Has your dog been diagnosed with cancer and you’re not sure how to help? Firstly, I'm very sorry to hear you are going through this.
In this post I will discuss the different types of treatments available to your dog, including the two main therapies from conventional medicine, chemotherapy and radiation therapy (radiotherapy).
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I will also give you our recommendation for helping your companion in a natural way. We are always happy to share with you our knowledge and years of experience in the field of natural health with the aim of improving the comfort of your pets. And you can also refer to our complete guide to dog cancer for more details on the disease.
Read on to learn more about cancer treatment for dogs.
First, let's see what chemotherapy is.
Chemotherapy in dogs
Chemotherapy is characterized by the use of a potent drug that aims to destroy or damage cancer cells in the dog's body.
How is chemotherapy administered to dogs?
There are several ways to give chemotherapy, either through pills, intravenously, or even directly into the tumor.
The “maximum tolerated dose” of this drug can usually be given once a week or every three weeks, if given intravenously.
The waiting period between doses is necessary to allow healthy cells that have been affected to regenerate before the next dose.
Pills are usually given daily or every other day (making sure to wear gloves), and are intended to stabilize the tumor, that is, prevent its growth and metastasis. I am thinking, for example, of chlorambucil.
Not all vets are comfortable prescribing chemotherapy because it requires special monitoring. Many vets will refer you to an oncology specialist.
Side effects of chemotherapy in dogs
Much like in humans, hair loss is possible, as well as vomiting, diarrhea, and increased susceptibility to infections due to damage to the bone marrow.
Hair loss is possible in dogs whose hair is constantly growing, as chemotherapy affects cells that grow rapidly. Some breeds are therefore more sensitive to this side effect, such as poodles and westies.
Dogs may experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or diarrhea about 1 to 5 days after intravenous chemotherapy. These effects usually last 2 to 3 days. It is therefore beneficial to offer your dog natural products such as probiotics or a medication that acts on nausea and on appetite during this period.
Susceptibility to infections
Finally, I mentioned that your dog can also become more susceptible to infections. The reason is that chemotherapy harms neutrophils, white blood cells that work against bacterial intruders, among other things.
It’s good to note, however, that in veterinary medicine these side effects are less common than in humans. Only about 15-20% of animals are reported to experience the above symptoms during chemotherapy.
The success rate of chemotherapy in dogs
It’s difficult to give a precise indication of how successful chemotherapy is in dogs, since each cancer is unique, and each animal too.
Unlike human medicine, chemotherapy is used for the primary purpose of improving the animal's quality of life, and not necessarily to significantly increase its longevity.
So, if the dog is more comfortable than before, or remains comfortable, the chemotherapy can be considered a success.
How much does chemotherapy cost for dogs?
The cost of chemotherapy in dogs will vary greatly depending on your dog's weight and the method of administration chosen for the type of cancer it has.
The administration of intravenous chemotherapy is more expensive because it is usually supervised by an oncology veterinarian and requires an inpatient fee. We are talking about a few hundred dollars per treatment.
How long do dogs live after chemotherapy?
Again, the answer to this question varies greatly from one dog to another and depends on the type and stage of cancer the animal has. An otherwise healthy young dog could gain months or even years, while an older dog could gain a few weeks to a few months. Your vet will be in a better position to answer this question than I am.
Radiation therapy in dogs
Commonly known as radiotherapy, radiation therapy is another option available to a dog with cancer.
Conventional radiation therapy
How to shrink a tumor in dogs? Radiation therapy in dogs uses radiation in a localized way to shrink a tumor that cannot be operated on, or to destroy cells left over from mass removal surgery.
It can be used in addition to chemotherapy, or alone if the cancer is localized in a radiosensitive area.
It’s useful for nasal tumors and could also help control non-operable oral tumors, for example.
It is also reported that radiation therapy can help relieve pain associated with bone tumors (osteosarcoma).
The side effects of radiation therapy for dogs depend on the area being treated, but may amount to localized hair loss, skin pain and discomfort.
How does radiation therapy work for dogs?
Conventional curative radiation therapy in dogs typically takes 15 to 21 sessions, lasting a period of 3 to 7 weeks. The dog must be anesthetized with each treatment, since it must remain perfectly still.
It is therefore expensive and quite invasive.
The price of radiation therapy varies from clinic to clinic, the type of therapy used and the number of treatments required. For a complete treatment, it is certainly necessary to plan several hundreds of dollars, even a few thousand.
The frequency will vary depending on the cancer and the purpose of therapy. If we only aim to control pain without a curative goal, treatments will be less frequent. This is called palliative radiation therapy.
That said, advances in human medicine have made available a new form of radiation therapy, namely stereotaxic radiotherapy.
It is much more precise than conventional radiotherapy, so it helps to keep surrounding tissue intact.
In addition, it only requires 1 to 3 treatments to be effective, which means much less anesthesia for the sick dog.
A support for cancer in dogs based on natural ingredients
If your dog is battling cancer, we suggest you add the PIPTOPET product to your arsenal.
HomeoAnimal has concocted this natural product with the help of a medicinal mushroom that promotes your dog's health to help in case of dog fighting cancer. It can help your dog's body attacks diseased cells and spares healthy cells.
It can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy and even helps strengthen the immune system.
If this article was relevant to you or your dog is battling cancer right now, please know that I am wholeheartedly with you. Coping with such a serious illness is never easy. We hope that this information has been able to answer some of your questions.
What type of cancer does your dog have? Comment in the section below to start a discussion with people who are going through a similar situation.
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