BY JENN JOHNSON, BOSTON, MASS. — Treating cancer is no walk in the park for everyone involved, whether they’re the patient, physician or caregiver. When dogs are afflicted with this dangerous disease, as their master and primary caregiver, we want what’s best for them and we’ll do almost anything to make them happy during this harrowing health crisis.
An Ounce Of Prevention
Before getting into some battle tips, preventing cancer is difficult and questionable given the many mysteries surrounding this curious condition. Many believe that a healthier diet and exercise will help to ward off these cancer cells, while others consider the premise that our pets can contract this disease from other critters.
For example, the Tasmanian Devil (not the cartoon character) can carry a certain type of rare cancer that’s transmittable from animal-to-animal through biting. While it’s obvious the chances of your canine coming into contact with a Tasmanian Devil are extremely remote, there are other wild animals they could contract cancer from. Certain types of rats can carry and transmit this disease, which is exactly why we need to keep these rodents under control and as far away from our companion animals as humanly possible.
Calm, Cool and Collected
We all know dogs are notorious at their ability to interpret feelings like fear in humans, but they can also sense stress and other disturbing issues with their masters. As difficult as it may be under these extraordinary circumstances, people whose pets are undergoing cancer treatment should always try to maintain a positive attitude whenever in their presence. If you seem calm, cool and collected, it will make them feel more relaxed as well.
Some Of Their Favorite Things
“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,” you may know as the opening line of the song My Favorite Things as sung by Julie Andrews in the classic musical The Sound Of Music. While baby cats aren’t usually a canine’s favorite choice as a companion critter, constantly surrounding them with some of their most familiar and favorite things will also put them at ease and in a better mood; giving them a better chance when fighting this disease.
As long as your valued treatment team and veterinarian agree, this should also include their favorite activities like playing fetch or going on walks. Depending upon certain factors of their cancer fighting regiment, regular exercise may be able to benefit them along with other parts of their normal routine.
Chemicals And Carcinogens
Reducing our exposure to environmental toxins can be challenging at best, but for dogs not only are they much smaller than us absorption wise, they don’t have much control over their contact with chemicals and carcinogens. These can sometimes be found in some peculiar and unexpected places.
For example, we can use pet shampoo that’s free of sulfates and parafens, limit their exposure to pesticides and keep them away from second-hand smoke from cigars and cigarettes. On the same note, when we’re out walking them, try to steer clear of running automobiles whose exhaust pipes are often pushing out these toxins right at a dog’s snout level.
The best thing we can do for our beloved pets during this often stressful struggle is simply being there for them. Whether we’re taking them in for treatment or simply lounging on the sofa enjoying their company, they just want to be with us and vice versa.
Born in Chicago and raised in Boston, Jenn Johnson is a journalist and a freelance writer. She completed her PhD in journalism at Northwestern University. You’ll find this pet enthusiast and freelance journalist living happily with her husband, three kids and their two beloved dogs, Thunder and Lightning, in the Back Bay area of Massachusetts, just outside Boston.