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. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.
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