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How To Treat Nausea In Dogs

Two weeks ago I wrote an article discussing how to recognize the many different signs of nausea in dogs. Now I'd like to share what I typically feel is most successful for treating nausea and inappetence in dogs.

If you remember from the previous article, a nauseous dog may demonstrate lip-smacking, excessive drooling, decreased appetite, lethargy, or may walk over to the food bowl then walk away without eating. Vomiting is the last sign of nausea, which we always want to avoid if possible.

The following recommendations are most appropriate if your dog is nauseous due to a medication or an underlying disease condition such as cancer. If you're not sure why your dog is nauseous, call your veterinarian and seek guidance, there are some situations where nausea (especially with vomiting) is an emergency.

A general recommendation is to withhold food and water if your dog is actively vomiting. Ideally, you would wait at least 6 hours to offer food or water after vomiting has...

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Struggling with Feelings of Sadness After Your Dog's Cancer Diagnosis? You're Not Alone.

When a dog is diagnosed with cancer there are many emotions that the family may experience. Most people report feeling overwhelmed, anxious, sadness, guilt, confusion, and frustration (amongst others). If you've experienced any of these feelings (or feel them now), then you're in good company and what you're feeling is common, according to a recent study.

A recent study reported in the British Medical Journal (Nakano et al. 2019) evaluated data from 99 owners of a pet with cancer and 94 owners of a healthy pet. The study was conducted in Japan, where pets are considered as family members, just as in the U.S. and Canada. 

Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Japanese version of the CES-D (a self-report survey used for depression screening in the U.S.). Anxiety was assessed using the Japanese version of the State-Trait Anxiety-Inventory Form JYZ. The questionnaire measures anxiety as an emotional state (state anxiety) versus an individual characteristic (trait...

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How to Tell if Your Dog is Nauseous

Nausea is an important sign to be able to recognize in dogs. We want to diagnose nausea as soon as possible to help our friend feel better quickly, but also because nausea can be a sign of something serious. By recognizing early signs of nausea, we have the opportunity to get our friend the help he needs as soon as possible.

It's important to know that vomiting is actually the last sign of nausea. The goal is to recognize and treat the earliest signs of nausea so that vomiting can be prevented. Of course, there are some cases where we actually do want a dog to vomit (like if he ingests chocolate or certain other toxins).  With the exception of toxin ingestion, vomiting is typically something that we're trying to prevent.

So what are some of the earliest signs of nausea?
The earliest signs of nausea include decreased appetite, walking to the food bowl (not eating) then walking away, drooling more than normal, lip-smacking, lethargy (obviously lethargy can occur due to a number of...

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How an Oncologist Can Save You Money

Can an oncologist really save you money when your dog is diagnosed with cancer? It seems counterintuitive, right? How can specialty care actually save money?

The most common ways that oncologists save clients money are by (1) making sure that cancer is treated appropriately from the beginning, and by (2) avoiding unnecessary procedures, tests, and treatments.

Get It Right The First Time
I recently saw an Irish Setter that had a very large tumor in the armpit. Two months prior to our consult, she had a low-grade soft tissue sarcoma removed from that area by the family veterinarian; it had grown back in a very short amount of time. After surgery, the family was supposedly told that everything was "good"; they were not offered additional treatment. 

Unfortunately, the original biopsy report showed that the cancer was not completely removed and that it was likely to return. If that dog had received a local treatment such as electrochemotherapy or radiation to kill the remaining...

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How Pet Insurance Can Help A Dog With Cancer

We're all familiar with health insurance. Health insurance is usually considered somewhat of a necessity, especially for those of us that have a chronic health condition. Many of us couldn't imagine not being able to rely on health insurance to help us out. Personally, I wouldn't be able to afford my migraine treatment and medication without health insurance - I am incredibly thankful for it!

Health insurance for our pets is a relatively new concept that has been slow to catch on. Only 1-2% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are insured. This could be because, for a long time, pet insurance wasn't very good. Thankfully, this is changing. 

There are now some very good pet insurance companies out there. On a daily basis, I see how this makes a huge difference in my patients' lives. Families that have pet insurance are able to say "yes" to treatment, which can extend their dog's lives, while other families are not able to.  

Gone are the days when the only option for treatment...

