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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Making Time for Full Spectrum Dog Cancer Care

Updated: October 19th, 2018

There is a big difference between coming up with an idea to do something, and doing it.

We humans are very good at deciding that we should do.  The problem is that many times we sort of lose track of this focus, and don’t totally follow through.

This is a very important issue when it comes to a Full Spectrum Dog Cancer Plan.  I talk about all the components of a plan like this in the Guide.  There really is quite a lot you can do to create better days for your dog.

The first thing I discuss in the Guide is how to clear your head so you feel a little better and can be more effective in helping your dog.  This takes a little bit of time, every day, for about 3 days.

Once accomplished, you will have more attention to gather data.  Facts are facts, and getting all of them (prognosis, survival times, treatments versus life quality and more) are a big second step.

Next, we are faced with treatment plan analysis.  Age, life expectancy, and personal ethics related to your four legged family member are all factored in to the choice of treatment plans.

Treatment plan analysis takes time, and these days it seems like there is a shortage of time.

Then there are the treatments themselves.  We have the conventional therapies: surgery, chemo and radiation.  We have diet to prepare and purchase.  There are supplements to get and give.

Treatments take time and attention too, and sometimes we can come up against conflicts in daily life.  Don’t our jobs need time?  How about family?  Is there any personal time left over? Are our hobbies allowed while dealing with canine cancer?

Now back to our Full Spectrum Plan: don’t forget the whole gamut of life quality enhancers shown to help cancer patients: increasing doggy social relationships, touch therapies like massage or T-touch, acupuncture, self-esteem boosting, novel experiences, and so on.  These take time too!

The key in all of this is an old idea: leverage.  In a day, there are so many different things that demand our attention. How in the world can we do it all?  Well, leverage tells us it is possible to exert brief, targeted efforts to great benefit.

With just a little discipline, we can fit everything we need into the day.  There are just a few tools that might help.  They might sound a little hokey, but they work.  I speak from experience. These tools make it possible to do about 50-100% more in a given day.

First:  get a little notebook.  Write down what you do in 24 hours.  Also note how long you do it (from when to when),  each day for about 4 days.  You will need a time keeping device like a watch or a cell  phone.

Second: review it. Upon reviewing you will be amazed how many hours are spent doing things that don’t seem to relate to your goals.

Third: define your goals in your life.  In this case, your goals will include time allocated daily to your Full Spectrum Care plan.  Other goals could be working out, spending family time, learning a new skill, getting your office organized, calling your friends, prayer, getting your care fixed and so on.

Fourth: rank your goals. Next to each one, number it appropriately.

Five: look back at your little notebook and be amazed.  There is actually some extra time to accomplish what you need to!

Six:  make a new schedule.  Put activities to achieve your top two or three goals in this schedule.  Care for your loved dog will be in this list. This time will replace the time previously spent doing things that did not accomplish your top goals.

Seven: use your time keeping device to set alarms.  This keeps you honest.  If, at 7:45, it is time for a dog massage right before going to work, your alarm beeps. Set the alarm for the next high priority goal time. Now give your dog a massage!

Hope this helps,

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Shari on March 15, 2010 at 5:12 am

    Hi Dr. Dressler:

    My 6 year old dog Casey, was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma in October of 2008. We started him on the Madison-Wisconsin protocol and he was in remission until September of 2009. He began a second round of the Madison-Wisconsin protocol, but relapsed in January of 2010. CCNU was tried, but did not help. He was in remission for almost 5 weeks after receiving one injection of L-spar, but a second injection was not effective. We just started him on the MOPP protocol without Prednisone, because he cannot tolerate it. I read your book and we just started transitioning Casey to a Cancer diet as indicated in your book. I ordered and received a bottle of Apocaps and also ordered K9 Immunity along with K9 Transfer Factor, which I am still waiting to receive. Our oncology vet at MSU has reservations about using the Apocaps and K9 Immunity, although she agreed to research it further. Should I have any concerns about using these while Casey is on the MOPP protocol. Also, if we go ahead with the Apocaps, when should we give it to him? Thank you for your assistance. It is greatly appreciated.

  2. Susan W on March 3, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Hello Dr. Dressler,
    I have been following your advice. Riley was diagnosed with nasal osteo carcoma. After first being giving a diagnosis that he had two months to live, we went to a top notch veterinary research facility and they removed all visible signs of cancer (primarily in his upper jaw and behind one eye) and recently completed radiation two weeks ago. His skin seems on the road to recovery though very slowly. My concern is that he is quite listless and just wants to sleep all day long. He doesn’t seem to be in pain so I have cut back on almost all pain meds. I am giving him supplements and a home cooked diet. He goes on two walks a day, happily but slowly. Is it normal to have so little energy at this stage. Any suggestions?
    Thank you for your wonderful blog! Susan

    • Dr. Dressler on March 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      Dear Susan,
      Well, every dog and each case is a bit different, so honestly it is hard to say whether it is normal. There may be some addressable things. Perhaps we have nausea or loss of appetite (consider mirtazapine, cimetidine/famotidine, ginger etc). Or perhaps this is related to inflammatory or compressive pain (consider antiinflammatories, pamindronate, oral pain meds). You might want to consider cisplatin impregated beads which can deliver local chemo. Your vet can get them from Wedgewood pharmacy. Most dogs with apoptosis issues benefit from the supplement I use in my patients.
      Read more:
      I assume you guys are up on cancer diet and the rest of a full spectrum plan, right?
      Good luck!
      Dr D

  3. Leroy Twisdale on February 27, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Hi Doctor Dressler, I will make this brief. I have a 1 1/2 year old basset mix htat has been diagnosed with RHABDOMYSARCOMA (BUTRYOID SUBTYPE) in his bladder. He recently, 1 month ago, underwent surgery to debulk the growth, which was located at the TRIGON area in his bladder. He recovered very well and is urinating almost normal now. My Vet tells me that the cancer will come back, just no way of knowing when. He and his brother are rescue dogs, that I found along side a highway at six weeks old. His is like a son to me and I want to do everything I can to help him. He is on PEROXICAM now and I guess it will be just a wait and see situation. Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. My Vet tells me that this type of cancer is rare in dogs this young. Thank you for your time: Mr. Twisdale

  4. Wendy Arnold on February 25, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Dear Dr.Dressler,

    Thank you for your blog. I unfortunately discovered it after we laid our Basenji/Akita mix “Zoe”, down to rest 4 days ago. She was a great dog who never left my side since her adoption 11 years ago. She was diagonosed last summer with liver cancer. Due to her age, I did not want to put her through a biopsy or treatments. I did exactly what you discuss in your blog. I was fortunate enough to devote most of my day caring for her. It was quite a commitment,but one I do not regret.

    I took her home, walked her everyday,socialized with her neighbor dogs, massaged her and changed her diet. She lived 9 mos since her disease became apparent.

    Thank you for filling a need on the web and sharing your gift of caring for animals. It is my hope that people find your blog soon after diagonosis.

    I will miss my dog very much, she was a great companion and watch dog.

    Warmest regards,

    Wendy Arnold

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