My Dog Has Cancer. What Should I Know About It?
Sometimes changes can be so subtle that you completely overlook them. Chances are you did notice that you dog seemed a little listless and was not as frisky or energetic. Chalk it up to not feeling well. Then you noticed he/she no longer felt like eating, and was losing weight. All of sudden you put these together, and the alarm bells go off. You rush him/her to the vet. They do a blood workup, take a few x-rays while you sit and wait. Finally, you are called back into the exam room with your faithful companion for the results. Your dog has cancer.
Once you get the diagnosis, the pressure to know what is the best course of action for your dog is intense and unrelenting. Much like the human equivalent of the disease, cancer in dogs is an all too common problem. There are so many types, treatments, grades, stages, and protocols to learn about.
The medical term for cancer is ‘neoplasia’. Neo means ‘new’, plasia means growth. Combining them you get ‘new growth’. The two forms of cancer are Benign and Malignant. Malignant tumors are the biggest worry, as they invade, destroy, and spread through the lymphatic and circulatory systems.
Benign tumors grow in one area and do not invade or spread into other parts of the body. Benign tumors are also easy to remove because they have formed edges like an egg where malignant tumors can look more like an octopus with long tentacles. For an accurate diagnosis of whether a tumor is benign or malignant, your veterinarian or, preferably, a pathologist must examine a sample under a microscope.
Approximately half of all dog cancer is skin tumors; sixty percent is benign. The next most common form of cancer in dogs is mammary tumors, with half diagnosed as benign. Only ten percent of tumors in dogs are in the digestive system, ten percent in the lymphatic system, five percent in the reproductive system and the remaining five percent are a variety of types.
Some breeds are more prone to specific types of cancer than others. Giant breed dogs are more likely to develop bone cancer. Large breeds such as the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Standard Poodle and Giant Schnauzers are prone to develop malignant spleen tumors.
Dog Cancer Terminology: The basic terminology veterinarians use to describe cancer can be as confusing as how best to treat it. Terms like Stage, Grade, and Metastasis are daunting to an already scared layperson, but are simply basic descriptions.
There are three primary terms used when describing cancer in dogs- Stage, Grade, and Metastasis. Stage is used to notate how far along the tumor is. You may recall your vet saying the tumor is in the ‘early’ stages. The earlier the better! Early, or late, the cancer need not be confined to one area of the body; there could be multiple sites!Vets use ‘Grade’ to describe the cancer’s tendencys, like how aggressive it is on a scale of 1-4 (4 being the worst prognosis, and how quickly it will spread. METASTASIS describes the spread of a cancer i.e. King’s liver cancer has metastasized to his lungs.
Wow! I can’t imagine how heartwrenching it would be if I had to choose between expensive cancer treatments for my dog, versus putting him down. Fortunately, today you can opt for an all-natural dog cancer program. If you go that route, you should do so under the guidance of a holistically minded vet.
Approaching cancer treatment naturally is often the most humane protocol for pets. If you have not already done it, clear away all possible carcinogenic materials from your pets area such as household cleaners, pesticides, insecticides, and other toxic substances. Use only metal or ceramic food dishes and serve only clean, filtered water.
One of your choices is to consult with a veterianarian who specializes in the holistic approach. They view your dog as a whole living, breathing organism. They feel that any illness, including cancer, develops only after your dog’s immune system breaks down. Their first goal is to nourish your dogs immune system back to health, while monitoring the disease. They use human grade supplements; vital pet lipids, soil-based probiotics, super pet enzymes, and lithothamneum (sea minerals) to restore immune vitality. These supplements work to replace the cells and tissue that the cancer is consuming. What dog food chocies you make are under a microscope, now, more than ever! Most so called ‘natural dog food leaves a lot to be desired. Research natural dog foods on the web so you can make an informed decision. Without proper nutrition and supplementation, the cancer will rob your dog’s body of these substances leading to muscle wasting, weight loss, and, eventually, kidney and liver failure.
Literally 80% of your dogs total immune system is located in their intestinal system! The other 20% relies heavily on the digestive system being in balance to provide its’ nutritional requirements. You can spend a fortune feeding your dog high-quality organic meats and vegetables, but if his body is not capable of absorbing the nutrients, all that good food is wasted. Literally! The right compliment of supplements not only helps to overcome cancer, they provide your dog with precisely what he/she needs to live the longest, healthiest, and happiest life possible. Isn’t that what dog ownership is about? Soil-based probiotics support a healthy intestinal flora, allowing the full impact of those nutrients to be digested and used to help fight the invading cancer.
This is a good time to make an appointment with a dog nutritionist. Most holistically trained vets are well versed in nutrition. Antioxidants, soil-based probiotics, vital pet lipids, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, selenium, and zinc all help strengthen and support your dogs immune system.
Sunshine, exercise, and love are all vital to your dogs fight with cancer. Even if he/she is feeling sluggish, take them to a dog park. Encourage your dog to chase a ball or go for a walk. Dogs get depressed, just as we do. We all know how much a little exercise can help release natural endorphins and elevate our mood.
Cancer is treatable and researching the many choices your dog has available to them will help you to feel informed and educated about choosing the right path for your beloved pet. Whether it is a few weeks, a few months or, hopefully, a few years, make the time special, treat him with kindness and patience and always keep his comfort and happiness at the forefront of your mind throughout your days together.