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)
- 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. 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.