If you are a dog lover coping with the diagnosis of dog cancer, at some point you will be forced to deal with costs. In this economic climate, many are faced with heart-wrenching decisions.
“I need to choose between my dog’s care and my own.”
“I have to pick either paying for my home or treating my dog’s cancer.”
“I can’t afford the treatments my vet says are the only choices.”
Are these familiar to anyone out there?
The situation in veterinary medicine is many times different from human medicine. When dealing with a veterinarian, the issue of cost must always be addressed. And cases of cancer care often require extensive surgery, chemotherapy or radiation.
Many have to deal with a price tag of $4000-10,000, and sometimes even more. An article I came across described a Golden Retriever, Comet, who was afflicted with lymphosarcoma. Comet received an experimental stem cell transplant procedure in 2005, to the tune of $45,000.
These figures can be utterly overwhelming for a typical person, especially these days. This situation produces guilt, frustration, anger and worry. Many feel hopeless and lonely, crushed by the idea that there is no way out.
In truth, the cost of care is one of the toughest things about a dog cancer diagnosis.
How in the world is one supposed to deal with it?
1. Communicate with your vet
The most important thing is to communicate with your veterinarian. I have had concerned dog lovers assume that there is only one option, only one way to treat based on a single approach presented by the vet. This is usually not the case. Your veterinarian or oncologist, many times, will be able to present an option or two that is less costly.
Don’t be afraid to be your dog’s primary health care advocate! Discuss the situation with the doctor managing the case. Be honest and open. Many times a compromise attack plan can be reached.
2. Outside financing
For more information and tools to help you dog with cancer, get a copy of this informative guide
Many veterinarians offer outside financing like Care Credit or Chase Health Advance. These are companies that will take over the bill, allowing dog lovers payment installments. If your veterinarian does not offer these options, suggest they consider it! Everyone wins.
3. Charitable organizations
Charitable organizations exist that may help defray the cost of treatments. There is a list of these in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Incidentally, due to these “ruff” times (sorry, bad pun), the cost of this immediate download e-book has been reduced to help you get the information you need to help care for your loved dog.
4. Clinical Trials
For those close to larger veterinary cancer facilities like vet schools or referral hospitals, enrolling your dog in a clinical trial may be possible. These centers provide low costs of care in exchange for the benefit of research that can help all dogs.
A good place to start is the Comparative Oncology Trials Consortium, or the COTC. This is a network of facilities involved in active dog cancer clinical trials. For other searches, target the vet school Dean’s office or the oncology section of small animal medicine. Referral hospitals also have oncology sections that may help.
Sending you all my best,
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.