My Pet Has Cancer, Now What?

Last week, our oncologist presented a lecture to community members, veterinary students and other interested attendees at the South Florida Veterinary Foundation Lecture Series, held at the University of Miami.  Her informative and engaging presentation covered a variety of issues surrounding pets and cancer. She provided the following advice.

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer:

  • Don’t panic, it’s not a death sentence
  • Research – there are great books and websites out there
  • Talk to someone else who has gone through it with their pet
  • Consult an oncologist, even if it’s just once, to learn about your options

Signs to look out for in cancer detection can include:

  • Lumps, swelling
  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss without dieting
  • Bleeding from any orifice, such as nose, ears, mouth

The best screening is to take your pet to the vet regularly – once a year for younger pets and every 6 months for older pets.

The three main types of cancer that typically occur in animals are found in the glands, support structures and fluid tumors.  The main treatment options include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy and because veterinary oncology is palliative, quality of life comes first.

Animals handle chemotherapy much better than humans – they typically don’t lose their hair and rarely have side effects such as getting sick. Lymphoma in dogs, for example, has a 90% response rate to chemo.

Dr. Oberthaler also shared with the audience why she loves being a veterinary oncologist:

  • Because the animals have to come in frequently for multiple treatments, she is able to develop a relationship with the pet and the family, which is very important to her.
  • Cancer is very treatable in dogs, so it’s a very satisfying disease to treat.
  • Her patients don’t have to end up in the hospital; they’re typically very happy and feeling great.
  • She loves working with older pets, and many cancer patients are older

If you do see any of these symptoms in your pets, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at (305) 665-2820 to schedule an appointment with our oncologist.

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