*This is a guest post.
The stress of dealing with ageing or ill loved ones is a traumatic experience for all involved. Depending on the exact condition and the patient’s physical, mental, and financial well-being, varying levels of care may be required for years or even decades. While caregiving for other human patients is a common occurrence and discussion, caring for a pet with illnesses often gets overlooked.
Dogs, in particular, can develop a myriad number of health conditions as they age. Hip and joint problems, vision loss, and mental decline are just a few examples, but cancer is arguably one of the most difficult experiences for pet owners. From stomach cancer to pancreatitis in dogs, a variety of pre-cancerous and terminal conditions may fall under the umbrella of these problems.
Today, we will evaluate how caring for a dog with cancer can be difficult – and how to do so gracefully.
The biggest emotional challenge when dealing with canine cancer is evaluating what logistical and financial options exist. Your veterinarian will likely provide a series of potential choices upon diagnosis, including chemotherapy treatments and palliative care. This can be a difficult decision that is affected by both emotional and financial restrictions.
For those who decide to pursue treatment that reduces or eliminates cancer, it is important to understand that there may be a long road to recovery. Additionally, not all treatments – including the most aggressive – lead to remission or otherwise positive outcomes. However, treating a range of conditions in our four-legged friends – from skin cancer in pups to pancreatitis in dogs of advanced age – now exist.
Through personal consultation, discussions with your vet, and an evaluation of your dog’s overall condition, an appropriate decision about future cancer treatments (or the lack thereof) can be made.
Cancer is a buzzword of sorts in our society: everybody knows about it, has experienced the trials and tribulations of it through people we know, and has a disdain for it. However, cancer is a very broad concept that can impact virtually any part of the body – in both people and dogs alike.
If your furry friend has been diagnosed with one of many forms of canine cancers, then learning about the specifics of it is vital. Some cancers in canines do not present huge challenges to their health if treated quickly and appropriately. Others may be debilitating in their most basic forms, accelerating the damage as they progress. Knowing about the specific type of cancer your dog has been diagnosed with can both prepare you for what will be required and ensure your dog is as comfortable as possible through treatment and/or palliative care.
A cancer diagnosis in your pup can be devastating, but it’s imperative to keep your spirits up and adhere to a regular schedule. For both your health and that of your dog, it’s important to maintain a routine. While a cancer diagnosis can feel like a death sentence, many dogs go on to live healthy and long lives. As such, keeping a routine that incorporates regular feeding, exercise, medicine, vet trips and play time is an important component of care.
Depending on the type of cancer your pup is diagnosed with, major changes in dietary requirements may be necessary. Most veterinarians will recommend steering dogs away from high-carbohydrate diets and onto more nourishing alternatives that encompass natural eating habits in the wild. From mouth cancer to liver cancer, the exact dietary needs and requirements from you individually will vary, but ensuring a balanced, nutritious diet is a must.
Increasingly, raw food diets have become popular with owners who want to maximise nutrition, absorption, and ease of consumption in dogs. Bella & Duke is one prominent example: providing ethical and premium raw dietary solutions for dog owners, these tailored diets feature grain-free formulas that maximise the nutrition any dog needs on a day-to-day basis. Regardless of current health conditions, dogs can benefit from such a diet, minimising the need for select organs to process modern-day additives and maximising caloric and nutritional absorption.
Some health conditions – like pancreatitis – may be early indicators of future cancerous situations. As such, it’s important to know what to do if your dog has pancreatitis or any similar condition that could evolve into cancerous activity in the future.
Ultimately, caring for a dog that’s battling cancer can be stressful and unrelenting, especially if you’re fighting this battle alone, so outside assistance may be necessary. A variety of non-profit charities help dog owners cover various medical bills, while your family members and friends can help chaperone or otherwise provide occasional care to give you some free time when needed.
Emotional support is another important consideration in this context: having somebody to talk to is paramount to maintaining your focus and ensuring the best level of care for your pup. Never be afraid to talk to others about your struggles and share your emotions – especially with other dog owners, empathy and sympathy are often more intertwined than we realise.
Dealing with a canine cancer diagnosis is difficult but navigating the situation can be made easier by understanding the process. Learning about the disease itself, your dog’s options and opening up to others around you can all help mitigate the anxiety and difficulty of the care-taking process. Now that you know, do your best to incorporate these tips into any long-term treatment plan for your dog.