Tuesday, May. 5th 2020

Cancer in Pets: Warning Signs and Treatment Options


Cancer in Pets

10 Warning Signs of Cancer in Pets

  1. Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
  2. Sores that do not heal
  3. Weight loss
  4. Loss of Appetite
  5. Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  6. Offensive odor
  7. Difficulty eating or swallowing
  8. Hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina
  9. Persistent lameness
  10. Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating

We would add “asymmetry” to the list—any enlargement on one side that is not present on the other, eye abnormalities on only one eye, etc.  Both sides of the body are supposed to be shaped the same in animals. 

Of course, many of the above signs may be due to non-cancer illness.  For example, a diabetic or hyperthyroid pet may lose significant weight.  Dental issues may cause a foul odor to the breath, difficulty eating, and weight loss.  Heart disease may cause loss of stamina.  Kidney disease may cause loss of appetite.  Benign and harmless tumors like lipomas can be alarming when first noticed. But using these warning signs as a reason to bring your pet to the office for a checkup is certainly a good idea!  We can do an examination, blood work to check organ and endocrine function, x-rays to check heart, lungs, or joints, etc. 

So, if we determine your pet has cancer, what are the options?

  1. Referral to an oncologist at Blue Pearl, Kansas State University, or University of Missouri.  Cancer treatment has progressed in animals as well as people.  It is not unusual for specialists to use a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments in pets these days.  Cures ARE possible!  Many pets have increased length and quality of life as a result of these treatments.  The really great thing is they are much less likely to see things like GI distress and hair loss than people are following treatments.  If you can afford these treatments, don’t rule them out!  After diagnosis at our clinic, we always let you know referral is an option.  If you think you’d be interested in this therapy, we suggest looking at pet medical insurance like Trupanion while your pet is still healthy.
  2. Palliative therapy is doing what is necessary for comfort knowing it may not prolong life. For example, removal of a spleen with a tumor even though it has already spread may prevent rupture and hemorrhage from the primary tumor.  Or removal of a skin mass knowing it likely has already metastasized but can prevent messy drainage.  Debulking of a large tumor for comfort may be done as well.  Or this therapy may consist of pain medications, nausea drugs, or steroids.
  3. Hospice Care is keeping the pet hydrated, fed, and as comfortable as possible without really doing anything specifically to treat the tumor. This usually consists of pain medications and may require fluid therapy or nutritional support as well, even sometimes including feeding tubes.
  4. Systemic Support therapy is where our holistic clinic comes in. We can provide nutritional advice and help choose foods that maximize nutrient absorption.  We have supplements of many kinds that can help strengthen the immune system to fight cancer, improve appetite, decrease inflammation, and more.  Chiropractic care helps optimize nervous system function to keep the body working as well as possible. Acupuncture is used cautiously in cancer patients but when needed can contribute to a hospice type of care.  We are also happy to provide a listening ear and help brainstorm ways to increase patient comfort and happiness. 
  5. The final method of cancer treatment is no treatment at all. While it is rarely appropriate to provide NO medications or treatment at all, sometimes that is a valid option as long as the cancer is not causing pain.  If you feel this may be a path you would choose, we are happy to discuss with you whether it is truly appropriate for your pet or if some combination of the above options will improve patient quality of life. 


Other News:

We will be continuing our curbside service through the month of May.  After that, we will re-evaluate the situation and decide what modifications are safe to make while still keeping our staff and clients safe from corona virus infection. 

We may make occasional exceptions for complex cases and euthanasia but may only allow clients in our back room which is accessible directly from the outside.  We will still maintain social distancing and wearing of masks and gloves during all client contact, as well as wiping pets with a safe disinfectant solution before returning them to your vehicle.

Please bear in mind as the weather turns warmer, that you will be asked to wait in your car or outside on the property while we perform your pet’s examinations and treatments.  These visits usually last 10-30 minutes.  Please take appropriate precautions for comfort.  While we would love to provide seating and shade, there doesn’t seem to be a way to do that and still keep people distanced from each other.

Make sure your pet is in a secure carrier or on a leash with a properly fitting collar that won’t pull over their head for transfer into our clinic. 

Don’t forget we still have Seresto collars, Frontline, heartworm prevention, supplements and medications, Pure Bites treats, BugOff Garlic for fleas and ticks (dogs only), Missing Link Plus, and many other products available.  Just give us a call to order and we’ll collect your payment over the phone and run your purchase out when you arrive.  Our online pharmacy is also a great resource, and can be found here: https://wholehealthpetcenter.vetsfirstchoice.com/

Stay healthy!

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Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083

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