or feline cancer, the most important thing for you to do is not to lose hope.
I recently attended a lecture presented by Dr. Greg Ogilvie at the annual Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association conference in Newport, Rhode Island. Dr. Ogilvie is the director of the Angel Care Cancer Center at California Veterinary Specialists. He shared with us what he calls the “commandments” of cancer treatment. I found them quite valuable and thought they might be worthwhile to share with you.
Canine and Feline Cancer Causes Pain: Do not Let Your Dog or Cat Hurt
Cancer causes pain in dogs and cats. Fortunately, there are a number of different medications and treatment modalities that can be used to control pain. There is no reason that your dog or cat needs to hurt from having cancer. Talk with your veterinarian about what type of pain control is appropriate and effective for your pet.
Remember that preventing pain is much more effective than trying to control pain once a pet becomes painful. So talk with your veterinarian about acting preemptively. Start your dog or cat’s pain control program before your pet actually becomes painful.
Dogs and Cats with Cancer Do not Need to Vomit or Have Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea do not need to be a routine part of a cancer treatment plan. There are numerous methods of controlling vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Talk with your veterinarian about the options available. As with pain control, acting preemptively is preferable.
Do not Let Your Dog or Cat Starve Because of Canine or Feline Cancer
Lack of appetite and weight loss is a danger with any form of cancer. To add to that, when cancer is treated and the cancer cells begin to die, there is a significant expenditure of energy necessary for the pet to successfully deal with the dying cancer cells. As a result, it is important for your dog or cat to continue receiving adequate nutrition.
In part, making sure that your dog or cat is free of pain will help keep his appetite normal. In addition, controlling vomiting and/or nausea will help as well. Animals that are painful or nauseous will likely not eat normally.
If your pet is pain-free and is not vomiting or nauseous but his appetite is still depressed, there are other options that can help. There are a number of drugs that can help stimulate the appetite. In some cases, other feeding techniques (i.e. feeding tubes) may be necessary, at least temporarily.
While a diagnosis of canine or feline cancer is still likely to be scary for most dog and cat owners, working with your veterinarian to control pain, to control vomiting, nausea and diarrhea, and to ensure adequate nutrition for your pet can help provide compassionate care for your pet and make sure that your pet is as comfortable as possible.