Caring for Dogs With Cancer

Caring for dogs with cancer can be a trying time in one's life. The amount of attention and companionship a dog will need will increase as time goes on.

Dog Cancer Symptoms

Cancer can affect a dog's skin, bones, and other major organs. One of the first signs a dog may have cancer is weight loss and lack of energy. Canine cancer can affect a dog's appetite and make it hard for a dog to swallow or eat. One may notice a lump or witness breathing difficulties. A dog with cancer may also develop sores that do not heal, have a difficult time urinating, or have abnormal bowel movements.

Types of Cancers that Affect Dogs and Treatments

Many types of cancers can present themselves in dogs. Lymphoma in dogs is not uncommon and is usually treated with chemotherapy. Various types of cancers are treated with chemotherapy and surgery: mammary tumors, osteosarcomas, hemangiosarcomas, and transitional cell carcinomas. Mast cell tumors, fibrosarcomas, skin tumors, and undifferentiated sarcomas usually involve radiation in the treatment of the cancer. Oral cancers in dogs are usually treated with surgery and involve reconstruction.

Caring for a Dog after Chemotherapy or Radiation Treatments

Looking after dogs when they receive cancer treatments can almost be a full-time job. These treatments can produce a lot of side effects. Nausea and vomiting occur 1 to 3 days after treatment and will not last long. Dogs may also develop diarrhea after cancer treatments. If vomiting or diarrhea in a dog is sever, persistent, contains blood, and makes the canine seem weak, immediately contact your veterinarian.

After treatment, a dog can develop a fever and become septic. Sepsis-becoming septic-is when bacteria enters into the dog's bloodstream. When a dog is septic, he will have a high-grade fever and pale gums, he will not want to exert any energy, he will become very weak and he will not want food.

Cancer Care

No matter what type of treatment one chooses for their dog, there are some basic principles to remember to help their pet be comfortable, hopeful and happy.

Pain management is essential to the quality of life a dog may have. Managing pain can also extend a dog's life. The goal, when it comes to dogs with cancer, is to prevent pain.

Keep a dog that is experiencing nausea or vomiting well hydrated and fed. Medications exist that can control nausea, making it easier for a dog to want to eat. Warming foods up, serving more aromatic foods that taste good to a dog, or feeding a dog in an environment that is less stressful may help him or her want to eat more.

When a dog has cancer, follow your veterinarian's instructions to help ensure proper care and quality of life. A diagnosis of cancer is not an immediate death sentence as a dog can live for up to a year after being diagnosed. In the meantime, show your dog a lot of love and attention so it can be more at peace during these difficult times.