Pet Peeves: Cancer myths

Pet Peeves: Debunking cancer myths

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - May is pet Cancer awareness month. With that in mind we wanted to dispel some of the top myths in pet cancer.

Myth #1: A diagnosis of cancer is a death sentence.

A diagnosis of cancer can be scary and emotional, but patients can survive cancer. At BluePearl, we’ve treated thousands of cancer cases. Each patient’s situation is unique, and treatments have to be tailored to his/her particular type of cancer and stage. Most cancers found in dogs and cats are benign, and when treated with surgery are subsequently cured. Those that cannot be cured with surgery may be responsive to chemotherapy, radiation therapy or immunotherapy.

Myth #2: Chemotherapy treatment will be traumatic for your pet.

Did you know that many pets receiving chemotherapy don’t experience side effects at all? In fact, many patients gain weight while receiving chemotherapy because they feel good enough to take advantage of all of the treats they are offered!

When our oncologists put together a treatment plan for your pet, it is designed to minimize side effects while maximizing quality of life. We often use doses that are lower than those used in human medicine, allowing dogs and cats to maintain an excellent quality of life throughout treatment.

Few pets do experience mild side effects such as decreased appetite, vomiting and diarrhea for a limited amount of time. If your pet is one of the few that experiences this, there are appetite stimulating and anti-vomiting medications such as Cerenia® that can overcome these effects.

Another potential side effect is increased susceptibility to infections. Our oncologists monitor each patient closely to determine his/her sensitivity. Patients that are at risk of infection are treated with antibiotics until their immune system has returned to a safe level and future treatments are adjusted accordingly.

Most dogs and cats do not lose their hair. Exceptions include curly coated breeds such as poodles, bichon frisés, English sheepdogs, and some terriers. Cats may lose their whiskers, but they should grow back after treatment is completed.

Myth #3: Chemotherapy is the only treatment for cancer.

There are multiple treatments for cancer. Depending on the type and stage of cancer and other related factors, our oncologists will recommend the treatment or combination of treatments that will give your pet the best case outcome. Treatments other than chemotherapy include surgery, radiation therapy and immunotherapy.

BluePearl Veterinary Partners is located in Grand Rapids on the Medical Mile just East of Fuller. Click here to visit their website.

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