When To Euthanize A Dog With Cancer

Our canine companions are a member of our family, making a cancer diagnosis extremely devastating. Not only is it difficult to hear the words, but many owners struggle with understanding the process of their disease and when it’s actually time to let them go.

In this article we will help you understand the diagnosis of cancer in dogs. The signs that your dog may be struggling in their disease and when it’s time to consider letting your furry friend go.

Consider Your Dog’s Specific Situation

When To Euthanize A Dog With Cancer

Before we dive into the conversation of when to euthanize a dog with cancer, it’s important to realize that every dog is different. While some pet parents discover a dog’s cancer during a drastic decline in their health, others may discover the issue during a routine exam of their happy pup. Some dogs will have a short span of happy days after their cancer diagnosis. And others will continue to live comfortably for months on end.

Our pups are just like humans in the sense that each and every body will respond differently to medical conditions. While your veterinarian’s guidance will help you maneuver this upcoming journey with your sick canine, your daily observations and understanding of their personality will help you make this decision as well.

Now that you understand how different each situation can be based on the dog in question, let’s dive into the common types of cancer in dogs.

Common Types of Cancer in Dogs

While there is a long list of cancers that can impact our furry friends, there are some common ones that are seen often in the veterinary office. Some of the common types of cancer in dogs include:

  • Lymphoma
  • Mast Cell Tumors
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
  • Melanoma
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Malignant Mammary Tumors
  • Lung Cancer

Each of these types of cancer can cause an array of symptoms. These symptoms are usually why a concerned owner brings their dog to the vet.

This can include:

  • New or fast growing masses on the body
  • Weight loss
  • Change in appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Limping or lameness
  • Unusual swelling
  • Changes in breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • and many other changes in behavior

How Are Dogs Tested For Cancer?

Sick dog with cancer

When it comes to diagnosing cancer in dogs, there are a number of ways to go about this. The protocol will often differ based on the symptoms your dog presents with. This just means that the route of testing is usually different for each dog. Some of the most common ways to test for cancer in dogs include:

  • Needle aspiration of masses
  • Biopsy of tissue
  • Blood testing
  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI

Diagnosing cancer in dogs can be challenging at times, meaning your vet will likely use multiple forms of diagnostics to get to the bottom of their symptoms. Using multiple forms of testing is the best way to get the entire picture.

Can You Make A Dog With Cancer Comfortable?

So what do you do now once your dog is diagnosed with cancer? Are they bound to suffer each day they go on, or are there ways to improve the time they have left? The answer to this question will vary based on the cancer your dog is diagnosed with.

Based on your dog’s specific diagnosis, your vet will try their best to make their life as comfortable as possible. This may include offering them a special diet, offering pain management if needed, controlling undesirable GI issues, implementing frequent check ups, and offering tips for comfort that you can apply at home. Establishing a close relationship with your veterinarian is key for keeping your dog comfortable.

Signs That It’s Time To Say Goodbye To A Dog With Cancer

So how do you know when it’s time to let your canine companion go? Since we can’t ask our dogs how they are feeling each day, it’s important to understand the signs of a sick dog. Some of the signs that it’s time to say goodbye to a dog with cancer include:

  • Drastic decline in their appetite or no interest in eating at all
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that persists
  • Lameness or limping that will not resolve
  • Changes in breathing
  • Lethargy or disinterest in things they once loved
  • Difficulty moving and getting around each day
  • Slowing down
  • Any other drastic shift in their daily habits

You know your canine friend well, so it’s up to you to be their advocate when their behaviors and daily interests begin to shift. If you think your pup is beginning to suffer, it may be time to speak to your vet about Euthanasia.

My Dog Has Cancer But Acts Fine

Like we mentioned above, some dogs can continue to live comfortable lives despite their cancer diagnosis. It’s extremely hard to euthanize a dog that is still happy and living life normally, and you shouldn’t feel the pressure of having to euthanize your dog the moment they are diagnosed.

So many pet owners feel a weight on their shoulders to make a fast decision when their dog is diagnosed with cancer, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. While some dogs will experience a sudden decline in health that warrants a quick decision, others will carry on comfortably in the following months, even years.

If your dog is still acting fine and your vet agrees that they are not currently suffering, there is nothing wrong with continuing to spend time with your beloved companion. As long as you are staying on top of their illness and keeping your vet updated as time goes on, you can make the most of the time you have left with your special pup.

Final Thoughts

There is nothing worse than the thought of saying goodbye to our furry family members, and we understand how important the time you have left with them is. Be sure to review the tips we’ve listed above on how to know when to euthanize a dog with cancer, so you can responsibly soak in the remaining days with your canine companion.

There are 3 comments:

  • Mary Prewitt at 3:48 pm

    My 12 year old dachshund had a large tumor in his liver 2.5 yrs ago. We put him on Dememarin. He if failing. His gums are almost white, his belly is extended and his spine is arched. He is sleeping more but seems to still be happy. The vet gave us Gabapentin for pain. I just don’t know how much pain he is in. How do I know when to put him to sleep? We love him so much but don’t want him to suffer.

    • Amber LaRock at 4:28 pm

      While I cannot say for sure, it does sound like it may be time to speak with your veterinarian about saying goodbye to your pup. The liver is responsible for red blood cell production and clotting factors in the blood, which can cause a dog to become anemic in the late stages of liver failure (this is likely why your dog has pale gums and is lethargic). This is usually a serious symptom that presents in the late stages of liver disease, so I do think it’s time to discuss quality of life with your veterinarian.

    • Stephanie A. at 12:00 am

      Hi! My dog was just diagnosed with the same. Reading your comment that your dog was still with you and still happy 2.5 years after the original discovery of the tumor gives me so much hope. I am sure he knew how much he was loved until the very end. Warm regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *