For Helen, Hunter, Guardians coping with dog cancer, and their dogs.
Cancer seems to sneak up on us often.
Many times, Guardians will wonder how it is possible that such a horrible disease could have been brewing while the dog was acting completely normal. And, how is it possible that the vet missed it during it’s developing stage?
To understand this completely, it helps to go back in time a ways.
Dogs and people have been together for roughly 30,000-40,000 years. Way back then, dogs were pretty wild, like the dogs we see on the planes of Africa in nature shows.
In those days, dogs had to hide their illnesses. The reason for this is when dogs in nature act sick, they become targets for predators, who zone in on the ill, young or elderly.
Another reason dogs learned to hide their sickness is it helps to act normally to keep pack position (social standing). When dogs act sick, they might lose their position in the pack.
So it made a lot of sense for dogs to hide their health problems, even when these problems were major.
I believe this is one of the main reasons that to this day, dogs and other pets often will act quite normally in spite of the fact that they are sick, sometimes quite so. I think there is a left-over, adaptive mechanism that made more sense in the wild than it does in modern times.
This mechanism can be called “compensation“.
So when a dog is ill with cancer, one of the reasons it may not act ill, or could even show signs on a physical exam indicating a normal dog, is because it is compensating, just like back in the wild.
For more information like this, you may enjoy The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
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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