Archive for the ‘Cancer in Dogs and Cats’ Category

Can It! Potential Health Effects of Pet Food Packaging

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Am I nuts to worry about the canned dog and cat food I feed my pets everyday? My husband thinks so, but after reading about a study recently published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, I wonder if we all shouldn’t be more concerned about pet food packaging.
Recently, researchers found that people who give up packaged foods, such as canned soups and canned vegetables, can significantly lower the levels of a hormone-disrupting chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA, in their systems. BPA, used in the epoxy resins that line metal food cans and in some clear plastic containers, has been linked to a number of serious health problems in humans, including birth defects and reproductive issues.
Is it too much of a leap to wonder what it might be doing to our pets? I hate to sound like some wacky animal lover who sees ghosts in every corner, but hey, I’ve lost too many of my dogs and cats to cancer, so I can’t help but wonder what effect BPA and other chemicals are having on our animals. And since no one seems to be regulating what actually goes into pet food, my guess is no one’s paying much attention to the packaging of it either. Maybe it’s time we did.
Food for thought.

Read more about BPA at

Rush to Stem Cells Carries Some Risk

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

There’s a thought-provoking article in this month’s Veterinary Practice News by Dr. Narda Robinson that raises some good questions about the safety of stem cell therapy, which is being used more frequently in veterinary medicine to address a number of health issues, including arthritis and spinal cord damage.
If you’re considering stem cell therapy for your dog or cat, you might want to take a look:

Rush to Stem Cells Carries Some Risk.

Also, be sure to read this post from the International Society for Stem Cell Research.  Although meant for human patients, it’s applicable to animal patients, too:

What’s New in the War on Cancer in Vet Medicine

Monday, July 19th, 2010

On today’s show Dr. Michael Kent from the University of California at Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital will tell us about recent advances in veterinary cancer care, including stereotactic radiosurgery for treating brain tumors in dogs.  That’s at 1:30pm Pacific time at

The Responsibility No Pet Owner Wants–But Must Accept

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

by Lisa Stahr

             I want to talk a minute about responsibility.  “Big snooze,” you think, and part of me agrees.  But we’re all adults here and we understand that responsibility is just one of those things that comes with the territory. 
            As pet owners, we understand responsibility.  And for those of us with a special needs pet, we’ve accepted even more responsibility than most pet guardians.  We’ve agreed to help our pets walk when they can’t walk on their own, to express their bladders when neurological damage robs them of that capability, to see that they get the medications, food, and therapies they need to remain comfortable, functional, and happy. 
            By agreeing to share our lives with dogs and cats, we accept the responsibility to care for them properly.  And sometimes—almost always—that means making the extremely difficult decision to euthanize them when the time has come.  Like it or not, it is our responsibility.
            At Scout’s House, we’ve talked with many clients over the years about when it’s time to make that horrible decision.  Because we see the pets so frequently, we’re well aware when they’ve started to decline, how quickly and how far they’ve gone, and whether there’s a road back again.  Our policy has always been to gently initiate a conversation about it with our clients and give them a copy of our “When Is It Time?” quality of life scale, but ultimately we leave the decision up to them and their vets. 
            There are times, though, when clients “just can’t” make the decision, no matter how much input we or their veterinarians offer.  I understand how hard it is—I’ve had to make the decision for six of my pets and I’m here to tell you it is not easy.  It is always heartrending and you are always filled with doubt, no matter how obvious it is that the time is right. 
            But saying you “just can’t” does not excuse you from the responsibility.  If your pet is suffering—like the dog in the final stages of degenerative myelopathy who’s having trouble breathing or the dog who refuses to eat or drink, can’t walk anymore, and doesn’t show any joy for life—it is unconscionable to prolong that animal’s life because you “just can’t” make the decision. 
            This is your responsibility—one you took on when you agreed to share your life with your pet—and telling everyone you “just can’t” make the decision does not excuse you from the responsibility.  (By the way, if you “just can’t” make the decision, then you probably know it’s time—you just don’t want to do it.) 
            So, if you think that the time might be coming for your dog or cat, start preparing yourself.  Recognize that it’s one of the most difficult decisions you’ll ever have to make.  Ask your veterinarian for guidance.  Take our “When Is It Time?” evaluation.  Read as much as you can about how to make the decision (Dr. Nancy Kay’s book “Speaking for Spot” has an excellent section on euthanasia).  Talk to your family and friends.  But don’t stall and don’t run the pros and cons over and over in your head while your pet endures a miserable quality of life. 
            Be a responsible adult and make the damned decision.

If You’re Doing Internet Research on Your Pet’s Health Issue…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

…first read Dr. Nancy Kay’s recent blog post, “Everybody’s Gone Surfin’,” which explains how to find “instructive, accurate, worthwhile Internet information” and avoid “online junk food.”  (Love that phrase!)   This is a must-read post for all of us who use the Internet to learn more about the health issues our pets face (and who, besides my 86-year-old mother, doesn’t do that?)!  

Check it out at

Dr. Kay is a Board-certified internal medicine specialist with VCA Animal Care Center in Rohnert Park, CA, and the author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, which is a wonderful soup-to-nuts guide for any pet owner, newbies and old hands alike.   Her info is:

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Spot’s Blog:

Advances in Canine and Feline Cancer Care

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Join us for another informative show about a topic that many pet owners, sadly, know only too well:  cancer in dogs and cats.  We’ll be talking with one of the nation’s leading veterinary oncologists, Dr. Linda Fineman from Veterinary Medical Specialists in Campbell, California, about some new and exciting developments in veterinary cancer research and care.  That’s tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18th, at 11am Pacific time at

Exciting Research in Canine Lymphoma

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

by Lisa Stahr

I just went to a talk given by Dr. Michael Kent, a veterinarian (clinician and researcher) at the University of California at Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, and was really excited to hear about his research into canine lymphoma.  Specifically, he was looking for a way to use Taxol in dogs with lymphoma–it’s a very effective drug with certain human cancers, but unfortunately, Taxol causes severe allergic reactions when given to dogs.  So he got together with another researcher (a veterinarian who works in human medicine at Davis) and they created a way to coat the Taxol in nanoparticles (don’t ask me to explain–I was an English major).  The exciting part is they’ve found that not only do the nanoparticles eliminate the chance of allergic reaction when the Taxol is delivered this way, but they also, somehow, improve the efficacy of the drug, killing more cancer cells more quickly than when Taxol is delivered without it.  So, the delivery method actually is helping the effectiveness of the chemo.

As a really nice sidelight, Dr. Kent also found that the nanoparticles are actually enabling researchers to better pinpoint where the cancer has spread in the dog than they were ever able to do with traditional methods.   Apparently, the particles seek out the cancer cells everywhere in the body and bind to them, which in turn allows the researchers to see, through imaging, all the places in the body where the cancer is.

Preliminary results of Dr. Kent’s study are really encouraging, and he is understandably excited about this work.  He’s getting ready to enroll the final three dogs in his study to determine efficacy, dosage, and frequency–but I thought I’d share it because it’s really heartening news for people have dogs with lymphoma.

The one thing I came away from this talk was just how very important funding is to this kind of work.  Dr. Kent’s lab is very small–I think he only has 2 assistants.  But with more money, this kind of research could happen at a much faster pace, and perhaps make a difference in the lives of many of our pets.  It’s something to consider if you’re in a position to help and interested in supporting this kind of work.