Dear dog lovers,
I have been deluged with comments that some vets out there, maybe even most, have not heard of many of the approaches to dealing with cancer that are beyond surgery, chemo and radiation.
As a consequence, there seems to be a large “black box” as to what to do, how to arrive at a full spectrum plan, what side effects can one expect, what doses to use, and so on, regarding some of the treatments discussed here.
I would like to iterate a few points. First, many of the treatment ideas included in this blog, and in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, are in their infancy. This means that we really have just started looking at them as possible weapons against dog cancer.
For this reason, the specifics on some data may not exist. Many times we have to pick a “safest” approach, while at the same time trying to maximize the utility of the “outside the box” treatment. Often, we have to estimate from human data or lab animal studies.
Secondly, due to the fact that the area of study in cancer care that is beyond surgery, chemo and radiation is truly in it’s infancy, many vets will have not heard of most of these topics. They are simply not taught in veterinary school.
Third, vets are usually very busy people. It takes energy to sit down and read something, and sometimes we just don’t have the fuel left in our tanks. It takes even more energy to educate oneself about a topic that is completely new.
Lastly, it takes a bold thinker to be able to say, “I don’t know,” which is the first step in information gathering. Some of us are unable or do not want to make this statement.
All of this creates an environment where a dog’s human will want improved outcomes, then find information, next go to the vet, and finally have the vet report that they are unable to help. What a disappointment!
For this reason, I really encourage all of you to learn to become your dog’s primary health care advocate. You are in charge.
Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more helpful tools and information
In other areas of life, we are quite used to this idea. We don’t let anyone tell us how to raise our children, for example. We assume responsibility for preventing ourselves from getting in a car accident on the road. We speak up if someone cuts in front of us in a line waiting for the cashier.
However, in the area of health care, we have been programmed to listen to the doctor. Yes, we have been indoctrinated in this area. As a result, we ask the doctor about things. We often take the advice of the doctor and that’s it.
However, in the area of cancer management, whether we are talking about lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumor, osteosarcoma, or whatever, we have a problem.
The tools available to many of us vets have rather limited success rates in some cases. And there is veterinarian resistance or data deficits in the realm of what other options are available.
So where does that leave you? You must be in charge! You must be the one bringing the information to your vet. Take a stand. No, to not be argumentative. Do not be hostile. But you are in a position to bring your vet literature and information and say, “I want this for my dog. Will you please help me?” Be kind to your vet! Create a safe space for you to work together to check out some of these newer ideas.
I have learned a lot from my clients. Just a few years ago, I poo poo’ed almost anything a dog owner would show up with, if it was “alternative” or “herbal” or anything that was not made by Pfizer, Bayer or Fort Dodge.
Nothing is written in stone. Medicine is not black and white. When you are in a war, you do what you need to do to survive. Work together with your vet and be creative. Expand the veterinary information database personally. Do not let fear paralyze your freedom. Many times you have not much to lose and a lot to gain.
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.