Quality of Life After Canine Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment


"Assessing and predicting the quality of life of your dog after a canine cancer diagnosis or after treatment can be difficult for the owner to determine. Understanding your dog's activity level, appetite, alertness, and body condition and discussing with your veterinarian can help you make the best decision possible, for your dog and for you."


Your dog's expected quality of life after canine cancer treatment is an important consideration in whether or not to treat your dog. There are many side effects to cancer treatment. The decision on whether or not to treat the cancer is going to be part of the conversation between you and your veterinarian.

You know your dog better than anyone. It is only you that can report to your veterinarian how your dog is behaving, and the impact the cancer is having on their health. Look at your veterinarian as a trusted adviser, not the person responsible for your dog's well being.

Canine Cancer: Quality of Life Assessment

The Animal Medical Center in New York City has a scale to help determine if the quality of life after canine cancer treatment will result in a positive quality of life for your dog. It is helpful to think about each of the following factors in making a determination. If you can answer that after treatment your dog will score highly in each factor, then treatment makes sense.

  1. Eating
  2. Alertness
  3. Body condition
  4. Activity Level

Canine Cancer: Expectations

It is sometimes helpful to write down your expectations for each factor prior to having a discussion about treatment with your veterinarian. You can then discuss each one and see how your expectations match the expected reality of treatment. If your ratings are higher than what your veterinarian tells you, it might not make sense to put your dog through a treatment that will not result in equal or better quality of life.

Our only thought is that if your gut tells you that treatment will result in a better quality of life for your dog, then by all means do it.

Sources and Further Reading

Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook
James M. Giffin
Liisa D. Carlson DVM

Hound Health Handbook
Betsy Brev itz, DVM

Nutrition and Cancer: New Keys for Cure and Control 2003!
Gregory K. Ogilvie, DVM, DACVIM (Internal Medicine & Oncology)
Colorado State University
Ft. Collins, CO, USA

Prostatic Disease in the Dog
Peter E. Holt, BVMS, PhD, ILTM, DECVS, CBiol, FIBiol, FRCVS
Professor of Veterinary Surgery, University of Bristol,
Department of Clinical Veterinary Science
Langford, Bristol, UK

Antony Moore, BVSC
Diplomate ACVIM
Director, Veterinary Oncology Consultants
379 Lake Innes Drive
Wauchope NSW 2446

Canine Brain Tumors: Improvements in Diagnosis and Treatment
R Chun
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Neoplasia of the Nervous System (spinal tumors)
S. Long
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Current Therapy for Canine Oral Tumors
M. Kessler
Tierklinik Hofheim, Germany