Cancer is a diagnosis that no veterinarian wants to give and no pet parent wants to hear. However, as I stated in my book, The Best of Both Worlds, cancer is NOT an immediate death sentence. (You can order your book here.) If you’re waiting on test results to come back, or have received a cancer diagnosis for your pet, or even if you’re watching some scary symptoms that are causing you concern, this post will help.
First things first, what is cancer really?
Cancer is a disease process in which healthy cells stop functioning properly and abnormal cells begin growing at an out of control rate. Normal cells grow, divide and die in an orderly fashion. Cancer cells grow and divide and instead of dying, outlive normal cells and continue to form new abnormal cells. Some cancer cells can travel to other parts of the body beyond where their development originated and again grow and replace the normal tissue. This process called metastasis occurs as the cancer cells travel through the blood stream or lymph vessels of our bodies.
This is what cancer really is… abnormal cells growing at a rate that is out of control. Is it scary? Yes. But, it’s not an automatic death sentence. Meet COCO and learn how she’s living WELL even with cancer.
Next, that symptom or symptoms you’re worrying about may not be cancer. I’m including a list of symptoms or behaviors that COULD point to cancer, so you’re aware and can make an appointment with your veterinarian if you see any of these pop up. HOWEVER — and this is huge — The “warning signs” for canine cancer can also point to many other health issues or concerns that are less complicated to treat. Here are some common signs of cancer in pets
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
- Sores that do not heal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
- Persistent lameness or stiffness
- Hesitance to exercise or loss of stamina
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
Remember, these signs don’t GUARANTEE your dog has cancer. They are just signs that should lead you to make an appointment with your veterinarian. BUT EVEN IF the “worst case scenario” is true, and your own dog has been diagnosed with cancer, you have options. (A detailed article on canine cancer can be found here.)
Let’s look at options.
Western (standard) veterinary medicine offers us the following treatment options when we give a diagnosis of cancer, aimed at treating the cancer itself:
- No treatment;
- Surgical treatment, or removal of the cancer;
- Radiation therapy,
- Chemotherapy; and/or
- a combination of those mentioned above.
Eastern (often referred to alternative or holistic) medicine offers us less invasive, more complimentary methods of treatment, aimed at improving the balance of the body systems:
- Herbal Therapies;
- Tui-Na (medical massage); and
- Food Therapy.
Integrative medicine not only offers your pet more options for better health and less pain, it is aimed at treating the patient as a whole… tonifying and bolstering the body and addressing the cancer while creating ideal balance and health in the body.
If you have a pup with cancer, need a second opinion, or just want to discuss alternative options for your furry friend, contact our office to schedule an appointment. 631-367-7387