The Dog Cancer survival guide

by Dr. Demian Dressler, DVM with Dr. Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip, ACVIM

I wished I had read this guide many years ago; certainly before my springer spaniel, Cassie, developed a brain tumor. I could have used this guide three years earlier when she developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a blood cancer.

But when I really, REALLY needed this book was back in 2001, when my springer, Kaylee, developed osteosarcoma. Information in this book would have helped Kaylee so much. I was willing, and did, try everything I knew at that time. I did not use chemotherapy, since the prognosis was only an additional 2 – 4 months of life. The Dog Cancer survival guideMy husband and I decided it was not worth putting her through day long chemo treatments and the expense for only an added life expectancy of a few months. Without chemo, Kaylee surprised everyone by surviving for two years, but suffered from paralysis during the last one. This book would have helped both of us so much.

Back then, when I debated about chemotherapy, I found a discussion forum that listed the sad stories of many, whose dogs survived only a few months, maybe six or eight at most with surgery and chemotherapy. One dog survived two years—a ray of hope in a sea of sadness.

The Dog Cancer survival guide is that ray of hope.

Before I read The Dog Cancer survival guide, I went strictly by my veterinarian’s advice, which you should still do. Often that advice involved surgery and chemo. I knew of supplements, but my vet did not make any recommendations. After the dog received a diagnosis of cancer, I assumed it was too late. But it may not be too late. Some supplements or changes in diet can support the treatments given by your vet, some may make your dog feel better, and some may help reduce the cancer by depriving it of some of the food it needs.

The Dog Cancer survival guide is broken down into several parts and teaches you everything you could imagine about cancer in an easy to understand format.

Part I: My Dog Has Cancer—Now What?

A year before I read this book, I titled the homepage of my Canine Cancer Concerns website with this same question. Because that’s how you feel, overwhelmed, confused, and scared. This book addresses your fear and teaches you how to become an advocate for your dog’s health. I’ve never read anything like this before. Learning to manage your emotions is essential for you and for your dog.

Part II: What You Should Know About Dog Cancer

This section gets more technical and explains many terms, but it also explains how cancer starts and how it spreads. I learned a lot from these chapters. I always thought that cancer was something that you unfortunately got—that you didn’t have too much control over. But to some extent you do. Cancer cells are occurring all the time in our bodies, but it’s a failure of the immune system that allows cancer to grow.

“One study shows that 85% of human cancers are a direct result of diet and lifestyle choices, and that roughly 30% of cancers can be avoided by improving diet alone.”

Topics in this section include much debated timing of spaying / neutering, use of vaccines, carcinogens in commercial dog foods, and even contaminants in drinking water.

Part III: Full Spectrum Cancer Care

The Full Spectrum plan discusses conventional treatments, nutraceuticals, immune system boosters, diet, and stress relief for you and your dog.

Nutraceuticals are concentrated forms of an active agent that occurs naturally. They are not as strong as a drug, but more effective than a supplement. One of the nutraceuticals was Apocaps, formulated by the author of this book.

Part IV: Making Confident Choices

Confident choices involve pain management, keeping a journal of your dog’s treatments and responses, and out -of-the-box ideas for financing your dog’s cancer treatments.

Questions covered include:

  • Is this treatment really worth it? I often ask myself these same questions when dealing with expensive treatments or testing.
  • Am I doing this for me, or my dog? I recently had to euthanize my cocker spaniel, Chipper. I could see he was getting weaker although at times he seemed better. So I vacillated back and forth. I think he was ready a week or two before I was. Sometimes he would venture into the cold backyard in the middle of the night and just lay there – like he was ready. I said I was concerned how my other cocker would react, until I realized she wanted him gone since she often growled at him during Chipper’s last week.

One section dealt with recognizing pain. Dogs do so well at hiding it, that often we don’t see it. Also, recognizing when your dog is no longer experiencing joy and when it is time for euthanasia.

Part V: From the Oncologist

Dr. Ettinger provides details about lymphoma, mast cell tumors, osteosarcoma, oral cancer, nasal tumors, soft tissue sarcomas, brain tumors, perianal and anal sac tumors, and melanoma.

The Dog Cancer survival guide is very helpful in providing background information, treatments, supplements and diets even if your dog’s type of cancer is not discussed in depth.

I rate this book a 5 out of 5 stars and a must to have on your shelf. You just never know when the vet is going to utter those dreaded words, “Your dog has cancer.”

This post represents my own opinion and was not sponsored in any form.

9 thoughts on “The Dog Cancer survival guide

  1. I am going to bookmark this in case I need it. Heck, I may buy it now and just have the knowledge for perhaps, or if anyone I know needs the info! When it comes to pet health I can never know too much! Thank you for this. I have lost a cat to cancer and it was the worst experience ever for my cat and myself.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your cat. Yes, I think it is a great book to have as a reference. You just never know when you may need it. For instance, Chipper, my cocker spaniel who passed away recently, went to his senior checkup and the vet found his spleen was very enlarged. It may have been cancer, but he became anemic and grew too weak to consider any treatment options within a few weeks. He also was pretty old. But you just never know when cancer comes knocking on your door. I think it’s best to be prepared. Also this book gives you options on how to try to prevent cancer.

    • Yes, I really appreciated how both authors worked together to discuss many different treatment options. So often we feel that we should just go with what our vet recommends. I feel this book gives you the power to question the vet and to seek alternative solutions.

  2. I can relate to your feelings about Cassie. My Schatzi died last year from brain cancer. I know some pet owners are able to go to extra lengths for a few extra months with their pets. There are so many unknowns. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

  3. I don’t think people realize how common canine cancer really is. I would venture a guess that 70% of older dogs that we see in shelters have some form or another. I am bookmarking and recommending this to every owner I know with a dog suffering from cancer

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