As pet lovers, a diagnosis of cancer in our pets is devastating. One of the many questions we always ask is what is the prognosis, how long with my beloved pet live.
The answer is complicated and very difficult to provide. There are several factors to consider when attempting to estimate survival time. Even the experts admit that it’s almost impossible to predict how long your pet will live.
Most of the time, veterinarians will count on their past experiences and statistics. But these don’t always tell the whole story.
Vets must consider how long the pet may have been ill before being diagnosed. Other factors can be the state of the pet’s general health, his/her age, the owner’s finances and choices of treatment or not.
I’ve had three dogs with cancer. Two of them, Mazie Dai and Toto were diagnosed with cancer at advanced ages, 15 and 16 respectively. There was no treatment available other than pain medications and what comfort I could give them.
When my 8 year old rottie mix, Timo, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, I learned of two groups online and joined them – Bone Cancer Dogs and Canine Cancer. Both groups offered tons of information as well as amazing support and friendships. In spite of all predictions, some dogs survived only weeks while others lived 5 years or more. Sadly, Timo was not one of the lucky ones. Amputation of the affected leg, chemotherapy, diet and supplements only gave her another 7 months.
Perhaps its not so much how long our pets will survive, but the quality of their lives. We all strive to make their time as pain-free and happy as possible until their time to leave for the Rainbow Bridge.
As I write this, the tears are falling. But I find some comfort knowing that my pets were showered with love, the same love and loyalty they gave me throughout their lives.