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The Value of a Second Opinion

I started the Canine Cancer Academy because I wanted more people to have the information needed to make educated decisions for their dogs with cancer. 

Cancer in dogs is a very common problem. More than 50% of dogs over 10 years old will develop cancer. These dogs will do best if they are diagnosed quickly and correctly. 

Unfortunately (as you may have heard me say before), veterinarians do not receive much training in cancer in vet school. Most vet schools actually only include about 8 hours of cancer training in the entire curriculum - you can't learn very much in 8 hours. Some vet students will elect to spend two weeks on the oncology (cancer) service during the final year of their studies, but again, you can't learn how to treat cancer in 8 hours plus two weeks of seeing cases.

Because of this, many dog owners will receive inaccurate or outdated advice when their dog is diagnosed with cancer by a family veterinarian. Clients often tell me that their vet has said there...

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What Are Staging Tests and Why Are They Important?

When a dog has cancer, the two most important factors determining how long they will live and which treatments might help them are (1) what type of cancer they have and (2) has cancer spread to other organs (called metastasis). 

We always want to obtain a diagnosis (what type of cancer is present) and find out if metastasis has occurred (has the cancer spread) prior to initiating ANY treatment.

In order to find out if cancer has spread, we perform what we call "staging tests".  With these tests, we are looking throughout the body for evidence of cancer, based on where we know that particular type of cancer often travels. The staging tests for a mast cell tumor (skin tumor) are different than for a dog with lymphoma. The staging tests are also different for a young dog versus an older dog and are sometimes even different for a dog that feels sick versus a dog that feels healthy.

When we perform staging tests we are also trying to assess the overall health of the...

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Will Chemo Make My Dog Feel Sick?

Chemo is a scary word. We all have people close to us that have had chemotherapy and we'd all like to forget how sick and miserable it made them (or made us). Now our dog has cancer and yes, we want her to live longer, but the thought of putting her through chemotherapy...we just can't do it.

Well, as an oncologist, I wouldn't be able to do it if it were similar to a person's experience either. That's why things are very different in veterinary oncology.

In human oncology, we are choosing chemotherapy for ourselves. We accept that we will feel terrible during treatment, but we make this choice in order to live longer; that's the payoff. 

In veterinary oncology, we are making these choices for our dogs. Our goal is of course to prolong life, but not by compromising the quality of life. We give dogs chemotherapy at a fraction of the dosage that they use to treat people to avoid side effects.

Chemotherapy in dogs is either oral or injectable. Most injectable chemotherapy is...

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What is a Veterinary Specialist and How Can They Help?

Veterinary school programs are typically four years long. At most schools, the first three years involve classroom-based learning, and the final year allows the students to work in the clinic, seeing cases with the guidance of interns, residents, and University faculty. The student needs to pass a competency exam after vet school is completed and then must pass a licensing exam in the state they choose to practice.

Most students will become small animal general practitioners after vet school (treating dogs and cats); this is what most people have in mind when they think of a veterinarian.  Others will become large animal (dairy or beef cows, goats, sheep, etc.), equine, mixed (a combination of all types of animals), or exotic practitioners (birds, reptiles, pocket pets, etc.). Additional training beyond four years of veterinary school is not needed for any of these specialties. 

Some students want to get a bit more training before jumping into practice, so they will...

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The Best Way to Diagnose Skin Tumors on a Dog

If you have a dog, the odds are that he will develop at least one skin mass (tumor) in his lifetime.  How do you know if you should worry about it or not?

Most people will ask their vet to look at it, their vet will do so (they might feel it as well), and unless it has "aggressive" characteristics (warm to the touch, hard, fast growing, ulcerated or bleeding), they often just recommend monitoring. 

Unfortunately, monitoring a mass when you don't have a diagnosis isn't good advice.

They're hoping that it's just a lipoma - a common benign tumor of fat that feels soft.  The problem is that many cancerous tumors can feel EXACTLY like lipomas.  If you elect to "monitor" a tumor that's cancer and return to have your vet look at it in a month, two things could have happened during that time.

(1) It might have grown so large that it is no longer amenable to surgery at all.
(2) It might have grown to the point that surgery will remove most (not all) of the cancer cells,...

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