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Cancer Treatment Options for Dogs

Updated on March 31, 2009

If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, you may get some relief in learning that just as humans, pets benefit and respond well to some traditional cancer treatments. While each scenario is generally different, it is best to consult and discuss these options carefully with your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist. They should be able to see your pet on a case by case basis and provide all the information about these treatments and their outcome.


Surgery is very helpful in pets when the cancer is detected early and it has not yet undergone the process of metastasis (spreading to secondary sites). A typical type of surgery in cancer affected pets is a lumpectomy, where a suspicious lump is removed to prevent the cancer cells to spread to secondary sites. Dogs suffering from osteosarcoma (bone cancer) may need to have a leg amputated. Response to surgery varies and depends on the location of the cancer, its level of metastasis and the pet's over all state of health.


Perhaps the most common form of treatment that comes to mind when the word cancer is pronounced, is chemotherapy. The term may sound quite intimidating to most pet owners, but they may feel some relief when they learn that chemotherapy means nothing more than ''therapy using medications''.

Perhaps chemo's intimidating reputation  derives mostly from the association of images of bald human patients getting very sick. Unlike humans, it appears that pets do not get sick quite as often. Only a small percentage perhaps requires help from side effects. Side effects in pets after chemotherapy treatment may consist of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and fever.

When it comes to losing hair, most pets may loose a few whiskers but hair loss is generally minimum. There are however, some breeds that are more prone than others to lose hair. In dogs for instance, the following breeds seem to be prone more to hair loss following chemotherapy: Old English Sheepdogs, Poodles, Lhasa apsos and Shitzus. It is best therefore, to consult with a specialist on what to expect.


A radioactive beam is exposed on the affected area causing the death of the cancerous cells. While this method may be effective, it generally cannot be considered as a cure. Radiation therapy is often used along with surgery and chemotherapy. It is performed under general anesthesia and works best for cancers that have not spread and it may actually provide relief by shrinking the size of some cancers.

Side effects are not very common. Perhaps the one most observed is a sun burn like lesion in the area of radiation that causes itchiness. Symptoms observed in humans such as nausea, tiredness are generally not common in pets.

There are also holistic and homeopathic treatments for those that want to try non traditional treatments or cannot afford the costs of chemotherapy. However, they may not be effective nor ay they bring the same results as the traditional methods above. Diet may play a big role in cancer patients. Sometimes pets benefit from a combination of treatments.

Each pet responds differently to cancer treatments. For this very reason, veterinarians treat each pet individually by crafting the most effective cancer treatments on a case by case basis.

Dog Chemotherapy

Dog Raditaion Therapy


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      Susan 6 years ago


      I would really like to share this email with you all if you are looking for alternative cancer treatment for your pets.This is a beautiful testimonial that reduced me to tears to say the least. I have removes my business name to abide by the site rules.

      Hi Susan!

      The Essiac tea we ordered from you was for our much loved 6yr old Great Dane "Harley" who was diagnosed with Lymphoma. The vet told us to take him home and love him, that there was nothing we could do for him as with this particular type of lymphoma, by the time you see the symptoms (swollen glands) it is already to late. She gave him just weeks to live. At that point the only symptoms where the swollen glands other than that he was his happy normal self. We were told that he would wake up one day and not want to eat and would go down hill from there. A fast aggressive cancer. Not one to give up so easily, I got online and did my own reseach and amongst other things, found some astounding info on Essiac Tea. I decided to give this a go and was fortunate enough to find your business. Unfortunately our order took the long way getting to us, and during this waiting time Harley completely stopped eating, could barely walk, and was drooling constantly as it was difficult for him to swallow due to the tennis ball size swollen glands. He was reduced to skin and bone so quickly. With my husband working away I was faced with the reality that I would have to be the one to call the vet in to put him to sleep. Just as I had made this tough, heartbreaking decision, the Essiac Tea arrived! I gave Harley 4 capsules straight away. When I returned home later that afternoon I was astounded to be greeted by Harley! He was up and came straight over to greet me! I gave him another 4 capsules and later that night his energy levels were even better. Every day we saw a remarkable improvement. His appetite returned and the swollen glands reduced. It has now been 5 weeks since Harleys diagnoses and he is a happy, energetic boy who has a healthy appetite and is almost back to his normal weight. Along with an anti-cancer diet, Harley is now taking 2 Essaic Tea capsules twice a day. We are so pleased to still have our beautiful boy with us, and a happy boy at that. We were so close to losing him and I strongly believe that without the Essiac Tea Harley would not be with us today. Thank you for making this wonderful product available to us here in Australia.

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      Bruce and Michelle

    • profile image

      dagneto 6 years ago

      Hi Win,

      Not sure if you have found a dog cancer specialist... however my 11 1/2 JRT has just been diagnosed with suspected lymphoma. I've been researching specialist one was recommended by a vet (Melbounre Veterinary Specialist Centre) and the other by my breeder friend (Southpaws). My JRT has been seeing a dermatologist at the former. Southpaws' website seems impressive. You'll need a referral from your vet though... Good luck!

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      Win from Melb Australia 6 years ago

      Thank you for your article about cancer treatment options for dogs. My 15yo toy poodle Magic just had a tumour cut out from his shoulder. The tumour is most likely a Grade 2 soft tissue sarcoma however it can also be a melanoma (the vet can't determine). The vet is unsure whether all cancer cells have been cut out and suggests that one option is to keep a close eye on him and deal with it if/when more lumps come up. I do not want to take any chances when it concerns my baby dog, especially after the vet advised us to not do anything and assured us that 95% chance it was nothing when we first took Magic to see the vet with a tiny lump late last year. I wished I had insisted on the vet testing the tiny lump back then! I'm considering taking my dog to a cancer specialist. Can anyone recomment a good dog cancer special list in Melbourne?

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      ocbill 8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      doggie chemo.....seems logical in todays world given that they have their own sweaters, doctors, veterinarians, health foods, beds, and what not. If it works why not