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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

A Change in Viewing Dog Cancer

Updated: September 19th, 2018

I gave a webinar this morning that focused on making a dog cancer treatment plan.  I realized the topic should be presented, as so many blog readers post specific questions, but many are essentially the same query. So I presented a structure that would allow people to answer their own version of the question, with just a little data from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

The format of the question goes something like this:”My dog has (insert tumor type here).  The vet is suggesting (insert chemo and/or radiation plan here).  But I am worried about (insert side effect here).  What should I do? (Alternative endings: a. Is is really worth it?  b.The vet says it will only give (insert number of months here) and I need help.)

If you have a question along these lines, please realize you are not alone.  There are a few reasons for this. Let’s look at the general dissatisfaction with what conventional veterinary care has to offer, in terms of the cost/benefit ratio of chemo, radiation or surgery with a truly malignant dog cancer.  This treatment dissatisfaction engenders a quest for the solution.

Why are the solutions commonly available to most vets and dog lovers so unsatisfactory?

I believe one of the reasons is late (also called “delayed”) diagnosis.  This is often because we vets are not doing a very good job of being aggressive diagnostically and directing our radar towards cancer.

As vets, we do not push people to be proactive enough in hunting down cancers.  Dog cancer is the number one cause of death in dogs, with half the dogs over 10 years dying of it.  The public is not educated and vets are not pushing the diagnostics.  Delayed diagnosis is often the result.

In human medicine, physicians are more with the program.  Women get screened for breast cancer, and men get their PSA levels tested for prostate cancer.  If I were wearing my cynical lenses, I would suppose the reason for this is human patients are very litigious and, in Pavolovian reactions, MD’s are trying avoid delayed diagnosis lawsuits.  Then again, maybe it is because physicians care more than vets (!). Or maybe because more attention is drawn to human illness than dogs (“speciesism“).

Or,  maybe we vets are just a little slow on the uptake. Maybe we are victims of another “-ism”, called “scientism“, which is a pathological dependence on science and the scientific method to answer all questions.   Scientism tends to blind it’s believers, who tend to condemn before investigating disruptive observations.

At any rate, we have become like fish who are not aware we exist in water.  Cancer is everywhere but we don’t see it.

Brings to mind that fable of the Native Americans being unable to really register incoming European ships in the Columbus expedition, thinking that perhaps the alien sails were clouds as they approached. The exception, according to the story, was the medicine man.  He was able to see the ripples and then after contemplation, was able to recognize the image of the ships for what they were.

So who will be able to see the ripples made by the most deadly dog disease of all time?

Could it be you? And you? And you?

Best to all,

Dr Dressler

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. Teresa on January 11, 2012 at 10:07 am

    I too have enjoyed your site and postings. My dog (a beagle, now almost 9 years old) has twice been diagnosed with cancer. First it was a mast cell tumor when he was 2 years old and most recently an eye melanoma. Both times I was told I caught it early (and both times the vets were surprised how early I caught it) and I believe that’s made all the difference. I also found my own breast cancer early and I know that’s made all the difference! I said to my vet, “it’s what I do–I catch cancers early.” (Although, credit goes to my groomer–who caught the mast cell tumor). I think in part its a matter of we humans understanding that we need to be on the lookout for the signs of cancer in our dogs just as we are in ourselves. That’s why your site and all the information you provide is such a great service. And I love your book too!

  2. George Zito on December 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    How are you. I am writing this letter because yesterday I found out
    that my pit has been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor stage 11. I have
    been doing research on turmeric and would like to start him on it as soon as
    possible. He is 82 pounds. I just do not know how much to give him. If you
    could help me out I would be very grateful.
    Thank you so much,

    • DemianDressler on December 8, 2010 at 8:44 pm

      Dear George,
      curcumin by itself does not enter the bloodstream very well. Additionally there are a lot of other things that are more potent and one thing I can tell you for sure is that curcumin is not a cure for mast cell tumors. Depending on the grade of the tumor, some of these are killers. I assume your vet has told you this already, but mast cell tumors in dogs should be removed with surgery. What is the grade of the tumor? For supportive care, I use Apocaps, which have a bioavailability enhanced version of curcumin in the preparation along with other useful items that are far superior to curcumin alone. Are you paying attention to diet? Immune stimulants? Benadryl? H2 blockers? Is there a need to consider chemo or other conventional care items? These items are discussed in the Guide, which is an easy read..Anyway, having said all that, if you are intent on the curcumin, here you go:
      Dr D

  3. Sandeep on August 28, 2010 at 10:25 pm

    Dr D,

    So very true. I would concur with you. I have posted on different topics on your blog and though I lost my dear friend to Osteo in june 2010, I continue to visit your blog as also other sites to keep myself abreast of the latest. My primary vet made a wrong diagnosis of Arthritis due to a limp and severe pain in my dog’s hind leg in end January this year. He did a blood test which showed some infection , administered Bayrocin injections and prescribed Meloxicam. The Meloxicam was continued after 5 shots of antibiotic injections as and when the pain reappeared. He was so confident of his diagnosis and continued the single line of treatment just not thinking about the possibility of osteosarcoma. I was unaware of the incidence of this disease being so high in dogs and uninformed about the symptoms since it is much rare in humans. Later on he was diagnosed with Cardiac Edema. Subsequently and three months later I went in for multiple opinions to discover the true cause. Needless to say it became late in the day to pursue amp and certain modes of treatment. None of the vets had heard of alternative therapies like arte and had to be educated about them. To cut a long story short the vet who should have known didn’t do a differential diagnosis because he had a single track mind, perhaps he had other matters on his mind or just as you say, the cancer was not on his radar. The combined effect of lack of awareness and primary vet’s misdiagnosis led to this, what could otherwise have been a much prolonged quality life and time with me here.

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