Keep Calm and Carry On: Treating and Living with Pet Cancer
Hearing that your pet has cancer is a pet parent’s worst nightmare, and one that becomes increasingly more likely as a pet ages. Pets, especially dogs, get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, and over half of pets above the age of 10 will receive a cancer diagnosis at some point.
The first question on many pet owners’ minds after finding out their pet has cancer is “What do I do?”. Veterinary medicine has come a long way in recent years, and the options for treating and managing pet cancer have greatly improved, giving many pets a good prognosis.
The First Step
As scary and upsetting as a pet cancer diagnosis is, the best thing you can do for your pet (and yourself!) is to remain calm. Pets can sense our emotions, and your fear and anxiety can be very troubling for them. Take a few deep breaths, go for a quick walk around the block, or anything else that will help you to relax, so that you can be the best possible advocate for your sweet pet.
Do Your Research
When it comes to the health of your pet, you must be as proactive as possible. Your veterinarian will discuss all of the testing and treatment options available to your pet, and can answer any questions you have, as well as refer you to a specialist if necessary. Planning ahead and choosing the best course of action for your beloved companion is key to a successful outcome.
Follow the Plan
Treatment protocols for pet cancer can vary widely depending on the type of cancer and method of treatment. Cancer treatment may require regular trips to the veterinarian weekly or monthly, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes. Some cancer treatments are short lived, others may require a lifelong commitment. Sticking to the plan that you and your veterinarian have come up with is your pet’s best chance at a long and happy life.
Maintain the Routine
Maintaining your pet’s comforting daily routine, as much as you are able, is especially important during this tumultuous time. Strive to keep mealtimes, playtime, and daily exercise (in accordance with your pet’s abilities) as close to normal as possible, to help your pet continue to enjoy life and stay at their healthiest.
Rally the Troops
Caring for a sick pet, which often includes managing an ongoing treatment schedule, can be a serious stressor for an individual or family. Don’t be afraid to reach out to family, friends, and neighbors to help you shoulder the burden by running an errand, helping to transport a pet, watching the kids while you go to the vet, or simply by being a listening ear. Having a support system in place will provide an enormous sense of relief for you, and offers your loved ones a chance to support you during a difficult time.
Keep It Simple
Spending time each day cuddling, talking to, or just being with your pet can go a long way toward keeping you and your pet feeling positive! And, don’t forget to reach out to your friends at Schertz Animal Hospital anytime with your questions or concerns.