My Dog Has Cancer. Now What?

Sheltie

My Dog has Cancer. Now what?
by Dr. Alison Rhoades, DVM
Midlothian Animal Clinic

Frequently, a cancer diagnosis makes everyone in the family feel helpless. After deciding on a treatment plan, owners often want to know what they can do to help keep their pet comfortable during treatment.

First, let’s talk about nutrition. A nutritious diet will help your pet’s body have the energy it needs to fight cancer. There are prescription diets available designed for cancer patients. They are high in protein to help prevent muscle loss, and supplemented with fatty acids to help reduce chemotherapy side effects. These diets are also designed to be pretty tasty for animals who may have a poor appetite. Many animals are also able to stay on their current food, as long as it is of good quality. If there is a day when your pet’s appetite is not good, sometimes tempting them with chicken and rice or scrambled eggs will get them eating and still be bland enough for a sensitive tummy. There are also medications available to control nausea in cancer patients.

Second, we encourage regular but not strenuous exercise. Many pets are able to continue their current level of exercise, but bear in mind they may tire faster.

Third, they may continue to be around other dogs that you know are vaccinated and not ill. We discourage visits to dog parks and other places where large numbers of dogs congregate since our pet’s immune systems are not as able to fight off infections while they have cancer.

Lastly and most importantly, enjoy them and love them. Some cancers are curable, but many are not. While your pet is being treated hug them a little longer, bring them their favorite treat, let them get on the bed. The time we have with them is precious.

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