6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Your Pet Gets the Big Cancer Diagnosis

Vets performing surgery

A cancer diagnosis for a pet can evoke many different feelings: denial, sadness, anger and possibly even guilt.

But in your animal's hour of need, you need to focus in order to make major health care decisions on your pet's behalf. One component of the decision-making process involves asking your veterinarian 10 key questions about the diagnosis and your treatment options.

Another part of the process requires you to ask yourself some tough questions when your pet gets the big cancer diagnosis.

1. Should I Agree to the Tests Being Recommended?

Once a diagnosis of cancer is made, testing to evaluate the extent of the tumor, and its potential for spreading, is usually recommended. If you think that you may want to treat your pet’s cancer, say yes to testing.

But if you already know that treatment isn't a good fit for you and your pet — say, if your pet has other serious medical issues or gets stressed out just by being in the car or a carrier— additional testing isn't necessary. And if you just want to assess how bad the situation is, testing can help your veterinarian speculate as to how much time your pet has left.

2. Is This Treatment Right for Me and My Pet?

Every pet I have the privilege of caring for has special qualities. Unfortunately, not every animal feels the same way about me. If trips to the veterinarian put your pet in a tailspin, an intensive cancer treatment protocol may not be what the doctor should order, so be sure to have a discussion with your vet about this concern.

3. Do I Have Time to Take My Pet for Scheduled Treatments?

The most common tumor that veterinary oncologists treat with chemotherapy is lymphoma. The current standard of care for this cancer calls for 26 weeks of chemotherapy, and during the course of those six months, 16 chemotherapy treatments are administered.

Although this is the best current treatment plan, not every family can squeeze so many extra veterinary visits into their lives. Since protocols are different for every type of cancer, make sure that you understand the anticipated time commitment — and decide whether you can stick to the required schedule.


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