What to do when you find out your pet has cancer 12



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When we find out our pet has cancer, it’s some of the most devastating news we’ll ever hear. We can feel so helpless.

But you don’t have to, as there are many ways you can assist a pet who is suffering from cancer to make them more comfortable.


Give them a balanced diet

As you may be aware, nutritional support is very important for all cancer patients, and is especially true for cats because even minimal cancer-induced stress often makes them disinterested in eating. Cancer cachexia is a form of malnutrition that affects many pets with cancer, particularly those who have widespread cancer in their bodies. Offer your pet flavoursome, highly digestible and energy-dense diets to help prolong their lives. Feed them slowly and don’t forget to pet them, hug them, encourage them.


Read all you can about your pet’s type of cancer

When you receive the horrible diagnosis that your pet has cancer, it can be worthwhile to read up about what the cancer is, to put your mind at ease. Your vet should be able to provide information and what treatment options are available. When doing your own research, try not to get too caught up in statistics. While knowledge is power, don’t take it all as gospel.


Learn about treatment options

Find out where you can go for treatment and what that process will look like and cost, as not every vet clinic can offer quality cancer care. You may need to work with an oncologist, a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary radiation facility in order to pursue the treatment option you want. Research treatment and facilities that provide is so you get the best price and result for your pet.


Be open to all the options available

Aside from traditional veterinarians, there are many complementary and alternative cancer approaches that can be very beneficial to your pet. Some of the most commonly used include acupunture, herbal remedies and homeopathy.


Trust your instincts and what you know about your pet

You are your pet’s owner and ultimately, you know more about your pet than anyone else. Of course, a vet’s opinion is very valued but if you eel that your pet will not survive treatment, then you can make that decision. It’s okay because there is no one right path and there are no guarantees. All you can do is follow your heart.


Talk to other pet owners who have been through it before

Although you may want to tackle this on your own, you shouldn’t have to suffer through the heartbreak of a pet’s cancer diagnosis. Find peers online or in your social circle who may have been through the same thing, and learn from them.



Pet WebMD – Dogs and cancer facts

Canine Cancer

ASPCA Cat cancer care



At the end of the day, pets are blessed that they do not dwell on their illnesses and do not feel their impending death. This means they face death peacefully and we can rest easy knowing that a pet will be happy and comfortable as long as it has good food, a loving home and company. If you are sad, they will be sad – if you are at peace, they will be at peace too.

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. My eleven yr old Maltese just started walking on three legs….vet said…..pain relief……inflammation pills and the x-ray was showing very good white bones……a month later no change….took him to acupuncture……a couple of pins for nerve flow but she held him and said it was a serious problem deep inside and recommended another x-ray….did this next day and he showed the blackest bones I will never forget the snowy white changed to the black…all in one month…..aggressive cancer…..asked vet to take his leg off……was shown a chest x-ray with growths en masse……I requested that my pet not wake up……so sad but we loved him and couldn’t watch him go downhill aggressively

    1 REPLY
    • Sorry to hear the news about your dog. It sounds like the diagnosis was osteosarcoma. The big problem that researchers are trying to get answers for is the spread to the lungs. Dogs cope quite well generally with amputation but it is the spread to the lungs that kills them. At the moment there is a trial in Australia at five veterinary oncologists and human hospitals in Brisbane. The hope is that the drug Auranofin can stop this spread. Some dog breeds seem more at risk than others sadly. I own one of those breeds myself so it is always in the back of my mind.

  2. One of our family dogs has cancer on her left thigh. She is Lucy, a rescue dog who was adopted with her BIG pup several years ago. She clearly had a tough life before being rescued and went to the very best home.
    Today her leg is being amputated. I am wondering how she will cope with going to sleep with four legs and waking up with three. And she wont know why. Dogs dont need to know why do they? They just get on with it.

    1 REPLY
    • Philomena sorry to hear about your dog. Dogs with three legs generally cope very well. If you want to meet other dog owners who have experienced this try this link. http://www.tripawds.com This is a community full of dog owners with dogs with three links.

      My website http://www.caninecancer.org.au has heaps of information on all the different cancers as well as spelling it out in simple form some of the things you will hear a vet say to you on the subject. There is a terminology page, staging and grading, pathology page all the important things. There is also a forum where you can ask the oncologist things you need to know. Our Australian oncologists answer this. Cancer can be treated if it is done properly. My own dog Frodo survived 4.5 years with a very aggressive cancer. His story is on the homepage. Our FB page shares many, many stories of dogs with cancer.

  3. We had a most beautiful GSP. She had liver cancer and didn’t even drink wine. Like with a human, we nursed her through Chemo and loved her as much as we could. Took her to her favourite places and loved her until the end and she responded with trying to stay alive whilst we selfishly hand fed her. The day she turned her head away from SA fritz we knew she could take no more. She was ready. My only advice. Don’t wait too long.

  4. None of mine have so far. But it must be heartbreaking. I have a question. Are certain types of dogs prone to cancer, or is it just the luck of the draw?

    1 REPLY
    • Certain breeds of dogs have a higher incidence of some cancers. The Animal Health Trust in the UK is looking for samples from some dog breeds with certain cancers. This list is a bit of an indication of what they feel they need to concentrate on. My website has provided these kits to them so dog owners can get them free of charge if they have a dog with one of these cancers as per their list. The result of this has been a 600% increase in the number of samples they have received in the last five months since they were able to be free. http://www.caninecancer.org.au/researchuk.html This list is only what they are looking for an is not the only breeds affected. On the common cancer pages most of them tell you what breeds have the highest incidence. All the information on the website that is medical goes to an oncologist prior to being published so it is reliable.

  5. My GSP also had cancers whilst in Christchurch NZ She survived the ops and continued chasing earthquakes through the house. Now at 15 she’s lumpy bumpy & grumpy but absolutely my most loveable mate.

  6. I’ve just recently lost my 13.5 year old cat to liver cancer. Was lethargic and listless on the Monday, took him to vet first thing Tuesday morning, diagnosed as an indeterminate infection had antibiotics, no improvement Wednesday, bloods taken, results back Thursday indicated abnormal liver readings, X-rays Friday showed blockage from bile duct and large tumor on liver, our vet (not vet seen on 1st visit) gave us the devastating news that the kindest was to ease his suffering. Prior to being listless there were no other indications of this illness. My heart still aches for him.

  7. Ive heard some breeds are more prone to cancer, but it’s like Cavaliers (which I have), are more prone to heart problems. But if you love a particular breed, don’t be put off by “what might be”. I had 2 cavvies before that had heart problems and it wasn’t their hearts that caused their deaths.

  8. Yes our dog passed away with cancer he had his spline taken out and had Chemo $6000.00 later it still did not save him but he was worth it all a lovely dog

    1 REPLY
    • Mary I also have a greyhound and they have a higher incidence of osteosarcoma than some breeds. I love the hounds and whilst I know I have a higher risk than some other breeds, like you I wouldn’t have it any other way. Beautiful breed so the risk is worth it.

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