What to expect if your pet is diagnosed with cancer.

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
July 17, 2023

Pets bring immense joy and companionship to our lives. They become part of our families and provide us with unconditional love. However, just like humans, pets can also face health challenges, and one of the most concerning diagnoses is cancer. The moment you receive the news that your beloved furry friend has been diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming and heartbreaking.

In this article, we will guide you through what to expect if your pet is diagnosed with cancer, addressing various aspects of treatment, emotional support, and the road ahead.

Understanding the cancer diagnosis.

Receiving the news of your pet's cancer diagnosis can be devastating. It is important to seek clarity from your veterinarian regarding the type of cancer, its stage, and the prognosis. Understanding the diagnosis will help you make informed decisions about the treatment options and potential outcomes.

Treatment options.

Just like humans, pets have various treatment options available for cancer, including surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies. Your veterinarian will discuss the best course of action based on the type of cancer, its stage, your pet's overall health, and your preferences. In some cases, there may be no treatment options, and euthanasia would be the most humane option for them.

The role of veterinary oncologists.

Veterinary oncologists are specialised veterinarians who focus on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in animals. They play a crucial role in developing personalised treatment plans and guiding you through the entire process. Working closely with a veterinary oncologist ensures that your pet receives the best possible care.

Side effects and management.

During cancer treatment, your pet may experience side effects such as nausea, fatigue, hair loss, and appetite changes. Your veterinarian will discuss these potential side effects with you and provide strategies to manage them effectively. Monitoring your pet's wellbeing and communicating any concerns to your veterinarian is essential for their comfort.

Emotional support for you and your pet.

A cancer diagnosis can be emotionally challenging for both you and your pet. It is essential to seek emotional support to cope with the stress, fear, and uncertainty that comes with the diagnosis. Consider joining support groups, seeking counselling, or connecting with other pet owners who have gone through similar experiences. Additionally, providing your pet with extra love, attention, and comfort can help alleviate their anxiety.

Offering your pet extra love and comfort can work wonders in easing their anxiety.

How the cancer diagnosis will affect you and your pet’s daily life.

Consider how such a diagnosis will affect treatment, care and daily routines.

Adjusting daily routines.

Cancer treatment may require adjustments to your pet's daily routines. This can include modifying exercise levels, providing a calm and comfortable environment, and adhering to medication schedules. Maintaining a consistent routine will help reduce stress and provide stability for your pet during this difficult time.

Dietary considerations.

Proper nutrition plays a vital role in supporting your pet's overall health and wellbeing during cancer treatment. Consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to ensure that your pet's diet is tailored to their specific needs. They may recommend a diet that supports the immune system, manages side effects, and maintains their strength and energy levels.

Monitoring and follow-up.

Regular monitoring and follow-up visits are crucial to track your pet's progress during and after cancer treatment. Your veterinarian will schedule follow-up appointments to assess the effectiveness of the treatment, monitor any potential side effects, and adjust the treatment plan if needed. Open communication with your veterinarian is key to ensuring your pet's wellbeing.

Maintaining quality of life.

As a pet owner, your primary concern is your pet's quality of life. Discuss with your veterinarian about balancing the treatment's potential benefits with your pet's comfort. Your veterinarian will work with you to maintain the best possible quality of life for your pet throughout their cancer journey.

Supportive care.

In addition to conventional treatment, there are various supportive care approaches that can enhance your pet's wellbeing. These may include pain management, acupuncture, physical therapy, and complementary therapies. Discuss these options with your veterinarian to determine if they are suitable for your pet's specific needs.

Holistic approaches.

Some pet owners explore holistic approaches to cancer treatment, such as herbal remedies or dietary supplements. While it is important to remain open-minded, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian before implementing any alternative treatments. They can guide you on the potential benefits and risks associated with these approaches.

Promising hope for the future.

While a cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly challenging, it is important to remember that there is always hope. With advancements in veterinary oncology and a supportive network of professionals, there are many success stories of pets overcoming cancer. Keep a positive mindset and provide your pet with the love, care, and support they need throughout their cancer journey.

Making difficult decisions.

In some cases, as the disease progresses, you may face difficult decisions regarding your pet's treatment and quality of life. It is important to have open and honest conversations with your veterinarian about the options available and the potential outcomes. Remember, you are your pet's advocate, and your veterinarian will support you in making the best decisions for their wellbeing.

One such difficult decision would be euthanasia. If there is little veterinarians can do to remove the cancer or reduce pain and suffering, euthanasia may be the most humane option for your pet, before things get worse.

Read: How will I know when it’s time to euthanise my pet?

Final thoughts on what to expect when your pet is diagnosed with cancer.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis for your pet is a difficult and emotional experience. However, by understanding the diagnosis, exploring treatment options, seeking emotional support, and maintaining open communication with your veterinarian, you can navigate this journey with confidence. 

Remember to prioritise your pet's wellbeing above all, provide them with love and comfort, and cherish every moment you have together.

At Goodbye Good Boy, we provide home euthanasia services to support loving owners in providing a peaceful passing for their beloved pets.

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give our team of passionate pet lovers a call on 1800 953 619.