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

Why Your Personality Is So Important to Your Dog with Cancer

Updated: September 27th, 2021


When treating dog cancer, knowing your personality and priorities helps you make treatment choices that will help your dog AND feel right to you.

Dr. Dressler, the author of the best-selling book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, points out that every dog owner has different approaches, values, and ideas when it comes to treating dog cancer. As in every other area of life, choosing cancer treatments is not a one-size-fits-all situation.

That said, most dog owners do fit into one of three types, each of which makes really different choices when it comes to treatments for their dogs.

Each type has different priorities, and knowing where you fit – or where you fit best – is important, because it will help you establish your own priorities and make decisions easier. Some Guardians even use these “types” to talk to their veterinarians about their decisions.

Which type sounds most like you?

How Type A “for Action” Personality Treats Dog Cancer

“I will do everything I can to stop the cancer. Quality of life is important, and my main goal is to keep my dog alive for as long as possible, so he has every chance to beat the cancer. I understand that side effects can occur, as a result of treatment and I’m willing to deal with them when they arise. The risk is worth it, because the ultimate payoff is remission and/or more time with my dog.”

How Type B “for Balance” Personality Treats Dog Cancer

“I want to keep my dog’s life quality high, while prolonging her life as much as possible. I understand that there may be some side effects with treatment and I’m willing to deal with them as they arise.  However, if they are too extreme, I will not be happy. My main goal is to balance life quality and life expectancy.”

How Type C “for Comfort” Personality Treats Dog Cancer

“I want to keep my dog as comfortable as possible. I understand that side effects may arise as a result of treatments, and I want to avoid any but the most minor. My main concern is my dog’s quality of life, so, I am not willing to prolong life if life quality suffers.”

Why Your Type Is Important to Your Dog

Each Type loves their dog to pieces. But they may handle things differently.

Over the many years we’ve been talking to guardians with cancer, we’ve come to realize that Dr. D is correct: knowing your own Type may be critical to understanding how you should approach dog cancer. No one type is “best,” but each type has their own values to consider.

We have met Type A guardians spending tens of thousands of dollars on treatments, who could easily afford it. We have also known Type A guardians who took second (or third) jobs or who refinanced his home to pay for treatments.

On the other hand, we’ve met Type C guardians who are very comfortable financially and could afford to spend tons of money but declined expensive conventional treatments, because they were not in line with their values.

Your personality type will also play out in how much time you can spend with your dog, what types of treatments you choose, and whether you hire an oncologist or a massage therapist.

No matter what type of guardian you happen to be, you are the leader of your dog’s team. And leaders need to know who they are in order to make confident decisions.

Learn More About Your Personality Type

We’ve got a couple podcast episodes over at Dog Cancer Answers that might be helpful for you if you still aren’t sure which personality type you are, and to learn more about how each personality type approaches cancer treatment decisions.

Here is the video version of the podcast episode that describes the personality types:

For the complete transcript, check out the episode page.

This video is on Type A:

For the complete transcript on Type A, visit the episode page.

If you are more of a Type B, check out this video:

For the complete transcript on Type B, visit the episode page on Dog Cancer Answers.

And here is the video on Type C:

For the complete transcript on Type C, visit the episode page.

Please subscribe to, rate, and review Dog Cancer Answers in Apple Podcast or on your favorite pod-catcher. It really does help the show!

Warm Aloha,


PS: Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.

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