May 02

May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month – Pet Owners Urged to Educate Themselves

In support of the seventh annual “Pet Cancer Awareness Month,” recognized in May 2016 by several pet organizations, we encourage pet owners to learn more about pet cancer, its symptoms and treatments. Navigating a cancer diagnosis can be a scary time for a pet owner, and it is important and helpful to have access to information.  With this blog we hope to empower pet owners with online resources about common canine cancers and courses of action that can help encourage conversations about cancer between pet owners and their primary care veterinarians.

Cancer treatment involves a lot of communication between what is referred to as the ‘triad of care’ – the pet parent, the primary care veterinarian, and the specialist. The pet parent needs to be aware of any unusual lumps or bumps a pet may have, the primary care veterinarian will aspirate those bumps to find out if they are cancerous or benign, and the specialist will develop a tailored treatment plan for that individual pet patient, based on the information received from the owner and primary care veterinarian.

According to a recent survey, 63 percent of pet owners were not aware that veterinary specialty medicine even existed. Due to those statistics, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) launched http://vetspecialists.com/, as part of a joint national awareness campaign to educate the public about veterinary specialty medicine. The website is a valuable resource to pet owners. In human healthcare, it is important to see a specialist upon a diagnosis of cancer, and the same idea holds true for pet owners and their pets. A veterinary oncologist brings expertise to the situation and can provide the pet owner and the primary care veterinarian with a plan of treatment options and anticipated outcomes.

As described on http://vetspecialists.com/, the pet owner’s primary care veterinarian plays an important role in the cancer treatment process. If a team approach is what is best for a pet, the primary care veterinarian serves as the quarterback. The primary care veterinarian knows that patient and the owner. In many cases, the primary care veterinarian may have cared for the pet for years, from puppyhood. To create the best plan for the pet and the owner, it’s important that the primary care veterinarian is involved early on and frequently during treatment and follow-up.

Typically, it’s the primary care veterinarian who is on the front line. The PCV can provide early detection and preventative care.   So, when you see something, it’s time to act. Pet owners need to be proactive in detecting any suspicious lumps on their pets and see their primary care veterinarians as early as possible to get the lump aspirated. If the mass is the size of a pea and is there for one month, go to the primary care veterinarian for a simple test.  The vet can then test it to determine if it is cancer or not.

Pet parent education and discussing cancer in pets more openly will help raise awareness of the disease as well as new treatment options. So don’t be afraid to talk about it. Cancer therapies and treatments in pets are very effective if the cancer is caught early enough.

The earlier the cancer is diagnosed in pets, the more treatment options are available and the less expensive the overall treatment will be. It’s important to note that pets handle cancer treatment very well, much better than their human counterparts. With proper nutrition and support, eighty to ninety percent don’t have any side effects of chemotherapy and the other 10 to 20 percent usually have very mild symptoms. Seeing how a pet responds to treatment and therapy, whether it’s surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and/or oral therapy, allows the specialists to adjust what is needed based on those side effects. Additional support like Immune therapy and good nutrition helps pets fight the disease. The supplements sold online and at K9 Critical Care, Mushroom Science andHealthy Dogma are naturally grown and carefully handled to ensure the most benefits for your dog.

Pets frequently recover more rapidly and are home with their owners more quickly than most pet owners typically expect following surgery. If the veterinary oncologist determines that a pet is a candidate for surgery, the surgical oncologist will discuss potential benefits, risks, and treatments.

An animal’s age does not mean that animal shouldn’t be treated. Veterinarians will look at many factors before making a determination for best course of action or treatment. The point of Pet Cancer Awareness month in May is to empower pet parents with knowledge so they realize that cancer is not an automatic death sentence for their pets.

 

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Apr 28

Treatment and Prevention of Canine Cancer

The “C” word. Really scary. For those with older dogs or breeds predisposed to cancer, it’s good to be aware of influences and what to look for. The list of different types of cancer is long. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts as well as advice and tips for helping your dog stay healthy.

Do

Do understand that cancer is caused by genetic and environmental exposures

Studies in humans have found genetic links to cancer. But not everyone who has the genetic trait develops cancer. The same is true for our dogs. Just because Scottish Terriers are predisposed to cancer, especially in the bladder, doesn’t mean they will all develop cancer. There are clearly other factors at work. What is important to know is what cancer your dog’s breed is more likely to get. Then you know what to look for, take preventative measures, and/ or catch things early if they happen.

Do reduce inflammation

Shedding is the key here. If your dog sheds a lot year-round, he/she may have inflammation. What is inflammation anyway? Inflammation is the body saying something doesn’t agree with it. Certainly inflammation gone wrong can develop into cancer. Early stages of inflammation can display as shedding in our dogs. The primary things that cause shedding are inappropriate diet, overuse of vaccines and medications, and stress. Diets based on meats, no grains, and filled with antioxidants will help reduce inflammation.

