When coping with a diagnosis of canine cancer, many guardians worry about decisions they are making. Often there does not seem to be a “right” answer.
Similarly, when learning about topics in cancer treatment, we may have a tendency to categorize as “good” and “bad”.
An important fact of dog cancer, and many medical topics, is that there may not be a single “correct” way of dealing with a problem. Perhaps an approach works well in a dog, but in another dog with the same diagnosis, the treatment fails. And to make matters worse, we don’t have the opportunity to compare two different approaches in a single loved dog.
In the realm of dog cancer, especially when the disease is aggressive, we rarely have a single “correct” approach. This holds true for each type of treatment in Full Spectrum Care (the comprehensive approach used in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide).
For example, is a given chemotherapy protocol always the best choice? Maybe we would normally use doxorubicin, but some dogs have heart problems, making doxorubicin a poorer choice due to its heart side effects. We would need alternative chemo choices, but we could still use the dog cancer diet, combination apoptogens, immune support, and so on.
Or it could be that we have a 15 year old dog whose life expectancy normally is 12 years, and this dog is stiff and sore and does not do well traveling. Perhaps a given dog has separation anxiety, and hurts her mouth trying to escape the dog kennel in the practice. These factors might make hospital stays less appropriate.
And of course, there is the guardian. Maybe a given guardian wants to be sure their four legged family member experiences no side effects. This would preclude the use of some cancer treatments.
For these reasons, it is important to decide what the priority in your dogs cancer treatments are. This is called Treatment Plan Analysis, and is discussed at length in the Guide. When examined closely, it becomes clearer that there is no “right” or “wrong”, only choices and the effects of those choices. This is an important distinction for a guardian coping with dog cancer.
Take some time to sit and do a treatment plan analysis that best serves your loved dog. Get the information you need about side effects, increases in survival time, costs, and logistics. Decide what treatment priorities and philosophy you want for your loved dog. Then make your plan and share with your vet or oncologist.
And finally, remember you can always change course.
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.