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Pet Cancer Awareness: Caught early, cancer no longer a death sentence for family pets

IMG_31531 in every 4 dogs and 1 in every 5 cats will develop cancer in their lifetimes. That is a sobering number of pets diagnosed each year. November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and as a pet parent of a dog who has beat cancer, I’m here to tell you that cancer isn’t a death sentence.

Medical advancements and a better understanding of how cancer works has led to a dramatic increase in the lifespan of both people and pets diagnosed with cancer.

First, let me tell you that I know how devastating it can be to receive a cancer diagnosis for your beloved pet. I’ve been there. If you’re facing a recent diagnosis, start your research and healing process here.

Now that you’ve had a little time to process the diagnosis, educate yourself and learn about the options that you have options available to you. This may include a consultation with a veterinary oncologist. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion, too. After all, you are your pet’s best advocate. Read More »

Becoming a Tripawd– The Truth About Leg Amputation in Dogs

June 26For those of you who have been following Barret’s story, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of canine cancer following a surgery to remove a lump.  The only option available that would save his life was to amputate his front left leg. My last post about Barret’s surgery I covered some of the products that were helping us through the recovery stage.

We’re about 3 weeks post-amputation now and I have to admit that Barret is doing even better as an official Tripawd than I anticipated. Every time we take him out in public, we get a barrage of questions about his condition and I’m starting to realize that there are a lot of misconceptions out there about 3 legged dogs and I’d like to set the record straight! Read More »

Dog surgery | Preparing your home for a recovering dog


Barret, resting the day before his surgery

I recently found out that a lump on my dog’s leg was actually a form of dog cancer, specifically Hemangiopericytoma, a very aggressive, locally invasive cancer. Talk about devastating news! I did a ton of research and consulted with several vets in my area. All of my sources (books, forums, and vets alike) recommended amputating Barret’s front leg as the only viable option to treat the type of cancer he has.

I do not have words to describe the gambit of emotions those words and this journey in general has brought to the surface. It is really a life changing experience for anyone who has to go through it. I need to take a second here and give a shout out to a wonderful community devoted to 3 legged dogs, Tripawds.com. The founders and members of that community are the only reason I have been able to hold on to my sanity the last few weeks (and probably the coming few weeks too).

Barret had his surgery yesterday and he was supposed to stay at the hospital 2 nights, but because he is such a fighter he has rebounded quickly and we are going to be bringing him home tonight! Good thing I’ve been preparing for this for a few weeks now, I know we’re ready for him.

Many of the items that I purchased or the precautions I’m taking to help my dog recover from surgery will help for any type of dog surgery recovery, so I’d like to share these tips with you.
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Measuring Quality of Life in Your Pet

While I’ve been doing my due diligence and reading everything I can get my hands on about treating canine cancer, I’ve noticed the term “quality of life” comes up a lot. How do you define quality of life? How do you know when your pet’s quality of life has declined to the point that it is time to let them go?

dog cancer survival guide authors

Dr. Dressler & Dr. Ettinger from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

In my pile of books I did find one (The Dog Cancer Survival Guide) that attempted to define and measure quality of life in dogs. It broke the “quality of life” concept down into bite-sized chunks of the things that we think our pets enjoy. When one or more of these things is compromised because of age, illness or injury, quality of life is diminished. It is up to the individual pawrent to decide when to when to pursue a treatment or euthanize a pet, but this broken down way to quantify the of the quality of life can be useful in making decisions by employing a more scientific and less emotional scale to measure your pet’s true quality of life. It is only intended as a tool to help with decision making, not as a definitive guide of when to help your pet move on.

Dr. Dressler breaks down quality of life into 6 sections: Read More »

Dog Cancer: What to do when your dog has cancer

Canine Cancer AwarenessHi fellow pet lovers,

Today I am writing about a subject that I hope none of you will ever have to experience:  Canine cancer. If you’ve been following my recent posts (here and here), you’ll remember that my 4 year old mixed breed dog, Barret, had a tumor removed and a biopsy was performed. Unfortunately, last week those results came back positive for the “C” word. His cancer specifically is called Hemangiopericytoma, a type of soft tissue sarcoma.

I never dreamed that I would have to cope with something this emotionally draining so early in my dog’s lives. It happens, and unfortunately either because people are more in-tune with their pets or due to environmental factors it is becoming an all too common epidemic.