Do find out exactly what it is when a lump is removed

Saving $100-200 by not sending a lump to the lab may cost your dog in the future. If you don’t know now, you have less information on which to act later.

 Do consider all treatment options

Don’t look at just surgery or chemotherapy but also look at natural regimens. There are some exciting new products with well-documented studies that can help in certain types of cancer. Some cancers are treated by surgery, some by chemotherapy, some with herbs, and some with a combination. There are immune boosting mushrooms (K9 Critical Care is a great option), herbal blends like Essiac Tea, and essential oils like frankincense for example. If your vet or veterinary oncologist doesn’t know all the options, keep looking. There are those who do.

Don’t

Don’t over-vaccinate

Vaccinations contain stimulants, may contain mercury, and work to ramp up the immune system. An over-ramped immune system can attack itself and is a contributor to some types of cancer. Dogs can have tumors at the actual spot where the vaccine was given years before. Cancer can also develop away from the injection site: spleen, pancreas, liver, bone, the list goes on. Current vaccination guidelines suggest that vaccinating every 3 years is better for our dogs, decreasing their chances of side effects and tumors. Unless there is a strong reason for a non-core vaccine, stick to the basics. Review core vaccines (rabies, distemper, parvo) with your vet and be sure you are doing the right thing for your dog.

Don’t wait if you find a mass

It is common practice for lumps in the skin that are freely moving, non-painful and still have fur to just watch them. It is presumed these are fatty masses. However, there have been some situations where what was presented as a fatty mass was actually a mast cell tumor. At the least, have a biopsy (stick the lump with a needle and have it examined under the microscope) performed. For masses that change size quickly, are painful, lose hair, interfere with movement or any body function, don’t wait to have the lump checked out. The sooner you determine what it is, the better your chances of helping your dog.

Don’t feed your dog kibble or food with grains

Grains and starches are known to feed cancer cells, helping tumors grow faster and larger. Many canine cancer patients who are looking for everything they can do to slow progression switch their dogs to a real food diet, some even opt to feed raw as it is least inflammatory. While raw diets are not for every pet owner, real food is at least the diet ticket to slow progression.   Homemade, natural food such as Petmix by Healthy Dogma is a great option and helps the pet owner ensure the dog is getting only top quality nutrition to help fight the disease.

Don’t give up just because you receive the cancer diagnosis

Often we can coexist with tumors for quite some time. While cancer makes us worry for quality of life, as long as our best friend is still doing many of his or her favorite things, quality of life is still good. And there have been times a diagnosis is not exact. There may be treatments possible. Even if chemo and radiation are not possible, by reducing inflammation our dogs may live in balance with their tumors for some time.

Summary

Cancer is a very scary diagnosis. To give your dog the best help possible, do what you can to decrease inflammation before the diagnosis, know what your dog is susceptible to and search all avenues if the diagnosis ever comes. The sooner you know what you are dealing with, the sooner you can help your dog in the fight.

 

 

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Apr 27

Fighting Dog Cancer

You just heard the words no dog owner ever wants to hear … “your dog has cancer”. Suddenly you are faced with making a frenzy of life and death decisions for your beloved friend while fighting back the tears. Should I do chemo? What about holistic medicine? What about surgery? Do I change his diet? Organic or medicinal? Should I euthanize?

Experts predict that half of all dogs will get some type of cancer in their lifetimes with 80 percent of dogs over the age of 10 dying from the disease. The grim statistics go on. But the good news is that for every dog that passes away, there are thousands of stories of survival yet to be told.

Just like with human cancer, it’s important to approach the cancer journey with hope. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Talk to other pet owners who have been down the canine cancer road with their own dogs. The website, www.FightDogCancer.com, has proven to be helpful for many pet owners like yourself. FightDogCancer.com not only creates a community where dog owners can share tips and advice, post pictures and simply just vent about the journey, but also leverages the power of information to raise money for dog cancer charities. FightDogCancer.com is the companion site to the book, The 42 Rules to Fight Dog Cancer. Similar to the book, the goal of the website is to build a repository of dog cancer stories and treatment plans and tips from dog owners, but in a searchable format, so that those dealing with dog cancer can learn from the collective wisdom.
  2. Always talk to an oncologist whenever possible. For a list of veterinary professionals that have worked with Paws4acure, a website to help dog owners facing dog cancer, go to http://www.paws4acure.org/veterinary-professionals.php
  3. Do research to educate yourself
  4. If you need financial assistance, there are places you can try. To apply, go to http://www.paws4acure.org/askforhelp.php

Even if you can’t afford traditional treatments, there are still things you can                       do. Try http://www.paws4acure.org/helpfulresources.php for additional                           financial resources

5. Look for clinical trials

  1. Consider adding a wellness program to traditional treatments.
  2. Check out K9CriticalCare.com. You’ll find several dog owner testimonials and reviews on their immune therapy product K9 Critical Care. You can read numerous positive outcomes that dog owners have experienced by using medicinal mushrooms to boost the immune system and help the pet fight the disease. There is hope in the dog cancer fight.
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Jul 22

Clinical Signs That Might Indicate Cancer in Dogs

It’s easy to think any strange lump or issue with your pet is cancer.

