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

Articles by Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology)

Lumps On Dogs: When To Get Them Checked By A Veterinarian

Finding lumps on dogs is scary, but waiting to get them checked is a terrible idea. The sooner you know what it is, the better. Get the guidelines now.

Read More

Kindness in the Waiting Room

It’s easy to lose hope when your dog has cancer. This heartwarming story can help you remember that beautiful things can happen, too.

Read More

Treating Dogs with Cancer As If They’re My Own

Can I treat a dog in my care as if he were my own?

Read More

Don’t Forget Your Dog at the Veterinarian

When booking a new consultation with me, pet Guardians often ask if it is necessary to bring their dog to the appointment. From their point of view, they are often concerned about the stress of the visit on their pet, or maybe the travel itself. But from my point of view, a consultation without the…

Read More

Guidelines for Dealing with Your Dog’s Chemotherapy Side Effects

As I’ve discussed in other posts, chemotherapy is very well tolerated in dogs. Yes I know that is hard to believe. I have had family members get chemo and we have all seen it on TV, but happily it’s not like that for dogs. Approximately 80% of dogs do not have side effects at all…

Read More

Giving Your Dog Chemotherapy at Home, Safely

  I get a lot of questions about how to be safe around chemo drugs administered at home (for example, during metronomic chemotherapy).  Here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and my answers: Is my pet safe to be around? Yes, your pet is safe to be around after treatment. Being around family…

Read More

Metronomic Chemotherapy for Dogs with Cancer

What is Metronomic Chemotherapy? Metronomic chemotherapy is a relatively new type of chemotherapy that uses low doses of oral (pulse) chemotherapy given on a continuous treatment schedule. Since it is given daily or every other day, the chemotherapy is given at lower doses then typical chemotherapy, often with a reduced toxicity profile. That reduction in…

Read More

Diet and Dogs with Cancer

Dr. Ettinger’s views on diet have changed since she co-authored The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and attended the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Associations’ conference. This is important stuff!

Read More

How Old Is Too Old to Treat Dog Cancer?

I hear this question a lot: “Isn’t my dog too old to treat for cancer?” The answer is: No! Age is not a disease. I have many 12-plus year old patients that are otherwise healthy and strong. They may have some early kidney disease, a heart murmur, thyroid disease, arthritis, but they are still good…

Read More

Should My Regular Veterinarian Give My Dog Chemotherapy?

Here’s a touchy subject for us to look at: why can’t my regular veterinarian give my dog chemotherapy? Do I really need to see a specialist? I am often asked these questions by clients, and my answer is always the same:  no. That might sound harsh, but let’s look at this a little closer. If…

Read More

Common Cancer Mistake: Assuming Chemotherapy Is Not an Option

Do dogs suffer during chemotherapy for their cancer treatments? This veterinary oncologist has an answer that might surprise you.

Read More

Common Dog Cancer Mistake: Doing Too Many Diagnostic Tests Before Seeing the Oncologist

When you first hear your dog has cancer, you may panic and feel that everything must be done, and now. It’s true, cancer is an urgent situation, and it’s a great idea to find out as much information about your dog’s cancer as is possible. But how many diagnostic tests should you have your vet…

Read More

Common Cancer Mistake: Starting Your Dog with Lymphoma on Prednisone Too Soon

It happens all the time, so don’t beat yourself up if you’ve done it. But if you can, avoid the use of steroids (such as prednisone) before chemotherapy, or before the diagnosis of lymphoma is confirmed. Now, I’m not bashing prednisone across the board. Steroids are used for many things in veterinary medicine. For example,…

Read More

Five common mistakes with cancer surgery, and how to avoid them in your dog

Mistake # 1: Watching and Waiting Don’t: Watch the bump or lump. Do: get an aspirate or biopsy. I’ve blogged about this before, but it deserves repeating. No one, not even a boarded oncologist like me, can look at a skin mass, or a mass in the spleen, liver, or lung on imaging, and tell…

Read More

Primary Lung Tumors, part 2

Unlike people where lung cancer is one of the top five cancers and the leading cause of cancer related deaths worldwide, primary lung cancer is very rare in dogs. Dogs are often diagnosed with lung cancer as in incidental finding during a routine geriatric screen. Lung Cancer Symptoms in Dogs Often dogs have NO clinical signs,…

Read More

Uncommon Tumors: Primary Lung Tumors, Part 1

As a boarded oncologist, I see not only the common cancers in dogs like lymphoma, mast cell tumors, osteosarcomas, hemangiosarcomas, and mammary cancers. But I also see the uncommon ones. Recently I have been seeing more of the uncommon tumors, and what’s even strange to me, I am seeing more that one within a few…

Read More

What’s my dog’s prognosis?

