Cancer and Your Pet
If you have a dog or cat with cancer you already know the fear that receiving the diagnosis brings. Next comes the whirlwind of information you obtain from your veterinarian (and perhaps through internet searches), about the disease itself and its effects on your pet. After all of that, you then embark on the difficult process of choosing the best course of action and treatment options. It can be incredibly overwhelming and we understand.
A number of clients come to us already knowing their pet has cancer and wanting a second opinion. Some pet owners may find out after suspecting cancer is present while others are completely shocked and surprised to hear a cancer diagnosis. No matter how you come to know your pet has cancer, once you find out, it is critical to make decisions about the treatment plan as soon as you can.
Here at The Country Vet we offer traditional cancer treatments such as surgery, medication and chemotherapy along with precision tools for diagnosis such as ultrasound and digital x-ray. One of the unique tools we have for surgery is a CO2 Surgical Laser that reduces tumor recurrence and accelerates healing time. For more complicated cases, we may refer you to an oncologist and then collaborate with them to provide the best possible care for your pet. Other treatment options are more holistically oriented and include herbs, acupuncture, diet modification, nutraceuticals, and reducing toxin exposure (stopping the use of flea & tick products, heartworm preventatives, vaccines, etc.). These holistic options can be integrated with traditional therapies to obtain the best outcome for your pet. Cancer should not simply be viewed as an enemy to be eradicated at the expense of the wellbeing of the animal but rather a condition to be treated in an effort to provide a cure or extension of life while also supporting the overall health and happiness of the pet.
Dr. Jim Codington has seen tremendous life extension in many of his cancer patients over the years using a combination of traditional methods along with Chinese herbs and other modalities. Some of the most successful cases are with cancers such as Lymphoma, Mast Cell Tumors, External Sarcomas and Hemangiosarcomas. Even terminal cases that have come to him with short life expectancies have again and again beaten the odds with his integrated approach. One interesting technique he employs is a low-dose oral chemotherapy regimen. It can be administered at home and is less toxic overall to the body. This can also used in combination with chemotherapy treatments in our hospital. A new approach Dr. Jim is researching involves using Metformin as a treatment. We should have that option available sometime in 2014. Our other vets, Dr. Kathleen Olson and Dr. Nick Morphopoulos, also have much experience treating cancers of all kinds and offer an experienced, compassionate and balanced approach.
If you suspect your pet has cancer, please schedule an appointment right away. Some symptoms of cancer include:
- Lumps (which are not always malignant, but should always be examined by a vet)
- Swelling of a limb or abdomen
- Persistent sores or bumps on the skin
- Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
- Bad breath
- Rapid or unexplained weight loss
- Black, tarry stools
- Decreased or loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
One last thought: Cancer can be scary but it isn’t always a death sentence. Remember that many pets live years beyond their diagnosis. Your choices now can help them live as long and comfortably as possible. This time can also be a time of intense bonding between you and your pet so make sure to give them lots of hugs and kisses every day and appreciate your time together.