Archive for the ‘Cancer in Dogs’ Category

10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Pets — and What to Do: PET CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Posted on November 13th, 2013

1-in-5-catsCancer in pets is not a laughing matter. In my life I have lost several dogs and cats to the horrible disease.

Did you know that 12 million dogs and cats are diagnosed with cancer every year, according to PetCareRX?

I’m helping to spread the word because it’s Pet Cancer Awareness Month – I’d like to tell/show you some ways that loving pet parents can put a “paws” on cancer… So today, ThoughtsFurPaws.com is sharing a few infomemes created by PetCareRX – and the 10 warning signs of cancer in pets.Warning signs of cancer

If your pet exhibits any of these signs, it’s time to get them to a vet for a checkup. Remember, though — all of these symptoms can be caused by other health issues, too. What’s important is getting your veterinarian involved and getting a professional diagnosis.

How You Can Help Pets with Cancer

For every Facebook page LIKE PetCareRX receives, they are donating 50 cents to the National Canine Cancer Foundation; their goal is to raise $5,000 so go and LIKE them now please! It only takes a second!

pet-cancer-awareness-month

 

On a side note: I would like to dedicate this post to Gibson and Theodore… I love you and will never forget the years of dedication, love and enrichment that you brought to my life…. RIP at the Rainbow Bridge and I’ll see you again someday.

 

11 Myths About Pet Cancer Treatment

Posted on December 7th, 2012

1. Cancer doesn’t occur in dogs and cats.

Unfortunately, animal cancer is common. It’s the leading natural cause of death in dogs and the second leading cause in cats. Around 50% of all dogs and 30% of cats will be affected by a tumor in their lifetimes, and one report shows that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will die from cancer. Estimates indicate that cancer occurs at least as frequently in veterinary patients as in human patients.

2. There’s way more cancer now than before.

Yes and no. The incidence of some cancers has increased both in humans and in pets, but the perception that pet cancer rates have increased is most likely because most pets now receive better healthcare and live longer lives. While cancer can occur at any age, it most commonly affects older patients, and since cats and dogs live longer now, more cancer is diagnosed.

3. The environment/my neighbors/commercial dog food/tap water caused my dog’s cancer.

Cancer is a complex disease with both genetic and environmental effects at play. Because of inbreeding, genetic factors most likely play a much larger role in veterinary medicine, as borne out by the fact that there are breed predispositions towards particular cancers. But genetics certainly can’t account for all tumors, and environmental exposures may also contribute. Associations have been evaluated with environmental exposures such as secondhand smoke, herbicides, exposure to paint solvents, urban living, and so on. We strongly recommend that you not smoke (and not smoke around your pet). If you have concerns, you may also test for other exposures (tap water, asbestos, radon). However, please know in advance that whatever caused your pet’s cancer most likely will remain unknown. The best you can do for your pet is to feed a high quality dog food as the main diet, to keep your pet’s weight within normal range, to provide a safe and loving environment, to provide daily exercise, and to perform regular checkups and health care as appropriate for your pet’s age.

4. There’s no reason to treat cancer in pets. They’re just going to die from it anyway. Isn’t treatment just delaying the “inevitable?”

Well, aren’t we all just delaying the “inevitable?” That’s just life. Seriously though, while cancer is often thought of as one disease, it actually is a large and varied group of diseases that all have different outcomes, expectations, and treatment options. Some tumors are very aggressive, and treatment for these may be unrewarding. But others can be cured. Most are treated as chronic diseases in veterinary medicine. This means that a patient may eventually go on to succumb to the disease, but treatment is targeted to give the patient a good-to-great quality of life for a substantially longer time period than would otherwise be possible. For many pet owners, this benefit is well worth it. Certainly, it pays to seek advice as early as possible in the course of the disease and to learn what is possible for a particular cancer.

5. I’ve read a lot of books written by veterinarians who seem to know a lot about cancer and they’ve recommended treatments. So why do I need to go to a veterinary oncologist? Won’t he or she just charge me more and recommend toxic treatments?

There are veterinarians who have spent a considerable amount of time reading and writing about cancer; however, this experience in no way compares to the training undertaken by a board-certified specialist. A veterinary cancer specialist has completed 4 years of veterinary school, 1-3 years of internship training, and 3 years of residency training specific to oncology. A specialist has performed and published research in the peer-reviewed veterinary literature and has also passed a series of examinations both in general internal medicine and in the more specific field of veterinary oncology. Requirements to pass these examinations include knowing all of the major human and veterinary oncology texts and also the last 10 years of all of the veterinary and major human oncology studies published. In my time, it meant taking 24 total hours of additional examinations above and beyond those required to become a general veterinarian. If the information you are reading is not written by a board-certified veterinary cancer specialist, the information may not be as accurate or rigorous as it should be. Given their extensive knowledge and experience with pet cancer, board-certified veterinary cancer specialists should be your most trusted source of information.

