Canine Cancer Resources and Hope

For every of the previous six months, I’ve written an article for WDJ concerning the cancers that mostly afflict canines. It’s my honest hope the articles will assist any canine homeowners who discover themselves in a battle for their very own canines’ lives perceive what they’re up towards, study therapy protocols and median survival occasions, and the place to seek out medical trials for and cutting-edge analysis on the varied cancers. 

Gathering the data for the collection took an enormous period of time and work, nevertheless it’s been a labor of affection – a means of paying again the numerous devoted, educated veterinary professionals who helped me get by way of the diseases of my two earlier canines. 

Unfortunately, each of my beloved canines in the end succumbed to their illnesses. But we loved many great days collectively whereas we lived with most cancers.


My Border Collie, Daisy, was recognized in 2010 with transitional cell carcinoma, a uncommon type of most cancers, accounting for about 2% of cancers that happen in canines. I threw myself into researching the illness and coverings and was lucky to have a bunch of fantastic veterinary specialists on her group. 

I used to be petrified previous to Daisy’s first therapy, however her main veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey Bryan, assured me that extreme reactions have been uncommon and this therapy would offer the very best alternative for an prolonged life span with good high quality. My belief in her good docs was not misplaced; Daisy lived with nice high quality of life for 2½ years after prognosis, present process chemotherapy throughout most of that point (see “Chemotherapy Can Be Kind,” WDJ October 2011), even enjoying with a flying disc after each therapy.

Then, in 2015, my different Border Collie, Duncan, was recognized with nasal carcinoma – one other uncommon type of most cancers in canines, accounting for about 1% of all canine neoplasia. It was inoperable, however radiation remedy supplied the very best likelihood at lowering the tumor measurement and offering an extending survival time. 

Even after the expertise with Daisy, radiation remedy frightened me: my 14-year-old canine needed to be absolutely anesthetized daily for 5 days in a row to obtain a therapeutic dose of radiation to his head. Duncan was a really delicate soul; I anxious about how these all-day experiences would have an effect on him, to not point out the dangers of all that anesthesia. 

To my shock and delight, Duncan enthusiastically embraced the each day highway journeys of two hours every means and adored his veterinary technician. He fortunately left me within the ready room to go together with her for therapy. I’d look forward to hours in a bookstore, shopping for means too many books and consuming means an excessive amount of tea. 

At the top of the day I might choose him up and we’d journey residence. By the time we arrived residence, he had utterly recovered and was able to play ball for hours (in his heaven, balls rain from the sky). He felt higher after these radiation remedies than he had within the weeks prior. There is one thing to be stated for the pain-relieving properties of radiation remedy. 

We had hoped for a great yr. We bought a terrific month. Yes, I might do it once more in a heartbeat.


I’ve to confess that the analysis for this collection left me discouraged; 50 years of scientific investigation into most cancers has resulted in solely reasonably improved remedies – choices that, generally, prolong sufferers’ lives for just some months at generally unimaginable value (bodily, emotional, monetary). 

For perspective, I turned to somebody who has been finding out, researching, and treating canine most cancers for greater than 15 years, Jeffrey Bryan, DVM, PhD, DACVIM Oncology – sure, the identical particular person I used to be fortunate to have as my canines’ first vet. Dr. Bryan is now not in non-public follow, having lengthy since decamped for analysis and academia. He is now a professor of oncology on the University of Missouri’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and director for the college’s Comparative Oncology and Epigenetics Laboratory. When I first met Dr. Bryan, he was working in a veterinary follow in San Francisco. He impressed me together with his heat and information means again when, and he’s solely gotten hotter and extra educated with time on this difficult discipline.

I requested Dr. Bryan whether or not he nonetheless feels hopeful about treating canine most cancers, and he stated he completely does. “What gives me hope is the fact that we make progress every year,” he advised me. “I watch brilliant young clinicians and researchers become attracted to oncology every year, making me optimistic for creative new solutions. Companies come along with new approaches to treating cancer all the time. Some of these work very well.”

Dr. Jeffrey Bryan in 2000, when he was nonetheless in a common follow veterinarian in San Francisco. Coincidently, he’s inspecting a affected person he had been treating for mammary most cancers

Dr. Bryan jogged my memory, nonetheless, that it’s fruitless to hope for the “end” of most cancers. “Cancer will always be with us, I’m afraid,” he says. “It’s an evolutionary disease. We need to continue to get better at recognizing it early, addressing it comfortably, and fitting the most effective treatment to each patient.”

