Living With a Dog That Has Cancer
The word "cancer" is enough to strike terror into the heart of most people. Just like humans can suffer from cancer, dogs are also susceptible to this terrible condition. Some people are surprised to know that dogs get cancer and aren't aware that there are cancer specialists (oncologists) that deal with canine cancer. Unfortunately cancer can strike pets with frightening frequency, especially as they age. It is not uncommon for a dog owner to discover their dog has cancer when performing a routine checkup. Dealing with cancer in a pet can be a very difficult experience but you should try to do what's best for your pet.
Cancer can affect the skin tissue, organs and bones of dogs, just like with humans. There are many different types of cancer which are categorized according to location and severity. Cancers that are aggressive are usually the type that spread to other locations and these are the hardest to treat. Sadly, an animal may have been suffering from cancer for quite some time before it begins showing any symptoms and this makes it vital that you perform regular blood tests and checkups for your pet on a regular basis. Caught in time, the prognosis can be positive, so early detection and treatment is crucial.
If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, the highest priority on your list should be pain management. You should do everything in your power to prevent your pet from suffering. Pain medication such as pills, anesthesia, injections and pain relieving patches are commonly used to prevent pain. Gentle handling and care should be provided for your dog as well as comfortable bedding.
Chemotherapy may be recommended by your vet as part of the cancer treatment and it is comforting to know that many dogs don't experience nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy like their human counterparts. However, if your dog does vomit during treatment you should be very careful to ensure that he doesn't become dehydrated as sick pets may sometimes refuse to drink. Dehydration is fatal to a pet. Also observe your dog's appetite; if his appetite decreases you have to make sure he is getting ample nutrition. Appetite stimulants and supplements may be prescribed by your vet to aid with this.
Offer your dog foods he likes, do everything possible to make sure your dog is eating. Tempting him with tasty food can help. You should also try to keep your dog as stress free as possible during this time. Food that is easy to digest yet nutritious is best as well as omega-3 supplements. If your dog refuses to eat your vet may have to insert a feeding tube to make sure the dog is getting much needed nutrients.
If the condition deteriorates to the point where your dog becomes listless or in pain and there's nothing more you or your vet can do to make his life comfortable, you may find yourself coming to a very difficult time in any pet owner's life, having to make the decision of whether your beloved pet's quality of life has become so compromised that euthanasia is an option you should begin to consider. You should discuss this will your vet and try to base your decision on what is best for your pet. It is never an easy decision to make and you should try to get as much information as possible from your vet to help you make the right decision for your best friend.
Cancer can be a very emotionally draining experience and the best thing you can do for your pet is to ensure he is comfortable and pain free and give him a lot of love and attention.
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