When we are dealing with cancer in our loved dog, especially the bad cases, we immediately enter into a new way of thinking. We start to have thoughts about life quality assessment. We are put in a position where we are in control of life and death (euthanasia) decisions. Sometimes in a very sudden way, we step through a door into a totally new, and often alien realm. This way of thinking is not comfortable, nor fun.
How many times do we have to make these choices in life? A few at most.
Because this is murky water, it can be really helpful to have some guidelines in decision making, a structure to make the thought process easier. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide covers this topic very thoroughly.
Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more helpful information and tools!
In my last post, we looked at Joys in Life. These are all the things that make life good, from a dog’s perspective. There are many, many Joys in Life for your dog. To be honest, we probably cannot be aware of them all, not having their super-human abilities of scent, intuition, and more.
When a dog’s Joy in Life is taken, life quality goes down.
Life quality is so important. When I realized this simple fact, I spent years putting together a supplement for my own patients that could help support normal life quality levels.
Because there are so many possibilities, I developed a list of categories in which most Joys in Life can be placed. When most of these are taken from your dog, life quality dips to the negative. The scale tips, and the bad starts to outweigh the good. Of course, this is a subjective area, so use this list to help clarify, not to dictate.
Joys of Life:
The joy of eating and drinking. Having hunger satiated and thirst quenched are delightful and are joys. Cancer cachexia (weight loss due to cancer) and dehydration are negatives.
The joy of social relationships with humans and other animals. The love and bonding experiences are joyful for your dog. Depression, loneliness, and the loss of these social interactions are negatives.
They joy of athletic stimulation and movement. Most dogs enjoy the use of their body and physical movement. Not all are athletes, but all enjoy choosing a destination and getting there. Many like walks and play, enjoying the stimulation these provide. Immobility and a lack of desire or ability to move are negatives.
They joy of having normal bodily functions. The ability of the body to do what it is supposed to do is a joy in life. Try taking away your ability to urinate if you don’t believe me. The discomfort is excruciating. How about removing the ability to obtain oxygen? Breathing is a joy in life. When normal biological functions are lost, life quality goes down.
The joy of having a healthy mental state. Pain, having unmet needs, dementia, distress, depression, compulsivity, fatigue, and other unpleasant mental states take away this joy. Having a mental state that is normal is a joy in life that is underrated.
The joy of play. This contributes to a healthy mental state. In human research, laughter literally fights disease.
What other joys in life does your dog have that are not be included here? Have any suggestions?
Your feedback is welcome!
Best to All,
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.