Canine Cancer

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During our long history at Holiday Barn Pet Resorts, we have seen many of our beloved guests stricken with cancer, some at a very young age. It is so disheartening. Years ago, we would hear of the prognosis and then never see the dog again, as his parents often pulled him out of camp or boarding. These days, our guests continue to come to see us. Although they may miss a day of two of camp for treatment, they look great, they have good energy, maintain their weight and still have a wonderful quality of life.

That’s really good news, isn’t it? The bad news is that canine cancer is still on the rise. In fact, cancer is the number one disease related killer of dogs. Stats affirm that 1 in 3 dogs will be affected by cancer in their lives. According to Emily Clanton, Programming Manager for FETCH a Cure, “In Virginia, there are three million dogs with loving owners. Half will develop cancer; a quarter will have tumors.” What is going on?

What causes canine cancer?

Why so many dogs are getting cancer is a difficult question to answer. More than likely the answer is a combination of influences, both internal and external. Some say the cause is outdoor chemical pollutants…. pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers. Indoor pollutants are also to blame… like household cleaning chemicals, and second-hand smoke. Holistic veterinarians theorize that our modern medicines are contributing to an upswing in cancer. Believe it or not, I have read that “stress” is a factor in canine cancer. Not the kind of stress we feel by being overworked or short on time, but physical stress from selective breeding, underlying health issues, or early life handling and weaning. I personally believe it has much to do with nutrition and lifestyle. And of course, age and genetics most certainly play a role.

What types of cancer might my dog be afflicted with?

Dogs develop many of the same types of cancer we do. Lymphoma, Mast cell tumors (Skin cancer), Prostate, Breast, and Osteosarcoma (Bone) are a few of the most common types of cancer in dogs. It was not that long ago that if your dog was diagnosed with cancer, there was little hope for successful treatment. The first reported use of chemotherapy in a veterinary cancer patient was in 1946, not surprisingly, it was a dog with Lymphoma. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the veterinary community really began concentrating its efforts into treating canine cancers. Since that time, advances in veterinary care have rendered many cancers treatable, even cured, while maintaining the dog’s quality of life.

What can we do to help?

The rise in canine cancer has prompted the development of several research organizations across the United States dedicated specifically to canine cancer. We are fortunate to have an organization in our area devoted to raising awareness and battling pet cancer. FETCH a Cure is a non-profit created to help pet owners become better educated with the detection and treatment options associated with cancer and even offers financial assistance for qualified families to help offset the cost of these lifesaving/extending procedures. Their website, www.fetchacure.org contains a wealth of information and resources for those wishing to understand more about this disease and treatment options.

There is nothing more devastating to a dog owner than to hear that he/she has cancer. It feels like a death sentence, but there is hope. FETCH a Cure’s Emily Clanton continues, “Just like in humans, this disease takes many forms and early detection is the key. There are various forms of treatment such as chemo, surgery, and Richmond is fortunate, through the efforts of FETCH a Cure, to have a state-of-the-art facility complete with CT Scans and a stereotactic linear accelerator, which is a human grade radiation device with precise application that does not affect nearby tissue.”

If you learn that your beloved dog has cancer, don’t let it defeat you. Instead of giving into sorrow, allow it to spur you forward. Learn all you can about conventional treatment options, supportive forms of treatment like herb therapy or massage, nutritional changes to improve your dog’s condition. Ask questions, see specialists, talk with others whose dog has had cancer. Learn how to recognize if your dog is in-pain and what you can do to make him comfortable. Start your journey by contacting FETCH a Cure at (804) 525-2193. We wish you and your four-legged friend the very best of luck, and a long and healthy future.

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