Your dog was diagnosed with cancer. Now what? Here are the top questions to ask your veterinary oncologist so you can be prepared.
When our regular veterinarian said the word cancer, I felt like the walls of my life were caving in. I immediately went to a really bad place mentally, because I knew so little about cancer in dogs. Bill was diagnosed with lymphoma in September 2022, and much like if he were a human, we were referred to an oncologist. To say I was overwhelmed would have been an understatement.
When things in my life feel like they are unraveling, I like to arm myself with knowledge. I wanted to know as much about cancer in dogs as I could. Because we already had Bill’s diagnosis, my focus was on moving forward.
If you are also facing canine lymphoma, ask your regular veterinarian to aspirate lymph nodes. In addition, we had flow cytometry done, which was able to differentiate between B-cell and T-cell lymphoma. You can also have this done with PARR testing, it just takes a bit longer.
Whether you’re new to the world of cancer in dogs, or just interested in learning more, here are my top questions for veterinary oncologists.
11 Questions To Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist
What are our treatment options?
What are the remission rates and remission periods for each treatment option?
What are the schedules for each treatment option?
How much is each option, broken out by week and also by month? (Not just the total cost)
What are the risks/side effects of each treatment option? Also ask about treatment options for those side effects and how to recognize them, if they happen.
Do they use the smallest dose possible or the strongest dose possible to treat? In joining several pet cancer social media groups, I’ve learned that some oncologists go with the minimum dose that works, which has lower chances of side effects, but also lower odds of long term remissions. Other oncologists hit it as hard as they can without making your dog terribly sick or killing them in the process, which has higher odds of side effects but higher odds of longer remissions, too.
What are signs that the treatment is working or not working?
Are there any special diet recommendations?
If the first treatment option fails, what are the second and third options?
Are there any recommended supplements you should give OR not give while being treated?
Are there any medications we can have ahead of time to have on hand in case of nausea (Cerenia or Zofran), diarrhea (Metronidazole) , inappetence (Entyce)? And does your oncologist recommend giving them as a preventative prior to treatment, or only give if symptoms present?