Decision making when loving a dog with a cancer diagnosis can be tough.
Many times we will experience some degree of confusion in decision making. There are many options that are presented. Should I allow chemotherapy? Amputation? Is radiation really worth it?
I think that a lot of the difficulty may not actually relate to just a weighing of objective facts and data. It can seem this way, but I believe many times it is not the facts and figures that leave unanswered questions or that feeling of nagging doubt.
On the contrary, we are not simply judging survival times of lymphosarcoma or the impact of the grade your dog’s mast cell tumor on treatment options. It is not simply a question of whether we should test for the MDR mutation (chemo sensitivity), or whether Coenzyme Q’s antioxidant effects are truly outweighed by its benefit in protecting the heart from the effects of Adriamycin.
It is not whether curcumin really does get into the bloodstream at pharmacologic doses, or whether luteolin’s mast cell stabilizing effects occur in both rodents as well as in dogs. Which is truly better, Alaskan sockeye salmon oil or krill oil?
It is very easy to get overwhelmed and lost in these decisions.
I would like to propose that this experience is not just due to the decisions. Instead, I believe that many times there is confusion about whether the treatment is for the dog with cancer, or for the dog lover.
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Many of us are plagued by guilt, frustration, despair, and overwhelm during these times. A central theme in these periods is a nagging feeling of uncertainty.
This feeling may stem from a lack of clarity in the motivation for choosing a treatment.
Is it for me or for my dog?
This is a very central question that should be answered. Do not be too fast is discounting it as silly or obvious. It is not, not at all.
When you are feeling uncertain or lacking confidence, one trick is to take time with your dog and focus all your attention on your dog. When you are totally focused on your dog, re-ask yourself which direction you should take.
If you give yourself adequate time really focusing on your friend, companion, family member, copilot, buddy, or however you describe this loved life, your answer will come bubbling up.
Then focus on facts and the material decisions.
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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.