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Cancer treatment decisions can be challenging for people and their pets

Learning that a beloved pet has cancer can be devastating. In addition to dealing with the emotional turmoil that accompanies this diagnosis, many owners also must make decisions about treatment options. Surgery is a common treatment method, but it can be an agonizing choice for owners, particularly if the surgery is radical, such as amputation.

Walt George, Morris Animal Foundation’s interim CEO and a board trustee, had to face this difficult decision when his 1 ½-year-old golden retriever, Mia, was diagnosed with an aggressive mast cell tumor in her nose.

Surgery is an important treatment component for mast cell tumors, but the size and location of Mia’s tumor was a challenge. Walt and his family were presented with a radical option: amputation of the front part of Mia’s nose.

For most people, any major surgery for their pet, particularly amputation, is a challenging experience. We feel a responsibility to make the best decision for our pets, and we want to be their advocates. Owner’s worry their pets won’t enjoy a good quality of life after surgery, or their mobility will be compromised, or that their life won’t ever be “normal” again.

The good news is, in study after study, pet owners report they are very satisfied with their decision to pursue radical surgery. Most studies report high (greater than 90 percent) owner satisfaction rates with surgery, and the majority of owners report they would do the surgery again if presented with the same choices.

Mia’s story has a happy ending. Walt’s family decided to proceed with Mia’s surgery, and they were glad they did. Mia lived to the ripe old age of 14, looking a bit like a camel but otherwise a typical happy and outgoing golden retriever.

Walt is now a dedicated supporter of research into treating and curing pet cancer. You can join Walt, and make a difference in the fight against canine cancer, by registering today for our third annual Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Virtual Walk.

Our Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Virtual Walk, taking place on May 22, 2016, is a fun way to help raise funds for the fight against pet cancer. This fundraiser can take place “virtually” anywhere. Whether you want to walk solo, on a team, or with friends and family, join our Virtual Walk to help Morris Animal Foundation increase awareness and raise money to help support pet cancer research. Every dollar that you raise will be matched up to $50,000 through a generous gift from the Blue Buffalo Foundation!


Categories: Animal health
May 11, 2016