As for treatment, veterinary cancer specialists recommend first what is known to be most effective for a particular patient. For many pet cancers, recommendations may include cytotoxic (cell killing) drugs and radiation. This is because the goal of treatment is to either remove or kill tumor cells so that normal cells can survive and thrive instead. However, please note that every case is different, and if effective alternative options are available, they can also be discussed. Oncologists recommend treatments known to be effective or potentially effective, and they are the best people to evaluate other recommendations you may have received to determine whether they have any merit or whether they will simply be a waste of your time and money.

6. My dog has cancer, but he seems fine. It’s okay to watch and wait, right?

Not usually. For less aggressive or benign tumors, a watch and wait approach may be okay, but it’s a gamble. But for the VAST majority of tumors, it’s the wrong way to proceed. As a tumor grows or spreads, treatment becomes exceedingly more expensive, complicated, and ineffective. The patient becomes sicker, which means side effects are also more likely as well. The best chance an owner has of ensuring his or her pet’s long term survival is to diagnose early and treat quickly and thoroughly.

7. A needle aspirate or biopsy diagnosis is not important prior to surgery, since the tumor is getting removed anyway, right?

Wrong. A diagnosis will help to plan the surgical approach needed to successfully remove a tumor. Different tumors behave differently, and it’s best to understand the tumor’s nature before removal, particularly for larger tumors or those in difficult spots. Biopsy is also performed after removal to further confirm the diagnosis and receive a piece of tissue for tumor grade.

8. Why do you need to biopsy after surgery if you already know or suspect the diagnosis?

The biopsy reveals some of the most useful information about a tumor. It shows whether the margins are clean. It shows the grade of the tumor. Some say if it’s worth removing, it’s worth a biopsy, and we believe this to be true. It’s one of the most important pieces of information we have about a particular tumor.

9. My dog will go bald.

It depends on the breed and the treatment. Even in the worst case, it usually occurs only partially. This can occur in non-shedding breeds, such as the Bichon Frise, the Old English Sheepdog, and the Poodle. Hair loss is non-painful and purely cosmetic. It will also grow back after treatment.

10. My pet is too old for treatment.

Age is not a disease. Most pet cancer patients are older, and statistics provided to the owner generally refer to the effectiveness and tolerability of treatment in older patients. More important than age is whether a patient is systemically healthy.

11. Traditional chemotherapy will make my pet sick, and my pet will suffer and have a miserable life if I opt for treatment.

Please remember that our goal is your goal – to give your pet a great quality of life for as long as we possibly can and to prevent distress and suffering. We don’t like it when our patients are sick either! In a quality of life survey performed at the University of Pennsylvania, owners rated their pet’s quality of life while on chemotherapy as an average of 8.9 out of 10, with 1 being the worst and 10 being the best possible quality of life. Thus, we treat much differently in veterinary medicine than they do in human medicine. We use many of the same drugs that are used in human oncology, but we use them at much lower doses and do not give as many at the same time to reduce risks of side effects. In veterinary cancer treatment, less than 1/4 experience adverse side effects, and less than 5% suffer effects serious enough to require hospitalization. If hospitalization is required, the patient usually improves in 24-72 hours. The likelihood of a chemotherapy-associated fatality is less than 1 in 200. If toxicity occurs, we substitute drugs, lower doses, or add in medications to prevent illness from happening again.

For more information on pet cancer, visit The Cancer Center at CARES at http://www.vetcares.com/oncology/cancerCenter.php. There you can learn about caring for a pet with cancer, read our cancer dictionary, find out all of the treatment options available, read patient tales of pets who have undergone cancer treatment at CARES, and more.

About The Center for Animal Referral & Emergency Services (CARES)

CARES is a full service, specialty referral, 24-hour emergency and critical care veterinary hospital with one clear goal: to provide a gold standard of care for your pet. The highly trained and compassionate team of veterinarians at CARES collaborate between specialties as well as with referring veterinarians to optimize the care of your pet. CARES ensures the latest, most advanced and best treatments available. Specialty and referral services include: Anesthesiology, The Cancer Center at CARES, Cardiology, Clinical Pathology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Radiology and Surgery. Specialty cases are seen by referral from your primary care veterinarian. CARES also offers 24-hour emergency care. For more information, visit www.vetcares.com. You can also find CARES on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CARESvet.

Henry “the Peanut” Basset Hound Passes to Rainbow Bridge: Cancer Takes Yet Another Dog…

Posted on February 17th, 2012

Yesterday our family’s beloved Basset Hound Henry, who just successfully finished the Eukanuba Challenge, had to cross the Rainbow Bridge – he had a huge tumor behind his liver – the size of a golf ball – that was cancerous and inoperable. He would not have made it long.

My sister Ashes (my personal sisters-only nickname for her), Henry’s forever Mu-ther (our family ‘animal word’ for mom), made the world’s hardest decision (or one of them) to put The Peanut down so he would not suffer any pain or discomfort. (He had already been throwing up blood that morning.)

* Ashes, like me with Theodore, had barely been over the passing of Tucky the Pittie mix three years ago. *

** Keep in mind this is at 7 am the morning after our mother had SERIOUS Rotator Cuff surgery; Mom was in the worst condition we both had EVER seen her in in our ENTIRE lives – we were already hysterical at one hospital Wednesday and practically inconsolable. (No one should have to see their mother cry or in that kind of pain.)

Henry in His Fave Chair - Graphic Courtesy Zoolatry

Anyhow, Ashes slept at our house with my Mom Weds night so my Dad could get some rest – she was up all night taking care of her, rubbing her feet, putting lip balm on her, getting her throat lozenges, moisturizing her face, getting water, and everything else you can think of that someone needs in the immediate PAIN after a surgery that serious. She’s naturally caring and giving like that – always worried about everyone else…

◊ Ashes returned home at 7 am Thursday am to find Henry in horrible condition – barely able to move. I had JUST SEEN HIM Wednesday myself while we were waiting for Mom to get into recovery — I chocked his slowness, labored breathing and odd behavior up to typical stubborn Peanut/Basset behavior and/or old age/tiredness/laziness – imagine the uselessness (and mis-education – yes that’s a word) I feel right now (but this is not about me).

Ashes is in horrible condition. I wish I knew how to help my sister. I cannot explain how awful it feels to not be able to do something.

She came over with Franklin, the rescue Basset she saved from Ohio Basset Rescue (thanks to Amy B., who saved him from a puppy mill in Ohio’s Amish Country – the WORST offender), all day yesterday and “Mr. Frank N Beans” wouldn’t leave her side.

He knew something was wrong…. like all animals do when something of this magnitude happens.

Peanut was one of the first animals I wrote about when I started ThoughtsFurPaws — I nicknamed him “Henry the Horrible” because he was comically stubborn, slow, LOUD and obstinate – similar to Marley, the proclaimed World’s Worst Dog!

You could not train it out of him – neither Cesar Milan nor Victoria Stilwell (spelling?) could have…  ! And we loved him for it :)

Henry inspired me beyond words, and I have many a poem and short story about him that I will slowly share in a series over the next couple months.

♥ ♥ Henry:

Your family will love and cherish you and our blessed memories of your “hilarities” forever. We will always think of you when we see a Hound of any type. You adopted your Mother as much as she adopted you and you will never know how much you gave to her — or how much you enriched all of our lives. I feel at ease knowing you were greeted at the Bridge by your older brother – Ashly’s Tux – plus our family’s Nickodemus and Gibson and my Theodore. all of whom have passed from cancer.

We also know that all of our pet friends in the blogosphere who have lost a beloved animal to cancer OR ANYTHING are greeting you, sniffing around, letting you follow your nose as you always did, romping and playing, doing your famous squawk, and jumping around like you are 1-year-old again, probably stepping on your own ears like you did on your first few walks (remember — Ashes carried you halfway through Long Beach because you got tired and kept stepping on your ears!)

Henry our “Perpendicular Peanut,” our Rebellious Basset, our first family Hound who started a forever tradition

♥ ♥ we will forever miss you and can’t wait to see you again ♥ ♥

Ash, my sister in blood and water, love and friendship, and in every other way possible:

I LOVE YOU ALWAYS AND FOREVER, AND WILL DO ANYTHING –

- I WILL MOVE THE HEAVENS, GO TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH, OR REACH UP AND GRAB THE MOON AND STARS -

“You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down”

TO HELP YOU THROUGH THIS HARDEST OF TIMES IN YOUR LIFE

Pillars of Strength, A Special Day for K — and Dogs/Cats Who Battle or Lost a Battle w/ Cancer

Posted on February 14th, 2012

Living in the Front Range of Colorado is a special thing. I know: I did it from 1997-2001 in Fort Collins and from 2004-2005 in Denver.

In this very special area of the country is a very special family. And K is their very special animal. His people are beautiful people.

If you don’t know of K’s blog, Romping and Rolling in the Rockies, K is a faithful canine companion on all of her owner’s adventures.

Unfortunately, today K is now facing some extremely challenging health issues… her next round of chemotherapy is this Friday, February 17. 

K belongs to KB, a blogger who does amazing work chronicling her life in the Rocky Mountains. KB posts videos and pictures of mountain lions, bobcats, elk, my personal fave – the Canadian Lynx (which I worked tirelessly to re-introduce to the area when I lived there with NRDC), and other Rocky Mountain wildlife, plus some of the most amazing mountain views we’ve ever seen. If you have never found her blog, we strongly recommend going to visit it.

Any animal lover who has faced cancer or a similar situation knows what a difficult time it is. It’s a time you can’t even put into words really…

So a group of us bloggers have “conspired” (not my words but those of one of my fave pet bloggers who is ALWAYS helping others…) to be “KB’s Pillars of Strength” — as her family goes through this tough time.

We hope you all – whether readers, writers, media or fellow blogger can join us in a BlogHop there.

Do any of you have any experience with how awful cancer is?

Have you had experience with a successful recovery in a pet (or person)? What about your dog?

Please join us in offering prayers or tell us what your fave part of KB’s blog is. Please offer some pleasant form of prayer or wish or banter – or another pillar of strength — to offer strength to KB – thus the name of our trek and the KB Pillars of Strength BlogHop.