The Norman Transcript

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April 4, 2013

Dignity of an old, afflicted dog

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Your story of Loki reminds me of a captive kit fox who deposited morsels of food around his cage mate who had died suddenly. As with humans, saving food can be a token of affection. For Loki, perhaps not gobbling the food he found in the street but bringing it home to eat in a civilized manner was a tribute to his preferred existence under your roof.

Dear Dr. Fox: I just lost my third dog to cancer. They were all about 10 years old. They all had a sudden onset of acute symptoms, followed closely with euthanasia after finding metastatic disease.

By the time the symptoms appear, it is usually too late for treatment. My heart is breaking for this most recent loss.

Is there any clinical way to prevent this?

— K.W., Tacoma Park, Md.

Dear K.W.: My sympathies go out to you and all those people in your situation, where cancer is discovered in a beloved animal and it has spread so much that nothing can be done.

Part of the problem is that it is not always easy to know when an animal is in pain or not felling well. Whenever in doubt, go to the veterinarian. Also go to the veterinarian every six to nine months for a checkup when you have an animal in the “old age” category and annually up to the end of middle age, which can be around 6 or 7 for some breeds and 9 or 10 for others.

Going in on this schedule, and not just when the animal needs shots or seems ill, can lead to early detection of cancer, which means that effective treatment would be better assured.

Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

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