Together with your veterinarian you can draft a treatment plan for your dog. In this plan, you will discuss the best approach for your dog and the practical aspects of the plan.
A good communication is essential for a realistic and appropriate treatment plan. On the one hand, your veterinarian can inform you about the practical aspects of cancer: which approach one can follow, how to make a diagnosis, the possible inconveniences associated to the diagnostic procedures, the costs, how the diagnostic results can influence the further treatment course, what can and cannot be expected from the treatment.
On the other hand, it is important to clarify to your veterinarian
- What are your expectations
- What is important and possible (time, financially, … ) for you
- What you do and do not want to know.
Based on this and the character of your dog (how much care will he/she allow), you can draft a treatment plan together.
Each treatment plan starts with a thorough assessment of the dog and his/her medical, social and emotional needs. Following matters can be discussed (non-exhaustive list):
- Check if other conditions besides cancer are present in your dog
- Presence of pain (location, cause, severity, ability to keep it under control)
- Willingness to eat and/or drink. Discuss possible approaches -taking into account other conditions (e.g. kidney issues)- to offer a complete and balanced diet
- Possible (side)effect of the tumour on respiration, urination, defecation, movement
- Which symptoms can be expected depending on the tumour type
- Your dog’s state of mind (relaxed/fearful/cheerful/withdrawn) and how your dog normally behaves
- Need for company (of humans or other animals)
- Whether/how the environment can be altered to your dog’s specific needs
For this plan, one must take into account
- The time available to you to administer care
- The costs that can be expected/planned
- Your view on the course of events.
Then your veterinarian can give you targeted advice on the (evaluation of) the quality of life, how you can administer specific care yourself, possible changes you can make to your dog’s environment, which are the clinical signs to recognize and the end of life.
Ideally, this plan is written down and an estimation is made of the time this plan will take, the estimated costs and necessary control visits.