Cancer, as in people, is one of the most frequently diagnosed conditions in pets – especially in dogs. Although cancer isn’t as common in cats as in dogs, cancers in cats are often malignant.

Treatment of cancer in pets often includes one or more of the following – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy (vaccines). Some of the newer techniques like Cyberknife radiation treatment and vaccines for certain types of cancer are making the treatment of cancer more tolerable, prolonging pet’s lives and improving their quality of life.

I have a patient that has oral malignant melanoma. His owners rejected radical surgery to remove part of his jaw and instead opted for a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and a melanoma vaccine. The tumor is still present in the mouth, but it is much smaller. The cancer also spread to the lungs (metastasis), but it has been held in check by the vaccine. According to the owners, his quality of life is excellent. His oncologist, Dr. Lorin Hillman at Memphis Veterinary Specialists, has been pleasantly surprised by his response to treatment. Here’s some information about the vaccine.

Here’s some information about a vaccine being used to treat osteosarcoma and perhaps other cancers.

I recently attended a meeting about cancer in pets where Dr. Hillman talked about the traditional treatments as well as newer treatments being used and even some that are in the clinical trial phase but hopefully will be more widely available soon. She said that while these new treatments show promise, they are expensive and the cost may be prohibitive for many pet owners. 

Clients who are willing to go the extra mile have a close attachment to their pet and consider the pet a member of their family. My clients whose dog has oral melanoma have made multiple visits to the local specialty hospital for rechecks including blood tests and x-rays, melanoma vaccine administration, and made multiple 7-hour trips to Auburn’s Veterinary School for radiation treatment. These clients were not only willing, but fortunately were financially able to pay for the care needed to treat their pet for this cancer.  

However, I believe there are many clients who share a similar attachment to their pet and consider the pet a member of the family and would be willing to go the extra mile to treat their pet for cancer, but they aren’t financially able to do so. Having their pet insured would allow them to bridge that gap between the treatment their pet needs and what they can afford.

These owners are grateful that their pet was insured when he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer because it allowed them to take advantage of Cyberknife therapy.



Dr. Darlene Cook owns a small animal practice in Minnesota. Her dog was diagnosed with bone cancer and developed complications while undergoing traditional radiation treatment. A representative of the pet insurance company that insured the pet recommended she investigate Cyberknife therapy. Her dog was able to tolerate the much shorter treatment regimen with perhaps an even better outcome. Listen as she tells the story:

Darlene Cook – Cyberknife for Cancer


Although most cancers occur in middle-aged to older pets, some can occur in young pets. I urge you to get pet insurance now for your pet and be prepared should an unexpected and costly illness occur in your pet – especially cancer.