Dr. Bryan’s observations mirror among the latest approaches to most cancers therapy, whether or not it’s for people or canines. Some researchers are shifting towards reframing most cancers as a continual sickness, one the place sufferers can coexist with most cancers cells (so long as the most cancers is prevented from rising unchecked). It is hoped that new diagnostics will be developed to supply the earliest identification potential after which eradicate cancerous cells at inception, thereby stopping them from growing into an untreatable malignancy. 

As depressed as I’m concerning the prevalence of canine most cancers, I do discover hope within the work of Dr. Bryan and all of his colleagues working within the specialty of veterinary oncology. Remarkable advances have been made in treating our canine companions, supported by the developments in affiliated fields resembling imaging, rehabilitation, ache administration, and pharmacology. Advances within the fields of palliative care and immunotherapy have grown exponentially; the latter is particularly promising. 


In my 5 earlier articles, I described the newest diagnostic instruments and coverings for the most typical canine cancers: mast cell tumors (July 2019), osteosarcoma (August), lymphoma (September), melanoma (October), and hemangiosarcoma (November). 

There are myriad sources accessible to be taught extra about canine most cancers – the above-mentioned sorts and others that now we have not written about – and this info, just like the illness itself, is continually altering. 

If your canine (like my two Border Collies) is recognized with an unusual sort, an web search will convey up a mess of outcomes; do analysis however be discerning in your strategy. Look for respected sources and scientific help for any claims. Many veterinary schools and specialty clinics have web sites with sections for pet homeowners to be taught extra about varied illnesses and coverings; these are credible sources for info. Below, you’ll discover some extra beginning factors for dependable info.

Veterinary oncology specialists. While an skilled common veterinary practitioner who has a particular curiosity in canine most cancers can be an enormous asset to you, I can’t suggest it strongly sufficient that you simply hunt down assist from a board-certified veterinary oncologist. 

These specialists have obtained in depth oncology coaching after veterinary faculty, handed examinations, and accomplished publication necessities to obtain certification by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). When they change into licensed in oncology by the ACVIM, they’ll add the letters DACVIM after their names (the “D” is for Diplomate). 

You can use a characteristic on the ACVIM web site to seek for board-certified veterinary specialists ( If there aren’t any oncology specialists in your space, your veterinarian ought to be capable to seek the advice of with specialists positioned farther afield to develop an acceptable therapy plan on your canine.

Clinical Trials. In order to enhance detection and therapy of illness, essentially the most promising experimental or investigational therapies must be examined in medical trials. The security and efficacy of those therapies and procedures have typically been evaluated first in laboratory animals and the remedy is taken into account to be of potential profit to the affected person. Your canine could or could not profit from participation in a medical trial, however these research advance veterinary science and have the potential to enhance the outcomes of future generations of canines.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) maintains the AVMA Animal Health Studies Database, which gives info on veterinary medical trials reported by researchers. Searches for related research will be performed utilizing the parameters of prognosis, location, species, and discipline of veterinary drugs (resembling oncology). See

The American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation funds scientific analysis with the aim of enhancing the well being of canines. For a hyperlink to the trials they fund, see

In addition, the Veterinary Cancer Society web site maintains a web page with hyperlinks to lots of the organizations that provide veterinary medical trials. See

Books. There are a lot of books which might be very useful for advancing your understanding of canine most cancers. My favorites are:

  • The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, by Demian Dressler, DVM, with Susan Ettinger, DVM, DACVIM Oncology (Maui Media, 2011). A complete information for sensible, evidence-based approaches to canine cancers, together with typical, integrative, and various therapy choices, supportive care, monetary concerns, and sources to assist homeowners optimize lifespan and high quality of life.
  • Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, by Nancy Kay, DVM (Trafalgar Square Books, 2008). An invaluable useful resource for pet homeowners to assist navigate veterinary care and selections.
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee (Scribner, 2010). The quintessential ebook about most cancers – its historical past, discoveries, setbacks, remedies, and hopes for the longer term.
  • The First Cell and the Human Costs of Pursuing Cancer to the Last, by Azra Raza (Hatchette Book Group, 2019). An exploration of the most cancers “industry” and a name for change in analysis and therapy.

