What Dog Owners Think About Vet Care for Cancer in Dogs


At least you know you’re not alone. 30 million American has experienced a dog with cancer over the past 10 years and identification of cancer in dogs appears to be on the rise (coinciding with people).

Gallup recently partnered with Jaguar Health and the Take C.H.A.R.G.E. (Canine Health and Registry Exchange) coalition to contribute to the much-needed effort to address the impacts of canine cancer. As part of this effort, Gallup conducted the first large-scale nationally representative study to understand Americans’ experiences with canine cancer — the Take C.H.A.R.G.E. Canine Cancer Survey.

According to the survey, over 90 percent of dog owners indicate that their dog contributes substantially to their wellbeing and that they feel happier or more relaxed when their dog is around. This result is no surprise and is consistent with multiple other polls.

How connected are dogs with their families? Well, whenever a family dog is suffering from the effects of cancer, it takes a toll on the entire family’s wellbeing. Dog owners who report having had a dog with cancer say they felt depressed (58 percent) or stressed (63 person) “a lot” during the experience, and nearly one in three report a negative impact on their own quality of life.

Over a third of dogs (39 percent) of those treated are reported in the survey to have been cured or in remission. Most people (75 percent t of respondents) who chose to have their dog treated report being satisfied or very satisfied with their treatment experience. This means people can and do have a good care experience even when the outcome is not ideal.

Although most dog owners report being satisfied with their experience to some degree, this still leaves one in four owners who express being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their care.

When it comes to improving canine cancer care, the study indicates critical insights for focusing on new initiatives:

The most important factor after a dog is diagnosed with cancer is communication. Some veterinarians want to avoid “information overload,” or there’s just insufficient time to discuss details. Or a veterinarian or technician has communicated but the perception by the pet parent is that there’s not been information. Or some veterinary professionals excel at diagnosing and treating, but have issues with communication What’s most important that the explanation for a communication gap doesn’t matter. Most dog parents want to hear details and to be communicated with so they can understand their dog’s cancer, prognosis and treatment in easily understood language.  As a result, only 30 percent of dog owners who have sought care strongly agree that they knew what to expect during their dog’s treatment. All others report missing critical information about treatment options and potential side effects.

Of course, dog parents are concerned about their dog’s ability to withstand treatment while maintaining quality of life. People’s ability to manage their dog’s cancer treatment side effects is the biggest predictor of dog owners’ wellbeing during the treatment process. Dog owners do, by and large, feel confident that their veterinarian cares about their dog’s comfort and quality of life. Even so, it remains a challenge. Dog owners report many difficult symptoms of cancer as well as uncomfortable side effects from treatment with only 22 percent strongly agreeing that they were able to effectively manage those side effects experienced by their dog during treatment.

Over 80 percent of dog owners report having no knowledge regarding mental help support available to people confronted with canine cancer; even among those who had previously experienced canine cancer.