Battling canine cancer

Local News

It often time starts as a lump, but that cancerous tumor can change the life of any pet.

Dr. Gerald Ramsdell of North East Animal Hospital says unfortunately veterinarians see cancer frequently especially in breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Dobermen and Boxers. He says one study estimates each vet sees between two to three cases per week. Ramsdell says cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs older than two.

Doctors say all types of cancers are different. They can be treated similarly to humans with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Some are too far along that they truly can’t be treated at all.

Cindy Kimes of Erie says nothing would stand in her way as far as cancer treatment for her dog. Kimes doesn’t have any children, so her 13-year-old standard poodle Briley is her child, she says.

For a decade, Kimes has been doing everything she can to prolong Briley’s life who has cancer in his toes. He’s been battling the disease since he was three. Briley has lost six of his toes over the years, only one foot still has all of them remaining, but Kimes says Balanced Veterinary Rehabilitation really helps him out.

Briley has been carried into rehab and walked out a half hour later, thanks to Dr. Christine Nestor.  Nestor puts Briley through water and exercise therapy to get him back on his feet.

A half hour physical therapy treatment at Balance Veterinary Rehabilitation costs a pet owner between $70 and $90, Nestor says. But between CT scans, chemotherapy drugs and blood work, vets say pet owners could see overall treatment costing anywhere between $1,200 and $2,500.

Kimes turned to pet insurance for Briley. Pet insurance companies say only about 1% to 2% of pet owners in the U.S. have insurance, but that the number is growing. Sara Radak from Embrace Pet Insurance says many people still don’t know pet insurance exists.

It works like this. A pet owner chooses the type of coverage they want by deciding their deductible and reimbursement percentage. Once they reach that deductible, they are reimbursed for their pet’s treatments. Pet insurance never covers the bills upfront.

As for Briley, he continues to battle the cancer still today, and his pet insurance foots most of his bills.

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