What should you do if your pet has cancer?

You’ve been told your pet has cancer… the last thing any pet owner wants to hear.

An elderly large dog

You may feel lost as to what comes next. Try to find out as much as you can from your vet.

Be sure to ask what your pet’s exact diagnosis is. This is an emotional time, so make sure you write down the exact name.

Discuss all of your treatment options. Find out if your pet needs to be seen by a specialist. Ask your vet the best type (Surgeon? Chemo pro? Radiation pro? Nutritionist?) and where to find one.

Don’t be afraid to ask your family vet, your surgeon or your oncologist (cancer specialist) how many other patients they have treated with a similar diagnosis. Arm yourself with all the facts and it will help you decide what you want to do next.

Here is a short list of questions you should ask and have clear answers to. Save it as a handy checklist if you ever need it…

1. What is my pet’s exact diagnosis?

2. How do we know for sure it is cancer?

3. Can we confirm it with specific testing such as a biopsy?

4. What is my pet’s prognosis (aka outcome)?

5. What is the ideal treatment?

6. What are possible complications of the treatment?

7. Who is the best specialist to treat this type of cancer?

8. How many patients like my pet have you seen in your career?

9. How many similar patients have you treated successfully?

10. What’s the goal of treatment? Curative or palliative?

We have many options to help pets with cancer in this day and age. Don’t give up!

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!