It is heartbreaking to learn that a pet has cancer.
We want to do whatever we can to relieve our pet’s pain or discomfort and keep them with us for as long as possible. The care and support we provide can be the biggest factor in helping our pets make it through, as well as in preventing their cancer from returning.
Here are some of the best steps you can take along the way:
Get a Diagnosis
A diagnosis from a veterinarian is the first step for your pet. Your vet is a medical professional who will be able to answer your questions and recommend a primary treatment plan.
Your vet will also be able to tell the difference between cancer and another condition, such as lipoma (benign fatty deposits).
Some of the signs and symptoms of cancer may be similar to humans, including:
>> Weight loss
>> Change in appetite
>> Abnormal growth (of the tumor)
Initial Steps to Take
Get all the information you can from trustworthy sources. There is a lot of incorrect information online. Ask your vet questions such as:
>> What type of cancer does my pet have?
>> How advanced is this form of cancer?
>> Which are the treatment options?
The Types of Cancer in Pets
Cancer of the lymph nodes, melanoma, and bones, as well as mast cell tumors, are the most common types of cancer in pets. Older pets have suppressed immune systems due to the aging of their immune cells—some organs are part of the immune system, therefore not just the cells age, but the immune system including organs and cells—so they will be at a higher risk of cancer as they age.
The following steps can help ease your stress and help you understand what you can do when you learn that your pet has cancer.
1. Educate yourself: learn all you can about the type of cancer your pet has.
Some cancers can spread to other areas of the body through the blood or lymph vessels and may affect other organs. This spreading is called metastasis.
Benign tumors grow relatively slow and are sometimes easily removed, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause harm. Malignant tumors are fast-growing, are not easily removed, and can metastasize.
2. Consult with a cancer specialist (oncologist): veterinarian oncologists have at least four years of additional training following their veterinary certification and are often highly experienced in cancer care.
A cancer specialist will be able to supply up-to-date treatment options best suited for your pet. Further tests can also be determined that may give more insight into the severity of that cancer.
3. Identify your pet’s treatment options: Talk to your vet about all possible treatment options, including integrative pet care utilizing holistic supplements.
Most pets respond differently to cancer treatment than humans do. Make sure to discuss pain management and ways to include comfort measures such as anti-nausea medication.
4. Join a Support Group: You and your pet don’t have to do this alone.
Support groups are where other pet owners going through the same experiences may help offset some of your worries and fears. These pet owners can share the treatment plans they are using, as well as stories about how well they’re working.
Not all cancers are terminal; your pet’s condition may be manageable.
5. Stay Positive: Pets are sensitive and responsive to their owner’s feelings and behaviors.
Things you can do to help your pet avoid getting cancer:
>> Feed them a clean diet. Make sure to give your pet food with minimally processed ingredients.
>> Reduce your pet’s exposure to unhealthy chemicals, including household cleaning products and pesticides.
>> Feed your pet natural supplements to support your pet’s immunity, including foods that contain ingredients such as: Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, or turmeric.
Our pets give us unconditional love, and nothing hurts us worse than to see them in pain. Giving them added love and attention during their cancer journey will not only help your pet, but it will also help you as well.
It’s best to show happiness to your pet. If you show them that you are sad, they’ll feel it, and it can cause them to feel depressed.
Cancer may not be the end, and with proper treatment and nutritious food and love, you can give your pet their best shot at a long and fulfilling life.