Has your cat or dog been recently diagnosed with cancer? Are you anxious to do all you can do to save and care for  your beloved pet, whatever it takes? Read on for some must know tips on how to do the best for your pet (and yourself) in this most difficult time.

 

The news that your beloved dog or cat having cancer can be shocking and heart-breaking. Sometimes, there is little you can do except offer comfort and palliative care to the animal you have loved so long and so well.  So much is the onus of the loving and anguished owner who must find the strength to rally for the sake of the beloved animal. The good news is that there are things you can do and great products available to make the experience of dealing with cancer more comfortable and less painful for both your pet and for yourself.

 

Please know that no pet owner is ever alone when it comes to the terminal care of a beloved pet. The establishment of any protocol by a veterinary team will always be in accordance with the pet owner's wishes about the course of treatment and care. In all cancer treatments, the focus should be on supportive care, which includes the administration of medications, learning to recognize the signs of pain and the provision of adequate nutrition.

Boy with DogBoy with Dog
 CVM.UMN.edu

How To Take Care Of A Pet WIth Cancer 

1.  Focus On Being Happy, Even Though It Is Difficult

‘Smile though your heart is aching,' are the lyrics
of a beautiful old song, but their message is vitally important to anyone with
a pet suffering from cancer
Animals, particularly dogs, are acutely aware of their owners' moods and
may incorporate their sadness into sensing that they have done something wrong.
Choosing to be happy is easier said than done, but in the long run, pulling it
off will spill over into the precious time remaining; for gratitude; for peace
and for the tender moments spent together. So try to focus on the good things in your life and in the happy moments together whenever you can. Work on having fun with your dog or cat and try whenever possible to avoid brooding and worrying.  

TogethernessTogetherness
OVRS.com

2. Gather your care army and prepare for battle

You must harness a
team that includes experts who can offer sound advice as you travel down this
challenging path. It may be helpful to use a veterinary oncologist to consult  with even if it is only once. Such a local specialist can be found at the Magic Bullet Fund on the page
called Find a Vet. They can also offer financial help to defray some of the
costs for those in need.  Here's a good resources on getting financial help with vet bills for your pet. 

Emotional support and sharing with other grieving
owners are also vital to your uphill battle to do the best for your pet. There
are also books that can guide you and offer solace as well as  blogs, forums and chat rooms, like the
Rainbow Ridge Pet Loss Grief Center, that deal exclusively with the grieving
process.

 Saying GoodbyeSaying Goodbye
Westportfamilycounseling.org

3.Learn how to recognize pain

No matter how well you may know your pet, pain changes
everything and you will have to observe your animal closely to both recognize
and assess levels of discomfort. Cancer pain can be chronic and acute and
occurs from a number of factors including: an invasive tumor, radiation
therapy, chemotherapy or surgery.

To accurately measure pain levels, you must carefully
observe behavioral changes in your pet, which for some species (birds in
particular who hide signs of pain) is more of a challenge than you might
expect. To further complicate the issue is the great range of pain and the fact
that it can be emotional and psychological as well as physical. As primary
care-giver, you the owner know more than the vet about your pet's behavior and you are in the best position to notice those subtle variations in behavior that
indicate distress.

Pay careful attention to your pet to see what type of pain they may be in, so that you can recognize if and  when the pain becomes very difficult to handle.

Budgie LoveBudgie Love
CDC.gov

In thinking about your pets level of pain and discomfort, keep in mind that there are things you can do to make your pet more comfortable in many cases. For example, you should think about getting for your pet is an Orthopedic Bed if you can afford it. We have five great orthopedic beds that we recommend here. They can really help make your cat or dog more comfortable when resting. For animals that can benefit from heat, and heat therapies,  there are also some great heated products that can keep your pet feel more comfortable.

 

4. Keep a care journal

While it may seem to
be needless paper-work that takes you away from spending time with your pet, keeping a
record of medications; changes in eating/eliminating patterns; dates of
treatments and side effects is an invaluable tool in determining the eventual
course of treatment. In this difficult time, even someone with an excellent
memory cannot be expected to accurately recall everything. Writing it down
provides a permanent and very important record. If you are someone who does well with organizational apps,  there are tons of life planner and task planners that can help with keeping track of everything.

 

5. Make your dog's nutrition and diet a priority

Appropriate nutrition is a prerequisite for every animal
at every phase of life, but when illness is involved, the role of nutrition
becomes even more important. While cancer researchers do not fully understand the nutritional needs
of animals with cancer, it is known that they  may require different
foods in different amounts than their healthier counterparts. All
dietary changes must be made slowly  to help your pet adjust and avoid stress
levels.

Research on cancer suggest that many types of cancer feed on the sugars in carbohydrates, high fructose fruits, and starchy veggies. They do not feed on good fats and proteins. So the goal is to keep your pet’s carb content low while keeping the protein and Omega-3 based fats content high.  Here's an excellent guide on what to feed your dog if he has cancer. Here's an excellent guide for feeding your cat if he has cancer.

Some studies support the idea that traditional pet foods,
no matter how high-end, may not be the best choice without supplementation. 
 Good nutritional supplements as
well as alternative feeding methods like feeding tubes when required are
also recommended.  A high quality fish oil is also very often recommended for cats and dogs with cancer. Our 
recommended fish oil for pets is here.

Supplements for Pets With CancerSupplements for Pets With Cancer

Check with your vet before making any changes in your pet's
diet and also inquire about appetite stimulants and other medications that can
reduce side effects, especially if other medications are causing a loss of your pet's appetite.