Websites. There is not any scarcity of web sites with details about canine most cancers. The checklist of web sites with up-to-date, credible, comprehensible info is shorter. These are a number of of my really useful sources of knowledge for pet homeowners. 

  • and Dr. Sue Ettinger is a practising veterinarian and board-certified most cancers specialist, worldwide speaker, ebook creator, and vlogger (video blogger). Her info is up-to-date and intensely accessible.
  • An incredible useful resource overlaying all the things from the newest in most cancers information to sources to complete articles, that includes Dr. Demian Dressler and Dr. Susan Ettinger, authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
  • The Morris Animal Foundation bridges science and sources to advance the well being of animals. The basis is on the forefront of funding most cancers research in canines, together with the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, one of many largest, most complete potential canine well being research within the United States. The research’s function is to establish the dietary, environmental, life-style, and genetic danger elements for most cancers and different illnesses in canines.
  • The Center for Cancer Research is a division of the National Cancer Institute underneath the National Institutes of Health. In 2003, the Comparative Oncology Program was launched to assist analysis in furthering the understanding of most cancers and enhancing the evaluation of remedies for people by treating companion animals. Comparative oncology is the research of naturally growing cancers in animals as fashions for human illness. Through these trials, pets achieve entry to leading edge analysis and therapeutics; the outcomes then help the additional growth of human medical trials. The website additionally gives illness info, hyperlinks to medical trials, information, and publications.
  • This website has a “Canine Cancer Library” that gives detailed info on an ever-expanding checklist of kinds of cancers. The Foundation’s weblog presents newest canine most cancers information and associated tales.
  • General veterinary details about most cancers in pets.
  • An easy-to-use free search engine that accesses the complete textual content or metadata of scholarly literature throughout an array of publishing codecs and disciplines; a terrific useful resource to search for printed analysis on canine cancers.


In all of the articles about canine most cancers printed right here, I by no means had a possibility to debate holistic take care of canines present process therapy for most cancers. It’s an enormous matter, and one I hope to write down about in a future situation. 

The creator’s Border Collie, Daisy, asking to play Frisbee instantly after one in all her chemotherapy therapy.

Holistic veterinarians embrace a broad strategy to care, not solely inspecting the affected person, but in addition the affected person’s setting, conduct, relationships, and illness patterns. Veterinarians who self-identify as holistic, integrative, or complementary could have a wide range of academic experiences and coaching; they might increase their typical veterinary drugs with chiropractic, acupuncture, herbs, and/or different modalities. Their therapy protocols, then, will depend upon their schooling, coaching, and expertise. 

Note: Veterinarians who establish as providing “alternative” drugs may not use typical veterinary drugs or collaborate with typical veterinary practitioners. Make certain you might be clear about what they do and don’t provide. 

My main veterinarian is a holistic practitioner and was a precious member of Daisy’s group. Throughout Daisy’s sickness, he supported her with acupuncture, low degree mild remedy, diet, and medicinal herbs. He labored intently together with her oncologist to make sure secure and useful integrative care. Complementary therapies will be of nice profit to pets with most cancers, and holistic veterinarians can assist create these personalised help plans.

To find a holistic veterinarian close to you, go to the web site of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, a bunch of member veterinarians and allies who’re elevating the veterinary occupation by way of innovation, schooling, and advocacy of integrative drugs. Go to


One final useful resource – an vital one. Most most cancers remedies for canines are costly, as are the diagnostics and supportive care. I used to be lucky; on the time when my canines have been stricken, I had the funds to deal with each of my canines. I don’t have these monetary sources now, however I do have pet insurance coverage for my present canines. 

If you have got neither the funds nor pet insurance coverage, there are a variety of economic sources accessible for canines with most cancers; the Humane Society of the United States retains a present checklist of nationwide and state-specific pet monetary assist organizations on the following web page:


The choice to deal with (or not deal with) a pet for most cancers is a private choice; there isn’t a proper or improper strategy. Cancers are a bunch of very difficult and numerous illnesses with every oncology case being medically distinctive. I opted to deal with each of my canines and I used to be lucky to have gained extra time with them. More time to eat ice cream collectively. To play ball and Frisbee. To cuddle on the couch. To share synchronized respiration whereas falling asleep collectively. To dream collectively. Every second is a present. 

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