Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love


1 in 4 dogs cancer thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in cats and dogs, which is why organizations like the National Canine Cancer Foundation have set aside the entire month of November to educate pet parents about the causes, effects, and treatments of this terrible disease.


  • 12 million cats and dogs are diagnosed with cancer every year
  • 1 out of every 4 dogs will be diagnosed with cancer
  • 1 in 5 cats will get cancer
  • Half of all dogs diagnosed will die from cancer
  • Dogs are 2x more likely to develop leukemia than humans, 4x more likely to develop breast cancer, 8x more likely to develop bone cancer, and 35x more likely to develop skin cancer

Like so many others of you I’ve dealt with canine cancer. My beloved Lab Murphy  was diagnosed back in 1999 at the age of 11. She competed and earned titles in obedience, agility and her favorite thing of all, AKC Hunt Tests, She’d never been seriously ill or injured, was in great shape, led an active life and this came as a huge surprise. After consulting at length with my vet I chose not to put here through surgery, chemo or radiation. My decision was to give her the best life possible in the  time she had left and accept the end when it came. Murphy, her ‘sister’ Cecil and I kept up our activities for the next year and a half. On her final day Murph spent the afternoon doing triple water retrieves from the dog dock at a nearby dog park. That evening she was in great distress and I rushed her to the vet where the final decision was made. Some may differ, but I stand by my decision, based in great part on her age at the time of diagnosis. Murph’s final time was a happy one, and I hope the one she would have chosen for herself.

MURPH thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

Had Murphy been a young dog I’m sure my choice would have been different, and that brings me to the topic of cost.  According to CostHelper, here are the costs of treating cancer in dogs:

  • Costs vary widely, depending on the type and stage of cancer, the number of treatments needed and the age and condition of the dog.
  • The initial visit, including diagnosis, discussion of prognosis and a treatment plan likely will cost $200 and up, depending on the location of the cancer, according to The National Canine Cancer Foundation.
  • Major surgery to remove a tumor deep in the body, or that requires reconstruction, usually starts at about$1,500.
  • Chemotherapy depends on the size of the dog, and usually ranges from $200 to $2,000 and up, for three to six months of treatment.
  • Radiation therapy usually ranges from $2,000 to $6,000.
  • The treatment combination depends on the type of cancer. For lymphoma, the most common type of cancer in dogs, treatment usually consists of only chemotherapy. The average claim amount submitted to Veterinary Pet Insurance for lymphoma is $479. Mast cell tumors usually are treated with only surgery, and sometimes radiation or chemotherapy, depending on the stage, and have an average claim amount of$604. Osteosarcoma is sometimes treated with amputation surgery and almost always with chemotherapy, with an average claim amount of $446.

These seem on the low side to me, based on what I’ve read from dog parents currently battling the disease. For example, according to a recent post, for Benny of Two French Bulldogs, who sadly lost his battle with liver cancer, the costs came to $18,622.05. What’s a loving pet parent to do? Do we make our choice of treatment based on dollars? I recently wrote about the sacrifices pet parents are making when faced with skyrocketing vet bills. Sometimes sacrifice is not enough…is there anywhere those folks can turn to for help?

Luckily the answer is yes.  There are groups that can and will help. One is Paws 4 a Cure.

Paws4Cure thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

The mission of Paws 4 A Cure is to provide financial assistance for canine and feline owners who cannot afford veterinary care for their beloved furry family members otherwise. I recently met Keri Goldman, President & Founder of Paws 4 a Cure and was impressed with her compassion and dedication. Keri started the organization in loving memory of her Chow Chow, Nikko, that went to the Rainbow Bridge on April 2, 2007 after bravely battling cancer. Nikko inspired her to form a group of like-minded individuals to assist other animals in need of veterinary care when their parents can not afford treatment. The group is entirely supported by donations. Keri and her volunteers tirelessly travel the country educating people about cancer in pets and raising funds to further their mission. Take time to visit their website and consider making a donation, and don’t hesitate to apply for assistance if you are in need.

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Another place to turn for help is The Dog and Cat Cancer Fund, an initiative of Zuke’s Pet Treats.  The Dog & Cat Cancer Fund helps fight canine and feline cancer by working directly with veterinarians to help needy families get treatment for their cats and dogs suffering from cancer. The Fund offers grants to help scientists conduct research into the next generation of life saving treatments. They promote prevention by raising awareness, understanding the risk factors, and encouraging early testing for canine and feline cancer.Please take a moment to Meet the Pets the Fund has helped and remember that for every bag of Zuke’s Treats you buy a donation is made to the Fund. You can  click here to view my video interview where Sarah Julian talks about this great program and how you can help #FueltheLove with Zuke’s.