Thankfully, many times it is not cancer, and the odd symptoms or issues are caused by a different sickness all together. Contact your vet if you see any unusual symptoms, but don’t worry yourself sick until you have a diagnosis.

Even still, here are a handful of signs that you should watch out for that MAY mean “cancer.”

  • Lumps (especially new ones; those that grow quickly; those that appear, decrease in size or disappear, and then reappear or enlarge; and those that change color or easily bleed)
  • Skin sores or irritated areas
  • Red spots on the skin, gums, or mucous membranes
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
  • Lack of, or decreased appetite
  • Abdominal enlargement (potbellied appearance)
  • Weakness or exercise intolerance
  • Excessive panting or heavy breathing
  • Collapse
  • Pale gums or mucous membranes
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding or chronic discharge from wounds or orifices
  • Change in bowel habits (chronic diarrhea, vomiting, or both)
  • Change in urinary habits (blood in the urine or urinary incontinence)

Remember, these symptoms do not automatically equal cancer, but any time a pet does have an illness that doesn’t respond to treatment within a month or two, cancer must be considered.

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Jun 24

How Cancer Kills

This can be a difficult post to read, especially if your pet has already been diagnosed with cancer, and we are sorry for that. But the more you know about your dog or cat’s disease, the more empowered you will feel about what is happening and how you can help your pet.

Cancer (or euthanasia due to cancer’s effects) kills in one of four ways:

  1. Locally aggressive cancers can cause large, infected wounds and sores. Depending on the tumor’s location, the quality of life may get to a point where owners feel it is best to put a stop to their beloved pet’s suffering.
  2. Cancer can cause secondary syndromes that result in illnesses or internal changes not compatible with life, which brings the death of a pet.
  3. Cancer can kill by a tumor spreading to other parts of the body (to the brain, causing seizures or death; to the lungs, causing difficulty in breathing, and so on).
  4. Lastly, cancer can kill by taking all a pet’s nutrition for itself, starving the dog or cat’s body.

So as you already know, an early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is crucial in helping to minimize the spread and effects of cancer or wipe it out completely. And always feed your pet the best food you can, and boost his or her immune system with supplements (especially medicinal mushroom supplements).

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Jun 19

The Susceptibility of Certain Cells in Becoming Cancerous

Certain cells are more susceptible to turning into cancer cells. Once normal, healthy cells genetically mutate into cancer cells (usually because of inflammation or excessive oxidation), they begin rapidly dividing and push into the surrounding areas of healthy tissue. The battle against cancer is often won or lost at this microscopic stage.

If your dog has a healthy immune system, his body will attack and get rid of the mutated cells all on its own.When the immune system is functioning in a subpar manner, however, the mutated cells keep dividing and growing and may start developing into tumors. Cancer may also take the form of ulcers or non-healing sores on your pet.

Skin Cancer

Skin cells may be more susceptible to cancer when they lack a lot of pigment. Areas of pale skin or minimal fur don’t protect your pet as well from the sun’s damaging rays, letting inflammation occur.

Cancer of the Lymph Nodes and Reproductive Organs

These areas are at greater risk of developing cancer because the cells in them are continually growing and reproducing. By spaying or neutering pets, the hormones that contribute to the possiblity of genetic mutations are reduced.

Lung Cancer

There haven’t been a lot of studies, but there is a possible link between secondhand smoke and cancer in cats, but not in dogs.

Also, limit your pets’ exposure to environmental toxins. Dogs around weed killer have shown to have a higher risk level of developing lymphoma, bladder cancer, and more.

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Jun 12

Why Every Tumor Should be Tested

We just have a simple reminder for our post today: Test tumors.

No one, and we mean no one, can accurately diagnose a tumor (also called lesions) under the skin just by looking at it and feeling it. Many vets will start out by feeling a mass, and adopting a “wait and see” attitude if they feel it seems to be a noncancerous fatty tumor or cyst.

Most lumps and bumps are benign, but don’t take the risk of waiting. Too many times, what was originally declared harmless is later determined as cancer.

Vets should always do full diagnostic testing, usually by examining the sample drawn from the tumor with a tiny needle or biopsying it in some way. An X-ray or a blood test of a pet with unexplained symptoms can also be done to reveal the pet’s issue.

Once the cause is determined from testing, then the proper care treatment can be set up. When it comes to your pet’s life, it is better to be safe than sorry.

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