 

6. Set up an efficient pain medication schedule

A medication
schedule should be established in cooperation with your veterinarian before any
treatment is administered and then followed afterwards at home. A regular established routine is more effective and easier to accomplish than one that is "as needed" because it is likely to be
less stressful for your pet and not require the administering of higher doses,
which only serve to increase undesirable side effects.

One of the best ways to manage your pet's medicines and other health details is by means of an app on your phone . There are many to choose from so look around for one that willl work for you. I think Dosecast (originally designed for humans) looks like it can be a very helpful app.  I personally find these types of  apps more cumbersome than helpful since you have to constantly maintain them So I tend to do things without smart tools, but if you are good at using them, they can be a great help.

If you don't want to use an app, you can keep the medicine schedule in your pet care journal. Or use a weekly log for medicines. A good way to keep track of medications is to use eraseable markers. Just pick any convenient mirror or glass in your house, or an empty photo frame, to create a medicine schedule for the week  and use your erasable marker to note when medicines were taken.  Of course, you can also use a traditional erase board like this erase board Just find a something that will make it easy to jot down info and keep track of things.

Create An Erase Board To Keep TrackCreate An Erase Board To Keep Track 
Source

Another good tip I've seen  around the web is to use a marker on bottles for medicines taken. If the bottle is hard to write on, just grab some paper and tape it to the bottle to write on or use white masking tape to write on that. I often paste white duct tape to the bottom of bottles and use that to keep track of my medicines as needed.

Mark Medicine When TakenMark Medicine When Taken 
Source

One of my favorite tips for giving medicines when someone is sick  is to set up a medicine basket. Just get a small basket that is easily portable, fill it with the medicines needed as well as the medicine board to keep track of things, along with all the other items that will be handy for the administration of medications. Portability permits you to move all necessary care items in one place. You can use almost anything, although I prefer an organizer caddy with lots of pockets like this one.

Use A Basket Or Caddy To Hold SuppliesUse A Basket Or Caddy To Hold Supplies 

 For giving your pets medicine, if you need to feed them pills, Pill Pockets to help cover up the pills will be very useful.

 

 6. Consider ways you can lessen anxiety

Pets can feel anxious when visiting doctors or doing things that cancer treatments require. Set up rituals and habits that can help ease your pets anxiety in stressful situations. (We have tips here for calming dogs which may be helpful.) One item to consider if you need it is a Thundershirt. These are pressure vests for dogs that do a remarkable job reducing stress and anxiety for many dogs in stressful situations. There are also calming sprays and pills available for cats and dogs that some pets may find helpful. 

 

7. Focus on comfort for your pet

In most cases, the best environment for comfort care is at
home. For you as well as your animal, home is where the heart is. Being in
familiar surroundings among loved ones will help to alleviate fear, pain, stress
and suffering as your animal approaches the end of its life. Home comfort care
may not work for everybody, as it is an emotionally draining endeavor. It will
also require a heightened level of care as your pet understandably loses some
body functions. The best  treatment protocol focuses on the quality rather than the quantity of your pet's
life
and provides a needed transition for you and your family to emotionally
prepare to say goodbye.

 

8.  Use Products That Can Make Your Caretaking Easier

Giving needed care to a sick or dying pet can be extremely stressful. It can also be surprisingly challenging in terms of just logistics and the burden on your physically. Remember that taking care of your pet means first, taking care of yourself. 

There are some really terrific products out there that can make caring for pets at home much easier for you and your family. So if you find yourself feeling weighed down by a particular challenge, go and see if there is a solution. There are really great  products available to help make giving proper care to your pet as they decline in health much easier. Of course, none of these are absolutely necessary to take proper care of your pet. These are just some helpful ideas if you are looking for excellent products that can help you.

As I had mentioned before, for cats, I would think about the heated cat bed we recommend since your cat will be much more sensitive to the cold. You may also want to consider some of our other favorite cat products.  For dogs, in addition to our  favorite dog products,  there are many more products available that you may find helpful in caring for your dog. 

One of the items I highly recommend is getting an indoor dog potty. It will add a lot of flexibility and create less stress on both of you if your dog needs to go and you are not around to help.  Here are the top 5 best indoor dog potties we recommend. 

In addition, for dogs that have mobility issues, it is important for as long as possible to keep them moving and engaged with the world. There are some terrific mobility aids for dogs that can help you keep him moving as long as possible. 

 Mobility Aids Can Help Pets Keep MovingMobility Aids Can Help Pets Keep Moving

 If your dog is ill, he will be much more sensitive to the cold.  If you have cold winters, pleasemake sure to keep your dog warm when they are outside and to protect his paws properly. Here's great tips on Choosing A Winter Coat For Your Dog and  Protecting Your Dogs Paws.

I know that there are a lot of ideas and tips in this article and the whole challenge of taking care of your pet with cancer can be overwhelming. But know that there are definitely things you can do to help your pet and yourself through this difficult time.

 I hope you found something useful here to help you. You will want to always be able to look back on this sad time
and know in your heart that you did all you could for your ailing pet. Remember
too those potent words from that old song about walking through that proverbial
storm and finding at the end of it 
"a golden sky and the sweet silver song of a lark."

Closing thoughts on the loss of a pet...

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul
remains unawakened. ~

Anatole France

 

The Human Animal BondThe Human Animal Bond 

TheWildlike.wbur.org 

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