As a dog owner, you would likely do whatever it takes to spare your pet from injury, illness or disease. But what happens when the medical problem in question turns out to be something as serious as cancer? As the costs of treating canine cancer can be considerable, knowing about your options becomes more important than ever.
Traditionally, a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation has been used to treat cancer in dogs. But the result of this course of treatment is rarely an actual “cure” for the cancer. Rather, it tends to serve mostly as a temporary way of making dogs feel better and slow the progress of the disease.
There is good news, however. Advances in veterinary medicine have produced some new, cutting-edge treatment options for cancer. Next time you see your dog vet in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, ask about stem cell therapy and cancer vaccines, both of which may be options available to your dog. Here’s a closer look.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cell treatment for humans has gotten a lot of attention in the media in recent years, but were you aware that this form of treatment is also used to combat cancer in dogs? After a course of chemotherapy, and provided the cancer is in remission, blood is drawn and healthy stem cells are filtered out through a process call leukaphoresis.
After the stem cells have been harvested, the dog undergoes radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells. Once this process is complete, the healthy stem cells can be returned to the body. While the total process is expensive, takes several weeks to complete and involves significant hospital time for the dog, results have been promising.
Another option available to dogs suffering from certain types of cancer is vaccines that help to bolster the immune system and aid it in attacking the cancer. When we think of vaccines, we generally think of them as serving a preventative purpose, but these dog cancer vaccines are a little different. Rather than preventing cancer, these vaccines stimulate the immune system and either slow the growth of cancer cells or cause the cancer to go into remission.
The progress of cancer vaccines in recent years has been encouraging, particularly in the treatment of melanomas and lymphomas. An added benefit is that the side effects of such treatment seem to be minimal. While these vaccines don’t cure cancer, they can certainly add quality time to your dog’s life, and as research is ongoing, the possibilities presented are enough to have many veterinarians, as well as dog owners, taking notice.
As a dog vet in Egg Harbor Township, NJ, Newkirk Family Veterinarians works with area dog owners to provide first-rate holistic veterinary care to dogs of all breeds and ages. If your dog is facing a cancer diagnosis and you’re interested in going beyond the standard chemotherapy-surgery-radiation combination of treatments, give us a call or come see us to learn more about how stem cell therapy and cancer vaccines may be able to help your dog.