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.