Once you have been told the horrible news that your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, so many thoughts start racing around your head. One of the common questions I get is, “How long will my dog live, Doc?” Despite all my training and experience as an oncologist, this is so hard to answer. During…

Read More

Spay/neuter and the association with cancer in dogs: part three

“Reproduction is a risky affair.” “Reproduction is a risky affair” is the attention-getting opening line in one of the studies I’ll review today (Hoffman, 2013). But before we go through the new studies, let’s review my previous blogs on this topic. They have been generating some controversy, and with good reason — this is a…

Read More

Spay/neuter and the association with cancer in dogs: part two

Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) continues her discussion on how spaying and neutering our dogs can increase their risk for certain aggressive cancers.

Read More

Spay/neuter and the association with cancer in dogs: part one

In the US, there is widespread recommendation for early spay and neuter. But recently the association of spay/neutering and cancer in dogs has been in the news again. Specifically the concern is that spay/neutering increases the risk of cancer, which brings into question this recommendation to spay/neuter at 6 months of age. We are going…

Read More

Chemotherapy for Osteosarcoma

In my last two posts about osteosarcoma (OSA), we discussed treatments that address the tumor affecting the bone. We discussed amputation, Stereotactic RadioSurgery (SRS) like Cyberknife, palliative radiation, and limb-spare surgery. While these treatments are important for the malignant tumor destroying the bone, metastasis (cancer spread) is inevitable.  So even if the primary tumor is…

Read More

Osteosarcoma: when amputation is not an option, part 2

In my last post, I went through some “alternatives-to-amputation,” including palliative radiation and limb-spare surgery. Now we will review stereotactic radiosurgery. Stereotactic RadioSurgery: radiation instead of surgery RadioSurgery is used INSTEAD of surgery, when traditional surgery with a scalpel blade is impossible or would cause unacceptable side effects to the patient (for example, in brain…

Read More

Osteosarcoma: when amputation is not an option

In my most recent blog, we discussed amputation for limb osteosarcoma (OSA), the most common local treatment for the primary tumor in the bone. We discussed that amputation is not an easy decision for pet Guardians, even though most older dogs with average, moderate arthritis usually do well on three legs. If my clients are…

Read More

Osteosarcoma and Amputation: myths and facts

In my last blog, I gave my recommendations about osteosarcoma (OSA) work up. Now it’s time to talk about treatment. Conventional treatment for OSA targets: The primary tumor with local treatment (surgery and/or radiation) The likely micrometastasis with systemic treatment (chemotherapy) Today, I am going to talk about amputation. The Goal The main goal of…

Read More

Dr. Sue’s Recommended Tests for Osteosarcoma Diagnosis and Work up (pre-surgical biopsy optional)

As I discussed in the previous blog, the first sign of osteosarcoma (OSA) that a pet Guardian sees is usually limping, or refusing to put weight on the leg involved. This is because bone tumors hurt, especially when the bone bears weight — so your dog will be lame or will limp. You may see…

Read More

Osteosarcoma, part one

Osteosarcoma (OSA) is the most common bone cancer in dogs, accounting for about 85% of bone cancer cases. The bottom line on OSA is that metastasis is a problem: 90% of patients will die from the metastasis within the 1st year when amputation is the only treatment. Those are grim statistics, but it is the…

Read More

Why I love being an oncologist

In my first blog, I wrote about that many people I meet cannot believe I am an oncologist for dogs and cats. I know it sounds weird, maybe even corny, but I am so thankful for my job. As the year comes to a close, I have thought a lot recently about how grateful I…

Read More

How Long to “Watch and Wait”

Last week I told you about two recent cases in which the tumors were too big for surgery by the time they came to me. I also promised to give you some guidelines about how long to wait when your vet says “let’s just monitor this.” Too many lumps and bumps are being monitored for…

Read More

Waiting and watching — but for how long?

Have you been told to “just watch” a lump or mass on your dog by a veterinarian? I wouldn’t be surprised if you have. I too have advised that to my pet Guardians.  But how long is ok? What size is too big?  Are there actual guidelines? In my veterinary training, I was taught that…

Read More

Mast cell tumor treatment: chemotherapy

In my last blog, I discussed surgery and radiation for MCT. Today we will focus on chemotherapy. Which dogs need chemo? Your dog may not even need chemotherapy. In many dogs that I see with MCT, I do not recommend chemotherapy at all. This is because chemotherapy is not as effective as surgery and radiation…

Read More