I’ll be using That Pet Blog to chronicle my journey, provide insights, and hopefully to help someone else who may be struggling to fight canine cancer.

I thought I had been preparing myself for this diagnosis from the time we found his underarm lump, but I was still devastated to learn my Heart dog had cancer. Now that I have had a week to process, I think that there are a few distinct steps you have to go through in order to make great pet parent decisions. So if you’re reading this because you just received some bad news of your own, start with these simple steps:

  1. Let Yourself Grieve
  2. Be a Strong Pack Leader
  3. Arm Yourself with Information
  4. From Here Out, Make Every Day Count
  5. Make Responsible, Informed Decisions

Read More »

How much is too much – What is the real cost of extending our pets’ lives?


My teenie tiny Barret the day we brought him home

If you’ve been a Pet Blog reader for some time now, you know that I treat all of my pets as if they were two-legged family members. They get home cooked meals, birthday parties, and great veterinary care. Each one of them has worked their way deep into my heart, and life without any one of them just wouldn’t be the same. A medical issue has come to a head recently and left me with some very serious topics to consider: How much is too much to spend to extend a loved one’s life, and what is the true cost emotionally, financially and through the suffering of your beloved pets? Read More »

A Lump in the Night – Should You See the Vet?

Bear has a bum paw

The bandaged foot, kept clean and dry.

Barret had spent the evening on my lap, as usual, but I noticed after a bit that he was chewing on one of his paws. I got up to examine it and was shocked to find a red, raw, inflamed toe. Just one toe, and it had to be twice the size of the rest of his toes. It looked painful!

I examined his paw for the source of the discomfort, a cut or scratch, maybe a burr or stone, even a bug bite, but could not find anything. He didn’t seem like he was in pain and was perfectly content to lick on his Lickety Stick while I soaked his foot in warm soapy water and bandaged it up. In every other way he seemed completely normal. I made the decision to keep an eye on it and treat it at home.


Bear’s offending paw. Looks painful!

The next night, he was relaxing on his back while I gave a well-deserved belly rub when I noticed a large lump had formed in his armpit (on the same leg as the swollen toe). Why is it that we find these things after regular vet hours? I hopped on the internet and did some searching. There wasn’t much to go on but I had myself convinced it was a lymph node swollen because of the infection in his toe. The next morning I made an appointment with my regular vet and was fully convinced that I’d leave with a course of antibiotics and instructions to keep the toe clean.

I’m very glad I consulted with my vet, because on further examination my assumption was wrong. The toe was infected, though it was a more severe infection that I had originally thought. It required 2 full courses of antibiotics before it cleared up. The lump on his armpit is another matter entirely. The doc’s conclusion was that it is a cyst with a clearly defined blood supply, but should cause him no problems and doesn’t need to be removed unless it starts to get in his way. Phew!

The moral of the story is that you should always consult your veterinarian rather than making guesses at home. Your kids’ health is at stake! If I hadn’t sought care for Barret’s foot, the infection could have spread and required IV antibiotics or more drastic measures.

Glad to be back from the vet

Back from the vet with a clean bill of health

Dogs often have lumps and growths all over their bodies and as pet parent’s it is our duty to examine and find these anomalies early, before they get out of hand.  Many lumps and bumps, like Bear’s cyst, are benign and nothing to worry about, but a similar lump might actually be cancerous and require treatment. The earlier you find and treat a problem, the easier it is to manage.

Watch for a future article where I’ll go over a step by step home physical so that we can track the changes in our pets bodies and know when to schedule an appointment with the vet. In the meantime, please share your stories of lumps or bumps that turned out to be nothing or turned out to be problematic. We can learn from each other’s experiences.


Breast Cancer in Pets

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I thought I’d research a topic that many people don’t know a lot about; breast cancer in pets. Most people are aware that pets can get many different types of cancer, as it is the leading cause of death in older pets. lazy cat

Among pets, dogs appear to have the greatest prevalence of breast cancer; it is estimated that 1 in 4 unspayed female dogs will develop a form of breast cancer. Other animals, such as cats, rats and other small mammals can also suffer from breast cancer, known as mammary cancer. About half of dogs who are diagnosed with breast cancer have a malignant form of cancer, but if caught early enough both types of cancer can be treated through removal of the tumor and chemotherapy. Breast cancer can be prevented in most pets simply by having them spayed (and that helps with pet overpopulation too!). Read More »

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