While we receive so much love from our pets, there are times unexpected illness happens. In fact, an estimated six million dogs a year are diagnosed with cancer.
The realization that your pet is gravely ill can be tough on you and your family. But there are important steps to take when you find out your dog has cancer.
Today we look at how you can help yourself deal with your dog’s cancer while also being the best caretaker possible.
How to Deal with Your Dog’s Cancer Diagnosis
There are several steps you should take once you discover that your dog has cancer. And the more passionately you adopt these steps, the better your mindset will be, and the better you will be able to help your dog through this difficult time. Consider some of the steps below.
Recognize That Cancer Is Somewhat Common
It’s important to realize that a dog getting cancer is somewhat common. The Veterinary Cancer Society puts cancer as the cause of death for about 47% of dogs. This means that your dog has about a 50-50 chance of getting cancer, and this rate only increases as your dog goes over the age of ten.
Knowing that dog cancer rates are this high shouldn’t put you in a bad mood either. These rates are about as common as cancer in humans, though humans have many more forms of cancer than dogs.
Because cancer is dogs is so common, there are many support groups for you and your dog. Just remember that most support groups are managed by pet owners who have had similar experiences. While they may mean well, they likely are not a licensed grief counselor. Should you feel the need, a licensed therapist or counselor can help you in times like this.
Learn About Your Dog’s Specific Form of Cancer
Dogs can be affected by about 100 different forms of cancer, and each one is going to behave a little differently. Because of this, one of your first steps should be to learn about your dog’s specific form of cancer.
By learning more about your pet’s cancer, you can work toward better care for your dog, which leads to the next point.
Learn About Treatment Options
Just like when people develop cancer, there are numerous treatment options available for dogs with cancer. These options include:
- Radiation therapy
Your dog may also be a good candidate for more than one form of treatment. It’s important to listen to the advice of your veterinarian but be sure to not make any decisions hastily. You should make certain that you understand your vet’s suggestions while also educating yourself on all the options you have available.
Consider Your Dog’s Quality of Life
We often see images on social media of people who are fighting cancer. Some people lose their hair with treatment, while others become weak. There are even worse consequences of cancer treatment as well.
While most agree that deciding to fight cancer is an act of bravery, we think of it as being brave because it is incredibly difficult. Fighting cancer also puts a huge toll on the body. Because of this, you might consider not treating your dog.
If your dog has lived well beyond life expectancy for their breed, you might consider not treating their cancer. Cancer treatments are extremely invasive and affect almost all aspects of life. If your dog’s favorite activities include long walks or swimming, their ability to do this could be compromised.
Your vet may be able to recommend options for pain management which can help ease their suffering, but you should consider how good a life your dog will have during and after treatment.
Consider Financial Strains
Normal vet bills can be expensive. If your dog has developed cancer, you can expect to be paying these bills often. If you have already gotten pet insurance, now is the time to put it to use.
Visits, medicines and treatments will add up. You could soon be over your head in medical bills if you do not plan.
Try to Keep to Your Routine
Like with humans, cancer is a long-term battle. It’s important that you don’t disrupt your schedule too much. If you stop sleeping and taking care of yourself, you can’t care for your dog.
It’s also important that your dog keeps a routine, too. A sick dog needs routine just as much as a healthy one. Adjust the routine to what your dog can do. If your dog was used to being home alone all day before they got sick, consider getting a dog sitter or neighbor to check on them daily. They might need the extra support.
With all the new treatments available today, be hopeful that everything will work out. Spend as much time with you dog as you can and show them the love they deserve.