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Questions to Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist

If you’re considering chemotherapy to help fight your dog or cat’s cancer, thinking of the right kinds of questions to ask can be overwhelming.

Yesterday in our Forums, Jackson’s mom asked:

OK, folks, we want to have the most fruitful conversation regarding Jackson’s treatment with our oncologist tomorrow.  What questions did you ask that you’re glad you did? What questions did you find yourself asking at a later date that would have helped to know earlier on?


How does one know what to ask? Well, we found that the Dog Cancer Survival Guide makes it easy to prepare yourself for each phases of the cancer battle.

From the time you hear the bad news, to learning how to eat for a long, healthy life, the book’s authors, Dr. Demian Dresler, DVM, and Dr. Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip.ACVIM (Oncology) are there with you every step of the way.

Dressler and Ettinger also offer extra support when you purchase the book along with the Dog Cancer Kit. This helpful package features bonus materials, webinars and special discounts on Dr. Dressler’s Apocaps immune support supplement.

Questions to Ask Your Oncologist

Here are the questions that Dr. Dressler and Dr. Ettinger recommend asking your oncologist or veterinary provider:

  • What do you expect to happen as a result of the treatments you recommend? What is the best possible outcome?
  •  What is the worst? How likely is either of those to happen?
  • If this treatment works, how much time do you think it will gain us?
  • If this treatment works, how much quality of life do you think it will gain us?
  • What are the odds this treatment will not work?
  • Why are you recommending this treatment? Are there negatives is using this?
  • What is the probably outcome if we decline this treatment?
  • Are there other treatment options, and what are the positives and negatives about each one?
  • Do you have any written material I can take home to read?
  • How long will this treatment last? How often do I have to come in?
  • Do I stay with my dog during the treatment, or do I have to leave him with you?
  • Does my dog need sedation or any other medications during treatment?
  • Is this treatment uncomfortable in any way for my dog?
  • Is there any special care I need to give after this treatment? Do I need to be home the rest of the day? The next?
  • Are there any supplies or over the counter medications I will need at home for after-treatment care?
  • What are the side effects of this treatment? How often do they occur? What do they look like?
  • How do I know if a side effect is severe enough to warrant calling you for emergency care? How likely is that?
  • What do I need to prepare my dog for this treatment?
  • How do dogs normally feel after this treatment? Immediately afterward? In the days that follow? When do they feel normal again?
  • Are there any foods, supplements or anything else to avoid before or after the treatment?
  • Are there any new treatments or clinical trials to consider?
  • How much does this treatment cost? Is the cost mostly up front or spread out over time?
  • Does my dog have any other (non-cancer) health issues that limit our treatment choices or may affect her outcome?
  • Does my dog have any other (non-cancer) health issues that may affect her life quality?
  • If I have a limited budget, which treatment or treatments are my first priority?

We think the good doctors have covered all of the bases here but we’re sure there are more questions to ask. What kinds of things did you ask your oncologist? What do you wish you knew back then? Feel free to share your experience below or in Jackson’s Forum Discussion.



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