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

Time and the Joys of Life in Dog Cancer

Updated: October 10th, 2018

We are very busy in modern life.  It seems as time goes on, the faster it speeds by.

Dog cancer is connected in many ways to time.  There is the question that is most pressing: “How much more time do I have?”.

This is an important piece of information to get, along with the odds of actually gaining this time from a treatment (not all dogs may respond), the odds of side effects, how a treatment will affect your dog’s life quality, cost, how often the treatments are, and so on.

Data collection is the first part in thoroughly evaluating a treatment, whether for dog cancer or otherwise.

But not all strategies in the Full Spectrum Approach used in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide are about attacking cancer cells directly.  The result of these strategies is life extension.

We have another area to consider.  This is life quality.  Life quality is a critical part of your dog’s care.  Nobody wants to have a longer life if the life gained is a bad one.

In the Guide we look at many ways to increase life quality after a dog cancer diagnosis.  We need to always remember our loved dog’s Joys of Life. Here are some of them:

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 published research, laughter literally fights disease.

So we need to make sure that we are building activities in our schedule that increase life quality.  Another way of saying this is that we need to deliberately increase the Joys of Life for our dogs.

Suppose you have weekly oncologist appointments for chemo for your dog.  You have blocked off time twice daily for medication, Apocaps, immune supporting supplements, dog cancer diet preparation, and so on.

When have you scheduled a Joys of Life appointment for your dog?  When is this in your Google calendar or your daily planner?  What time is allocated and especially reserved for this important appointment?


Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Valerie on July 13, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Apocaps – How long to use?

    Our German Shepherd, Maya, was diagnosed with renal cancer last April (2010). We had her kidney removed and discussed her prognosis with 2 oncologists (different vet hospitals in NE Ohio). Both agreed that the long term pronosis was not good and advised that 6-8 months of continued life was the most we should expect. I found and read your book, Dog Cancer Survival Guide and started her on Apocaps about 1 year ago. She takes 9 capsules each day. I have religiously followed the diet and supplement advice contained in your book. So it is now 15 months since her diagnosis (thrilled with this result!). She is 10 1/2 years old. She shows no outward signs of illness (she is showing signs of normal aging for a dog of her breed and size). How long do I keep her on the Apocaps? Do I continue to keep her on 9 capsules per day or is there a lower “maintenance” level? Looking forward to your response.

    • DemianDressler on July 13, 2011 at 10:50 am

      Dear Valerie,
      wow- you have achieved double the time that was anticipated. Great work!
      To be honest with these results I hesitate to change the plan. I would suggest doing what you are doing, since we know the cancer cells are still in the body. This is what I would do if she were my patient. However, be sure that whatever you are doing has been cleared by your veterinarian.
      Dr D

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