When you’re standing in an exam room, holding your dog or cat and waiting for a diagnosis, the last thing you want to hear your veterinarian say is “cancer.” It brings to mind a rush of complex, confusing emotions. Maybe you are reminded of your own experiences, or a friend or a relative who dealt with cancer. You feel powerless to help your pet, almost like you’re under attack. You have a whole list of new decisions to make about treatment, finances, and caretaking. A minute ago, you were thinking of your pet as healthy and happy; now you are afraid that he/she will suffer, lose mobility, or even that you could lose him/her. In an instant, one word has changed your whole world.
All of these feelings, confusing and conflicting as they might be, are completely normal. Cancer can be a complex, frightening disease that brings on a lot of very emotional reactions. But once your initial fear starts to fade, you’ll learn that there are many available, effective treatments. Though all cancers are different, generally speaking, cancer is a very treatable disease in pets. In fact, it is probably the most curable of all the chronic diseases pets get. When cancer is caught early enough, there are a lot of options! We have all kinds of advanced treatments to treat your furry family member, with new therapies being developed all the time. There is plenty of reason to hope that you and your pet will have many more happy years together. As scary as it seems at first, you can make it through your pet’s bout with cancer. If you get informed, work together with your pet’s healthcare team, and take good care of yourself and your pet, dealing with cancer doesn’t have to be a frightening process.
NTVS Approach to Cancer
Alternative Options for Pets
In our opinion, based on our clinical experience, the best way to treat pets with cancer is through a combination of traditional and alternative medicine. Why? Because using alternative medicine allows for a multi-faceted approach to cancer that cannot be achieved by using Western Medicine alone!! For example, we commonly use food therapy and culinary herbals in our approach to cancer therapy! It is well documented in the Western scientific literature that culinary herbals and foods such as curcumin and certain mushroom species have anti-cancer properties. We use these approaches to get better results!!
Cancer Treatments: Traditional Medicine
Surgery– Surgery can totally remove cancer or make it smaller so that chemotherapy and radiation are more effective. Risks include anesthesia, bleeding problems, and postoperative pain. Cures are possible with certain cancers and early intervention.
Chemotherapy‑Chemotherapy uses drugs to try to kill the cancer cells with the least amount of damage to normal cells. Side effects can include nausea, lowered immunity, and bleeding problems. Dogs don’t usually experience major hair loss and not all cancers in dogs are susceptible to chemotherapy. In some cases, the veterinarian may use a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs in order to destroy all of the cancer cells. Frequently, two or more drugs together will work better than one drug alone.
Radiation ‑ Radiation uses specially calibrated X-rays to damage cancer tissues with the least amount of damage possible to normal tissues. Side effects include tissue sloughing, lowered immunity, and damage to normal tissue. Anesthesia is required. This treatment is only available at veterinary referral centers. Not all cancers are susceptible to radiation and the location of cancer may make this impossible.
Cryotherapy ‑ Cryotherapy uses probes to freeze cancerous tissues. The goal is to destroy cancer with the least damage to surrounding normal tissues. Not all cancers are susceptible to cryotherapy, and the location of cancer may make this therapy impossible.