Easing Anxiety for Pets with Cancer
If your pet has recently been diagnosed with cancer, it can be tough on everyone. Depending on the type of cancer your furry buddy has, treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, all of which are pretty stressful for both you and your pet. We've asked our expert, Dr. Leslie, for a few tips on dealing with a cancer diagnosis, and how to ease stress in the home during the treatment process.
Q: How can pet parents manage stress in the home when dealing with their pet's cancer diagnosis and treatment?
Dr. Leslie: Changing routines can be stressful. To help Fido face cancer, stay calm, keep the current routines — including food routines, unless your veterinarian makes a diet recommendation — and keep any necessary rituals as consistent as possible. If your dog or cat has a favorite activity, this could be a special reward to add and allow you and your dog or cat extra bonding time.
Q: If my pet requires surgery, what can I do to make her feel calmer and help with healing before and after surgery?
Dr. Leslie: Offer affection and rewards for going to the hospital, and if a hospital stay is needed, some dogs love to have a sweater from home and a visit from the family while in the hospital.
The key to fast recovery is to keep the surgery site clean and dry — and stable if a surgical area is over a joint or an area that moves a lot. Your veterinarian may recommend cage rest, Elizabethan collars, sedation or covering.
Q: What can I do for my pet if he is receiving chemotherapy or radiation?
Dr. Leslie: Maintaining appetite and body weight are really important for veterinary cancer patients. If his appetite wanes, talk to your veterinarian about diets that will help pack in extra calories while his body works against the cancer.
Talk to your veterinarian prior to radiation regarding soothing ointments and creams that may help ease the pain associated with radiation and any pertinent pain medications your pet will need.
Q: Is there anything I can do to make my pet more comfortable during treatment or help with tummy upset?
Dr. Leslie: Add rugs to solid surface floors if the pet is weak and has difficulty walking. Don't make him have to walk too far to get to food, water or his potty place. Plush, padded bedding will help prevent bed sores for the resting patient.
Making sure his diet is complete and balanced will provide him the protein, fatty acids, calories and vitamins and minerals his normal body systems need to function and fight. Talk to your veterinarian if your pet develops signs of upset stomach to decide if a diet change is right and what kind of diet may be indicated.
Q: Can stress from pet parents negatively affect a pet?
Dr. Leslie: Probably. At least it is known that in cats, human stress and lower urinary tract disease are associated, but the same is not documented in cancer patients.
Q: In multiple-pet homes, should other pets be kept away from the one with cancer?
Dr. Leslie: It depends. If your dog or cat loves time with his or her companions, allow them time together. If not, allow the patient time to rest.
Have you helped your furry friend get through cancer treatment? Tell us below how you kept things calm.
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