Zuke’s is asking for your help with the new #FuelTheLove campaign. All you need to do is upload a video or picture of your pup “in action and loving life” to Twitter or Instagram, tag it with @ZukesPets and #FuelTheLove and they’ll donate $5 to the Dog and Cat Cancer Fund!

Dog and Cat Cancer FundWEB2 thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

Finally, this November, PetCareRx is teaming up with the National Canine Cancer Foundation to spread the word about National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. You can easily join their effort to raise $5,000 for the National Canine Cancer Foundation. For every Facebook page LIKE they receive, PetCareRX will donate 50 cents to the Foundation.

12 Millions Pets 2 thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

Today is the innaugeral “Give Cancer the Paw” blog hop, a quarterly event hosted by Peggy’s Pet Place and Pooch Smooches.  I hope you’ve this post found this helpful and that you’ll join us in the hop. You can write about whatever pet-cancer-related topic you want: a tribute, info on treatments or research, a cancer walk you participated in, or a support post for a furry family member or fuzzy friend.

cancer blog hop thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

I believe this information is important enough to keep sharing so I’m linking up with the FitDog Friday blog hop hosted by Slim Doggy

fitDogFriday thumb Give Cancer the Paw–The High Cost of Love

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  1. Great post, lots of good information here.

    I think you made the choice that was right for you and your dog. I hope if it ever arises, I’m brave enough to do the same.
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  2. I had a golden retriever who had liver cancer. We also chose to have her euthanized at age 11 without going through chemo, surgery or other expensive treatments. I wish pet owners did not have to face those difficult choices. Glad to hear there are some programs out there helping with the potential costs.
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  3. The cost breakdown is very eye-opening. Thanks for doing that. I am curious if my pet insurance would cover cancer treatment. At 11, if Chester was diagnosed with cancer, I am not sure that I would to the chemo and surgery option either. If my pet insurance didn’t cover it, I am not sure I would have a choice anyway. I couldn’t afford $20,000 to treat him. It sounds like you made the right choice for Murphy and you. His final year sounded very happy.
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  4. This is great info. Sadly, I do think cost plays a big part in the decision making. I didn’t have pet insurance when Cosmo was diagnosed with cancer, but now I do for Rocco.

    On the other hand, we still spent a good bit on Cosmo’s cancer treatment and I’m not sure it made any difference in the end. Sounds like you made a great choice with Murphy. Hopefully all the awareness spreading and research will result with even better treatment options :)
    Diane @ To Dog With Love recommends Hiking Fort Mountain with DogsMy Profile

  5. I’m still trying to get caught up with my reading/commenting from yesterday, so please forgive me for the delay.

    Beth, you made the right decision for Murphy. Don’t ever doubt yourself … no one else, other than your vet, knew Murphy as well as you did and therefore could not possibly have known what was right for her. She was a beautiful girl! I know you miss her; but thankfully you have Gizmo to help you through the more difficult days. Like I miss Kissy and have Callie, Shadow, and Ducky. We love all our dogs — past, present, and future — and we just do what we have to do to the best of our ability to keep them healthy and happy.

    Finally, thank you for all that wonderful information! I hope to God I never have to refer to it for any of my girls; but it’s comforting to know it’s out there! I’m going to bookmark all those websites as soon as I have a moment where I can just sit back and breathe.
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  6. Don’t worry you made the right decision. I have friends that have a dog that is battling the Big C, and they to have decided to not put him through surgery because surgery would be too hard on him for his really old age. Murphy’s story is so touching. I’m so glad that he got to live an extra year and half. He was so lucky to have you in his life. Lots of hugs, Francesca
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  7. Oh Gizmo, I’m sorry I missed this postie yesterday!! I blame Ma and her total disregard for MY BLOGGIE! It’s just wrong that I missed this most important post with all this FABulous info…someone’s gettin’ a nip in the hinnie…just sayin’!
    Thanks buddie!
    Ruby ♥
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  8. Thanks for this post Gizmo. I’m so glad that so much people join this groups to help and support peeps&pets. The costs in case your pet gets this diagnosis can stretch your budget to the limit. We lost our beloved Frosty through cancer and I hope together we will find a cure
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  9. What a brilliant post. I will pin it so I can share these resources for my vet tech daughter to pass on to her patients. Yes the costs can really mount up, and the pet community, in addition to helping with the costs, also needs to be compassionate and understanding when spending thousands of dollars (without much assurance of the result) is not feasible for loving pet parents.
    Of course you did right by Murphy. Quality of life for another year+ is a very loving decision.

