These days cancers in young dogs do not seem to be that rare. And they are especially difficult since it is such a shock. Often we have the perception that things like this do not happen, or should not happen. Yet we are faced with this brutal reality that seems impossible to accept and even harder to deal with.
Let’s look at a few variations on dealing with cancer in the young dog that can help you and your loved dog in this journey together. (For more detail in each of these steps, read the Guide.)
First, emotional management is critical for you so you can be an effective guardian. The internal anguish that a guardian will experience can cripple the ability to think clearly and function normally. Get help and support to let go of some of the feelings that make things even more difficult than they are already. Part of this emotional management might be to get a second opinion, and it could be a good idea medically as well.
Next will be educating yourself on the cancer, what it does, and what some of the statistics are for this cancer, with the different treatments. Some young dog cancers include mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma, histiocytic sarcoma, and a variety of hard-to-classify, rapidly growing undifferentiated cancers. Undifferentiated means the cancer does not look much like anything else in the body and it can be difficult to classify.
Treatment plan analysis is next. Here, we evaluate what the life expectancy of our dog would be without the cancer, and compare it to the gained life expectancy of the treatment we are considering. I lean towards being more aggressive with treatments in the young canine cancer patient. The reason is their life expectancy with cancer is so much less than their normal life expectancy, I feel tolerating some side effects in the short term are justified.
Another reason for being more aggressive with treatments in young cancer patients is their cancers are often tougher. And make no mistake, tough cancer is quite tough. Under these circumstances, those with aversion to either conventional treatments or alternative treatments are advised to dump treatment prejudice into the trash.
Since chemotherapy is a common discussion, be sure to discuss ways to lessen side effects of chemotherapy with your oncologist. These may be as simple as neusea medications, but you may also want to consider the side effect supplements discussed in the Guide such as coenzyme Q-10 for doxorubicin, cordyceps for CCNU and cisplatin, magnesium for cisplatin, ginger for nausea, and so on.
You will also want to remember the test for drug sensitivity called the MDR-1 mutation. This is especially true if you have a breed with a higher chance of this genetic issue.
Most of all, remember to deliberately increase your young dog’s life quality every day. Do something for your dog, and invest some energy in this. It does wonders for both your canine companion and your soul.
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.