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

Analysis Paralysis With Dog Cancer

Updated: May 15th, 2024

When faced with a dog cancer diagnosis, many guardians experience an immediate sense of overwhelm.  Of course, there is profound anger, sadness, numbness, grief, and the whole array of different responses to crises news.

After a time, treatment options arise.  And the facts are that modern medicine in many cases does not provide options that are satisfactory.  There must be something else!  Often these events land a person who loves a dog with cancer right here on this blog.

As the journey for a solution continues, many options start arising that were not explored in the examination room with the vet or the conventional oncologist.   The search for information is on and many things pop up on the radar.  Perhaps something from a friend is heard.  Maybe a breeder talks about the right diet.   Could be information is picked up on the internet.

Over time, the information can be so much that the concerned guardian, who has many times lost much ability to focus due to profound grief and pain, finds themselves paralyzed.  Too many options, not enough clarity, and the result can be utter and total exhaustion without forward movement.

This is what I call “Analysis Paralysis” and it is common in coping with dog cancer.

What is the cure for analysis paralysis?

  1. Clear you mind.  Use the emotional releasing exercises provided for you in the Guide.  See a counselor, friend, mentor or find spiritual support. Experience the emotion, release, and move forward.
  2. Develop a support network of people who have dealt with dog cancer.  This blog, TriPawds, and Yahoo Canine Cancer Group are good online sources for peer support.
  3. Find an information source you trust.  Examples include your vet or oncologist, integrative vet, or someone who has been through this. The Guide was written for this exact purpose.
  4. Make a list of the questions you have.  Write them all down.  Go to the information source and answer each and every question you have to the best of your ability. Record the answers.
  5. Decide on the best plan for your dog.  This is the end result of treatment plan analysis.
  6. Write down your plan.  Focus on emotional releasing activities (guard the guardian) diet, chemotherapy, surgery, apoptogens, other supplements, deliberate life quality increases, finances, nursing care, and logistics.
  7. Make a dog care calendar with each and every step for each item. Find or make time in your daily calendar for these different steps.  Don’t forget to include preparation and follow up times.
  8. Keep focused on whatever is positive.  Do this actively, even if it is difficult.  It will help.


Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Susan Kazara Harper on October 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Hi, What does your vet say about this? I’m guessing Brandi is on some medication? If so, ask your vet whether the bleeding could possibly be a side effect, or the result of prolonged use. Have you had a recent, complete check on all of her systems? We’ll keep you in our thoughts and hope that your vet check will reveal this is something that can be managed. Good luck!

  2. Hopeful on October 3, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Hi I have a paralized 7 year old laphsa aphso she recently has been bleeding from her vulva, the vet thought she may have stones X-ray showed no stones then took a sample of urine from her bladder I’m waiting for her results. In the mean time I’m wondering what is wrong with her I manually express her bladder and take very good care of her. She will have been paralized now in February 4 years, I love her ever so much and hate the thought of something terribly wrong with her, her name is BRANDI, please pray for her. Thank you her mommy

  3. albert g on March 13, 2012 at 6:00 am

    We lost our 7 year old Boxer Champion to Lymphoma 6 months ago. We were able to provide a very high quality of life for him 18 months beyond the 6 weeks he was originally given on diagnosis. This was accomplished through traditional chemo $$$$$ which killed him (his bone marrow) in the end.
    Now our 7 yr old female has been diagnosed with mast cell. This time, after surgery to remove the mass, we’re going holistic / herbal and found this blog looking for info on PSK.
    I am grateful to have found this site……thank you!

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on March 15, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Dear Albert,
      PSK is one of the constituents in the medicinal mushrooms used in Asia. I would favor a balanced mushroom supplement like k-9 immunity unflavored or active hexose correlated compound for oral use.
      You should probably read the guide for more information on things like this, imo…thanks!
      Dr D

  4. Eddie D on March 3, 2012 at 3:59 am

    We lost our 7 yr old hound mix, Pokey, to Squamous Cell Carcinoma 40 days after initial treatment and 2 months after his annual checkup. We were frantic and we thought we would get 6-12 months as SCC is aggressive. We didn’t know how aggressive as it invaded bones and lungs quickly. We spent the money etc. but it was a losing battle. As Pokey himself says in his blog , that he couldn’t out run the Big C.

    I would like to do more research on SCC and all dog cancer and why is it so common.

  5. Andi Morse on February 28, 2012 at 2:09 am

    We lost our beloved 7 year old Marley last year to intestinal cancer. I will never forget how I felt when I heard the news of our pup’s illness. It was as though I’d been punched in the gut and I had a momentary out-of-body experience. I threw myself into researching possible treatments, determined that he would beat the odds. Many things were attempted, including surgery, chemotherapy and holistic treatments. We spent countless hours and thousands of dollars trying to do the impossible. In the end, it was acceptance that got us through. That is my advice to others…to try to accept your pet’s situation as best you can and to know when enough is enough and when to let go, as heartbreaking as it is.

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