1. Put on your game face!
Your every mood and facial expression has a profound affect on your dog. You may be angry, determined, sad or terrified, or all of the above. Still, try to remain calm and upbeat. Don't make your dog wonder what he or she has done wrong to upset you!
Itís difficult during this very emotional time to maintain a positive attitude but itís important for your dog Ė and for you! Take time to simply be with your dog without thoughts of cancer. Be grateful and full of joy for the time he has been with you and because he is with you now.
2. Assemble your team
Fighting cancer is a team effort. Begin to assemble a team of experts to guide you and advise you during your journey. Your team should include a veterinarian who will provide treatment. If this is a general practice vet, a veterinary oncologist should be accessible to him/her for consultation on your dog's case. If you need help finding a veterinary oncologist in your area, the Magic Bullet Fund can help. Visit the page on this site called Find a Doctor.
Donít forget your emotional support group as part of your team. Others caring for dogs with cancer can help, as can your family and friends. Youíll need allies in this battle.
3. Keep a log
From the very beginning, keep track of medications, changes in eating and defecation/urination habits, names and dates of treatments, side effects and attempts to counteract side effects. This information may be invaluable later during the course of treatment.
4. Make diet and nutrition a priority
The cancer fighting diet is is low in carbohydrates and high in Omega-3 fatty acids with moderate protein. You will also want to provide cancer fighting and nutritional supplements. Always make dietary changes gradually. Do one thing at a time so your pet has a chance to adjust and avoid unneeded stress.See more about diet on the Nutrition page.
A very good alternative to feeding canned or bagged food is a good home made cancer diet! Many have chosen to feed their dogs with cancer "Bullet's Cancer Diet." In my book Help Your Dog Fight Cancer you will find complete detailed instructions for preparation of this tried and true cancer-fighting diet for dogs, with color photographs of each step (cookbook style).
5. Provide filtered water
Provide plenty of fresh drinking water. Cancer dogs should drink filtered water only. The simplest way to provide this is with a countertop filter with the spigot positioned just above the water bowl.
6. Beware all chemicals
Lawn-care chemicals are a leading cause of canine lymphoma, transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) and others. Household cleansers and carpet cleaning chemicals are also dangerous because dogs lick them off their paws!
7. Never vaccinate a dog with cancer
Vaccinations required by state law may in some cases be waived if a form is submitted, signed by your vet, saying that vaccination could be harmful to your dog because of his diagnosis. For a sample waiver that you can print and bring to your veterinarian, CLICK HERE. For more information about vaccines and cancer, CLICK HERE. In the words of Dr. Messonnier in his book The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, "Vaccinating a dog with cancer is like throwing gasoline on a fire."
8. Be prepared for emergencies
Doesn't it seem as though dogs always get sick on the weekend or late at night? Stock a first aid kit with the things you may need including over the counter items, pain medication and homeopathic remedies. Know where the nearest 24 hour emergency clinic is and program the telephone number into your cell phone. Have a plan in place to get your dog to the car in case heís unable to walk.
9. Don't overlook your dog's whole health
When your focus is on helping your dog fight cancer, itís easy to overlook other whole health considerations. Perform routine at-home check ups once a week. Be vigilant for health problems such as new tumors, unhealthy teeth and gums, elbow sores and brittle nails. Bathing, grooming and brushing your dog's teeth are particularly important.
10. Trust your judgement
Many difficult decisions need to be made on behalf of a dog with cancer, including treatment options, diagnostic testing, resolving treatment side effects, home care options and sometimes the very hard decision of whether or not to terminate treatment. Consider whatís best for your cancer-dog and his comfort - you know him better than anyone - and trust that youíve made the best decision.
From nutritional and herbal supplements to raw diets to massage, chiropractic, Reiki and acupuncture, there are many alternative therapies that may make your dog more comfortable. Don't knock Ďem till you try Ďem. You just may find the perfect combination of therapies for your dog.
Remember your new mantra...
NOT TODAY AND NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT!
Not Today and Not Without a Fight!
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