Is Cancer Treatment Right for Your Dog or Cat? Consider Their Personality

Golden Retriever and vet
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When she was just 10 years old, my French Bulldog, Sophie Sue, was diagnosed with a tumor in her brainstem. Though we never undertook a biopsy to definitively diagnose its category of cancer, we knew that it was growing… and fast. So I did what any pet owner would do if she had some resources and a pet who’s a good candidate for advanced veterinary health care: I elected to have her treated by the closest facility equipped with a radiation machine.

So you know, radiation, whether it's used in addition to surgery or as the sole therapy, is a mainstay of treatment for most brain tumors in pets. It doesn’t matter whether they’re officially considered malignant or benign. If they originate in such a precarious place, these tumors have to be dealt with if these patients are to survive for more than mere days or weeks. Otherwise, the swelling these growths elicit can be too much for these pets and they succumb typically to neurologic manifestations.

Sophie Sue’s was a classic case. Her exact diagnosis didn’t matter. Getting her treated — and fast — was crucial to her survival.

Will Frequent Visits Take a Toll?

But it wasn’t quite as easy as all that. I first had to make an assessment of her overall state of health and general disposition. Because I found nothing in her constitution lacking (she was in excellent health and kept up her selfsame personality traits, despite her affliction), I elected to have her treated.

But, in the end, before I could pull the trigger (so to speak), I had to face one final issue: Does Sophie Sue have the personality it takes to undergo six weeks of twice-weekly anesthetic procedures and day-long veterinary hospital stays in an alien animal health-care setting?

To be sure, it’s a lot to ask any pet to understand what belies the more frequent, often increasingly anxiety-ridden trips to the vet’s. They know something foul’s amiss, but what could it be, they must wonder? Yet some dogs and cats somehow manage to not care so much about going to the vet’s to have their maladies dealt with. Indeed, some — like Sophie Sue — clearly prosper in this environment.

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