Life quality is so critical in dog cancer care. For us to do what makes sense we need to be vigilant to make sure life quality is maintained.
In dogs with true malignant cancer, we all agree life quality is the most important factor to consider.
How can we tell? Ascertaining life quality is done by weighing the positive against the negatives.
Some positives include enjoyment of food, drink, athletic outlets, normal bodily functions, mental stimulation, social interaction with people or other animals, and a good mental state.
Negatives arise when these are lost. When the positives start to be outweighed by the negatives, the life quality scale tips to the negative.
If one looks at the positives, they can be boosted to increase life quality. There are many ways to boost these in dogs that are normal.
However, in dogs with cancer, in particular those who can’t get around as well with a fading appetite and lethargy, intentional life quality boosting can be tough.
An extensive look at intentional life quality boosting can be found in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
One way to do this is by self esteem building. Life enjoyment goes up with self esteem increases. When you feel good about accomplishments, your life quality goes up.
When we were kids, we felt better by overcoming manageable challenges. Learning to walk, tying your shoes, and riding a bike are manageable challenges. They are stimulating and fun and give a sense of satisfaction.
Dogs need the similar things to feel good. The reward they get is praise and attention.
Praise and attention are central! A celebration occurs after the task is completed!
Some examples of manageable challenges are:
- going out on a walk in a new area
- going up stairs or an incline
- responding to a cue by rolling over for a long belly rub
- learning to shake
Remember, the life quality boost comes with the celebration received upon making progress towards the goal. We are not going to successful completion as our goal in this. So remember, even if your dog doesn’t do something “perfectly,” give her lots and lots of praise and pets!
Coming up with new ways to increase stimulation and praise can really help restore vitality and a better life.
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.