When It Comes to Treating Cancer, the Rule of Thumb Is "The Earlier, The Better"
It is always a difficult task to inform pet owners that their cat or dog has a tumor. It makes it easier if the mass is small since the earlier a tumor is detected, the better the odds that we can remove it completely or administer treatment that can rid the pet of cancer. However, its treatability depends on the type, size, and location of the mass, as well as how early it is detected. This is why if you ever feel a lump or swelling on your furry companion, you may be doing him or her a life-saving favor by scheduling a veterinarian appointment at Bridges Professional Park Animal Hospital in Morehead City.
Step 1: Start Early and Keep it Up
The key to self-detection, so to speak, is to get your pet accustomed to a daily round of petting from day one. In the majority of cases, not only will the animal respond with enthusiasm, she may remind you if you don't keep up your part on any given day. By establishing this habit, you will be familiarizing yourself with the healthy contours of her body so that you can immediately spot an abnormal mass forming. Special areas to concentrate on are the foot, chest, and neck.
Step 2: Pay Attention to the Signs of a Tumor Your Pet May Be Exhibiting
In some cases, your dog or cat will give you clues that something has changed. For example, he may start licking his foot almost obsessively. This can be an indication that a tumor is forming. It also helps to be mindful of everyday things like putting on a collar or harness before a walk. If your dog has a mass on his chest or neck, he may flinch or resist. Don't ignore it.
Step 3: Sit Down with Our Veterinarian and Consider the Treatment Options
When you hear the words cancer, your mind is likely to spin, and your emotions overwhelm you. However, it's important to sit down with our veterinarian, listen to your treatment options, and ask questions. Some of our clients find it helpful to bring a pen and pad of paper, so they can write the information down for review when they're feeling calmer. It can also be helpful to bring a friend who cares, but is not as emotionally invested as you are.
In most cases, we will recommend one of the following:
- Surgery is the path we will take in a case where the tumor is localized and has not metastasized (spread to other areas).
- Chemotherapy is our line of attack if the tumor has metastasized, or if the cancer is a blood cancer like lymphoma or leukemia. This treatment option involves administering toxic drugs to damage or destroy cancer cells. The good news is dogs and cats can better tolerate the side effects than we humans can.
- Radiation Therapy is used if the tumor cannot be entirely removed surgically. It involves using precisely targeted radiation to destroy or shrink tumors. Radiation can also be used prior to surgery in order to shrink the mass to a to reduce the invasiveness of the surgery, or post-surgery to finish the removal process. It can also be used in conjunction with, or instead of chemo.
- Palliative care is an option our veterinarian may discuss if she determines that the cancer will not respond to any of the above types of treatment. This involves prescribing pain management drugs that will make life more comfortable for your pet and improve his quality of life
We're Here for You in Morehead City
Know that you and your beloved pet are not alone in this battle. Many other pet guardians are waging the same war. But remember — you have an advantage! You have our veterinarian and the entire Bridges Professional Park Animal Hospital staff as your allies every step of the way. Give us a call at 252-247-5595 to learn more.