As your dog ages, his risk of developing cancer increases. Approximately 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 will contract cancer, and this terrible disease is the leading cause of death for dogs in this age category. Symptoms of canine cancer include the presence of lumps or bumps, a wound or sore that doesn’t heal, swollen lymph nodes and abnormal bleeding. If your dog appears listless or lacks his usual energy, it could be an early warning sign of cancer or another serious illness.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Cancer?
The good news is that advancements in veterinary science have produced innovative treatment options for dogs with cancer in recent years. As with cancer in humans, the earlier the disease is diagnosed, the better the chances that a treatment method will be effective. About one half of canine cancers can be cured if detected and treated in the early stages. If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms of cancer, it’s imperative to have him examined by a vet as soon as possible.
What Are the Treatment Options?
The cancer treatment option your vet recommends will depend on factors such as the age of your dog and the type, location and severity of the disease. Canine cancer can be treated through a surgical procedure, such as the removal of a cancerous tumor. There are also veterinary facilities across the U.S. that can provide radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is becoming a widespread cancer treatment practice. There is now an FDA-approved drug that is specifically intended for treating dogs with certain types of cancer.
Providing Home Care for Your Dog
You’ll likely need to support veterinary cancer treatment with home care for your dog. You may need to administer medications for pain relief or as part of an ongoing treatment regimen to control the spread of the disease. You may also need to place your pet on a special diet to ensure he receives sufficient nourishment.
Talk to your vet about developing a customized diet and nutritional program, including the possible use of nutritional supplements. A loss of appetite is a side effect of many types of canine cancer treatments, so your vet may recommend giving your dog an appetite stimulant to prevent malnutrition.
How to Care for a Terminally Ill Dog
If the chosen cancer treatment methods are not working, or if it is determined that your dog’s cancer is incurable, you can still provide care at home. Your focus should be on keeping him comfortable so he can experience the highest possible quality of life during his remaining days. Pain control is a primary concern at this stage, so ask your vet about any appropriate pain medications.
You may also need to relocate his bed, food and water dishes to make them easier to reach. Most of all, you’ll want to spend as much time as you can with him and give him lots of love and attention.