Treating Cancer in Pets

If we suspect that your pet has cancer, or you suspect that they have cancer it is likely that you are feeling scared. Please remember through this process that a cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence nor does it mean pain and suffering for your pet.
We are here to answer your questions and to help you understand the ways that we can help your pet. The first step in removing some of the fear is to find out what we are dealing with.

What to Expect During Diagnosis

When cancer is suspected, one of the first things we do is determine:

  1. – The type of cancer cell.
  2. – The amount of cancer and whether it has spread (metastasized).

The goal of the diagnosis is to assess the cancer cells in your pet to develop the best treatment care plan. When collecting information, we sample the cells of the tumour to learn:

  • – How quickly the tumour cells grow (aggressiveness)
  • – How invasive the tumour cells are (how easily they can grow into adjoining tissues)
  • – How far the tumours cells can travel and start new growths (metastasis).

The goal of the diagnosis is to assess these three characteristics in your pet, so that we know what we are working with and can plan treatment.

Diagnostic Tests (may include some or all of the following):

  • Comprehensive blood chemistry
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Urinalysis
  • Needle aspirates of tissues as a screening test
  • Tissue biopsy (dependent on needle aspirate results)
  • Cell typing if appropriate to truly define the disease.

Other Diagnostic Tests Commonly Required

Depending on the location of the suspected tumour(s), the usual pattern of metastases for this tumour cell type, and the breed of your pet, the following tests may be needed for the veterinarian to clearly understanding the cancer progress in your pet, and to be able to make reccomendations for a treatment care plan.

  • An ophthalmic exam
  • X-rays of the chest and abdomen
  • Ultrasound of the abdomen
  • Bone marrow aspirate and core sample
  • Measurement of enlarged lymph nodes
  • CT scan

Developing a Plan

After completing the diagnosis your veterinarian will talk with you about the results and will be able to discuss a realistic idea of prognosis for your pet. A cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, nor does it mean pain and suffering for your pet. Your veterinarian will work with you to formulate a health care plan that will take care of your pet’s needs. Treatments may involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or a combination of any of these.

Our promise to you and your pet

As we go through the diagnostic steps and proceed with treatment, our pledge to you and your pet will be compassionate care. We will not allow our patients to hurt, we will prevent vomiting and diarrhea and we will not let them waste away. Excellent medications are available to deal with pain and GI side effects. Dietary requirements will be met with a specifically designed diet, supplements as necessary and often the use of an implanted feeding tube or appetite stimulants.

As our goal is always quality of life first and then longevity, we will empower you to treat your pet at home as much as possible. Some cancers can be cured outright, many can be controlled for the long term and all can be palliated to prevent needless suffering. Let us work together to beat it as best we can.

Here are some interesting and informative links to help you on this journey