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

An Overview of What Else Can I Do?

Updated: October 12th, 2018

The most common question I receive is:

My dog has cancer.  What else can I do?

Well, this is a very short question that needs a very long answer. I will do my best to give the big categories here.

First, get the data you need.  A real guardian needs information to make aware decisions.  Without data, you have no way to make decisions that have very real ramifications.  You get data with a dog cancer diagnosis, grade and stage.  This is done with fine needle aspirates, biopsies, lab work, and imaging.

One you receive the info, time to get your Guide.  This is a top to bottom road map of the path you are now on.  You and your loved dog have been dealt certain cards and we must grab all the  longevity and life quality possible. This is the purpose of the Guide.

Many guardians are faced with difficult emotions, and you need a clear mind in this process.  For this reason, doing what you can to reduce the feelings of overwhelm can be very helpful. The Guide has some exercises that can be used for this.  Support of counselors, trusted friends, communication on this blog and other canine cancer communities, spiritual leaders and family talks are common ways to soften some of the feelings that can interfere with clear thinking.

Now, you must decide what kind of person you are. This is the first and most critical decision in being your dog’s advocate.  In the realm of conventional care, we often have to accept that the odds of life extension go up along with the odds of side effects.  Conventional care includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. To what degree are you averse to possible side effects in exchange for life extension?

Then you should get data on the odds of these side effects and what they will look and/or feel like to your dog (as much as we can infer anyway).   Use your vet or oncologist for this info.

Next do a conventional care treatment plan analysis.  This means you compare your dog’s average life expectancy with the one gained by the conventional care. How much time is gained relative to what a dog like yours would be living anyway?  You follow by blending what kind of person you are with this calculation, and you have a treatment plan analysis of conventional care.

Moving on. In my experience, I have seen a good number of patients go beyond their median life expectancy.  I do advocate using all the tools available to deal with canine cancer, regardless of source, as long as they have clinically justifiable rationale.

Here are the areas you should focus on:

  • Diet (there is a free download on the top of this blog)
  • Apoptogens
  • Immune stimulants
  • Other supplements
  • Pain control
  • Promoting anti-cancer brain chemistry
  • Increasing life quality by focusing on Joys of Life

These topics are addressed in detail in the Guide as well and in this blog.  Use the search bar on the right side of this page.

You should also mind costs related to each aspect of care. Use your vet or oncologist for the conventional care costs. Budget expenditures within what is manageable.  Here is some info on ways to help this area. Don’t forget trading services with your vet can be an additional way to minimize costs.


Dr D

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  1. Bette Thompson on June 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    I have a 10 year old dog, he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure 1.5 months ago, then changed to lung cancer due to a x-Ray of the heart and upper lung area. He had been going to vet for cortisone shots and antibiotics for a skin problem, (treated this way for 5 months) then he occasionally started coughing, a low barking/goose cough for one month or so, then every day coughing and white mucus (occasional pink/red spatter), now all the time when he moves around. But one thing bothers me about the cancer diagnoses, his appetite is great!
    Is this normal for dogs with cancer? I have done a lot of research lately, trying to find answers, and I am wondering if he may have a yeast infection skin and now lungs? Is there a test for yeast infection? And can it be treated?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on June 25, 2014 at 5:21 am

      Hi Bette,
      Yes, it’s possible to have a cancer diagnosis, and your dog still has a great appetite. To begin with, he’s not bummed out about his ‘diagnosis’ — they don’t wake up worrying every morning like we tend to do. He just knows how he feels, and if that’s hungry, that’s great.. I hope you have the Dog Cancer Diet to make sure you get the best nutrition possible. If you’re working with your vet to help your dog with the heart and lung condition, please ask your vet about checking into a yeast situation. It may be present, but would not explain the x-ray results. Please carefully monitor his breathing. Fluid can build up around the lungs and become very uncomfortable, even painful, and difficulty breathing is horrible for anyone. You need to let your vet know about the coughing and mucous… red means blood, and it’s not meant to come out of the mouth. If possible, take a short video on your phone when this happens so your vet can actually see the symptom. This is a situation to work with you vet, and if for any reason you’re not completely comfortable, you have the right to ask for, or go get another opinion. I know you want the best for your boy, and you’re doing great by looking for information. It’s just not possible to give solid answers over the internet, but I hope this helps a bit. All the best,

  2. Luke Moseley on March 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Dr D, on 3/6/13 I told you about Chloe, my mini schnauzer who my vet thought had hemangioscarcoma. A ultrasound/needle biopsy revealed anal sac adenocarcinoma, it has spread. The internal medicine vet is consulting with NC State for their recommendation. I have Chloe on Apocaps and K-9 Immunity w/transfer factor, some Halo and the dog cancer diet with digestive enzymes. I am going to recommend the Metronomic Chemo (minimum chemo approach) to my vet. The maximum tolerated dose will probably be too harsh and I know we’re just trying to manage this disease. Would you or Dr E suggest carboplatin, mitoxantrone or adriamycin as the drug of choice? I’m still going through the Guide and trying to take it all in, but I have to put plan to action soon. When I talk to my vet this week I want to have all options I can present. Chloe is still active and is eating ok but is getting picky. I think every Vet should read your Guide – my Vet is getting my copy when I’m done.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on April 5, 2013 at 9:47 am

      For anal sac ACA, all the drug you mentioned are good options. I typically use carbo and mito. These drugs are given IV and at maximum tolerated dose, not metronomic – which is low dose oral “pulse” chemotherapy. Both are well tolerated, yes even MTD (maximum tolerated dose). It one of the things I like about being an oncologist – chemo is very well-tolerated in most pets.
      Here’s another blog to check out:
      And there’s a chapter on this tumor and other on chemo in the Guide.
      All my best, Dr Sue

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