  10. At the end of the day all any of us can do is what we think is best for our pets – you knew Murphy the best, I am confident that you have done the right thing.

    Sobering thoughts indeed!

  11. Wow, those numbers are staggering – I know several dogs with cancer or tumors but had no idea the chances of dogs getting cancer was so high. I also didn’t know about your story with Murphy – your child and I’m certain you made the best decision no matter what anyone else says. Thank you for this post – I have a preventative plan for Kayo that saves me a lot of money and also has provided Kayo with all the care she’s ever needed. But an insurance plan for more expensive treatments has been weighing on my mind.

    I did FueltheLove and was happy to get a response from Zuke’s on Twitter!
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  12. Thanks for all the information. However, I can’t get past Murphy and finally being able to put a face to your hunt test doggie. She looked so sweet. Thanks for sharing her picture and story. I am sorry you had to loose her to cancer. I guess it is bittersweet that she was able to do what she loved even on her last day.
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  13. Your post brings back memories, Gizmo. I had to let go of my dog because of a tumour, when she was almost 18 years. In your heart you know when it’s time, it’s like they tell you. Pawkiss.
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  14. Wow! Another year and a half of happy! Our first baby was 12 and a half and passed within a week. It was sudden and fierce and the vet recommended she cross the bridge. It’s different for every animal and family. Here’s to Gizmo being around for at least another decade!

  15. Excellent post! The statistics are rather depressing, but all the help there is out there is encouraging.
    I think you absolutely did the right thing with Murphy. A year and a half sounds like a great amount of time to get also with no treatment. Back then (1999 also) we treated our 6 year old for lymphoma and we only had her for another 3 months. I think lymphoma treatments have come a long way since then, from what I’ve read, and that’s encouraging too. For myself, the age of the pet is a huge factor in a decision of whether to treat or not.
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  16. It’s amazing that one can try to give an animal the best remaining time and then end it to prevent needless suffering. You mention that it is the path you believe Murph would have chosen for herself. I pity you poor humans, you’re not allowed to make that choice for humans-even for yourself.
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  17. Interesting facts and statistic and awesome programs you’re sharing today Gizmo. Like you, I chose the same sort of path for my own cat when she had breast cancer. I think the prices sound about right. Many times people choose a treatment plan that is mostly just supportive care, and not necessarily chemo or radiation. We did some chemo treatments at one hospital I worked at. I never did like those.
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  18. I totally support how you dealt with Murphy’s cancer! There are many options usually (holistic, radiation, chemo, surgery, supplements, etc.) but it all comes down to knowing your pet and knowing what they will handle best. There are NO WRONG ANSWERS because we make our decisions based on our love of our pet and what is best for them and the family. When our 12 yr old beagle had cancer we didn’t do the radiation they offered – she would have hated going for the treatments. But when our 15-month-old mix had cancer, we did everything we could. And, yes, it was super expensive. Oh, to have had the pet insurance for her! But we thought, ‘she’s young. what could go wrong?’ Boy, were we clueless. Now we have insurance for Rita. And probably nothing will happen to her – and that would be awesome! :)

    Thanks for sharing those resources and for joining our hop. I am definitely going to upload a photo of Rita for the Zukes campaign!
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  19. What a great organization. Cancer costs are staggering. I have insurance for 3 of my 5 dogs. The others were uninsurable. I made sure cancer was covered because I know I would pursue treatment and I want to be able to afford it. I do think everyone. Needs to make their win decision and no one is wrong to choose to pursue or not pursue treatment
    Urban hounds

  20. Sweet Murphy, and that is so wonderful that he enjoyed life to the end. It is a decision that may be different for every dog, and you did the best thing for Murphy. Thank you for all this helpful information too. Paws 4 a Cure looks like an amazing group. I wish we’d had the option of trying to save Brooks, but he started having seizures one day after his diagnosis, and the doctor couldn’t control them. This hop has really helped me learn more about canine cancer and it’s information I need to help keep Kelly and Ike as healthy as possible. Thank you for joining the hop.
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  21. Never regret the decision that you made.
    I love to see all the big businesses coming together to help such an important cause.

  22. Like Emma said you made the right decision. Before we had Mollie and Alfie and starting blogging, we never thought of animals getting cancer..I know DUMB lol.
    We have both insured as we could not afford the treatment if we didn’t. great post Gizmo xxoxxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  23. Excellent post! We all have a pet insurance cancer rider because we know those costs can skyrocket in a moment. Cancer is a nasty beast for any living creature. You did the right thing with your dog, letting her live another 1 1/2 yrs being happy. No one can judge you on that as you knew your dog best.
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