Cancer in Dogs – Chemotherapy – Ramius’s Journey Part VI

Cancer in Dogs – A Retrospective of our Beloved Samoyed Ramius’s Battle with Cancer

In This Entry – Chemotherapy

Ramius chillin'. Chemotherapy? No problem...

Ramius chillin’. Chemotherapy? No problem…

Thank you for reading our continuing series about cancer in dogs, and our beloved Samoyed Ramius’s long journey with the disease, which started in the summer of 2014 and lasted until he passed away in January, 2016.

Hope you’ve been enjoying our series so far. When we last left you in Part V, we discussed Ramius’s Radiation Treatments. Today I want to talk about his chemotherapy sessions. Chemotherapy is a very scary word right? You don’t want to hear that your pet (or you) will have to go through something like that.

But if you’ve been reading along in the series, you already know we knew this would be the next step. After Ramius had successfully completed his 20 (yes 20!) radiation treatments, chemotherapy was to follow.

Side Effects

One of the big questions you’ll probably have if your Samoyed, or whatever kind of dog you have, is diagnosed with cancer and has to undergo chemotherapy will probably involve the side effects. We probably all know about the side effects chemo has in humans, and we wonder how, or if, it will affect our pooch.

Now again, I’m not a veterinarian, so be sure to discuss this topic with your vet when talking about whether chemotherapy is appropriate for your fur baby. But generally speaking, and certainly for us, the side effects for Ramius were very minor.

There was no hair loss or anything like that. He seemed to handle each of the 4 treatments very well, and maintained a good quality of life throughout the sessions. And of course, that’s very important right? We want our pet to have the best quality of life possible as they endure these medical procedures.

The only sort of side effect Ramius experienced is a bit of a disturbance with his gastrointestinal track. It would seem like a few days after each treatment he’d have a touch of diarrhea and was a touch sluggish. But within a day or two of onset, that cleared back up. All in all, it really was no big deal.

So the point is, don’t let the potential side effects of chemotherapy for your dog worry you. They’re generally very mild, so just be sure to discuss them with the veterinary cancer specialist. Also, you can also check out this article for more information about chemotherapy in pets.

Chemo vs. Radiation

If you’ve been reading our series, you know that for Ramius’s radiation treatments, there were a total of 20 and they happened every single day (other than weekends). His chemotherapy was very different. Ramius only needed a total of 4 chemotherapy treatments and they happened every few weeks or so.

For both radiation and chemotherapy, Ramius went to MetVed Chicago. His radiation specialist was Dr. Jayme Looper, but for chemo, it was Dr. Jacquelyn Smith. You may remember it was Dr. Smith who gave us our initial consult about Ramius so we were happy to be in her hands.

Ramius’s chemotherapy was given intravenously which is obviously another difference between that and radiation. However, like radiation, the treatments didn’t take very long. They were a bit longer, but generally, we’d wait for Ramius in the waiting room just like with his radiation. It saved us making so many trips back and forth to the vet’s office. Plus, we wanted Ramius to see our familiar faces when he came out of the room to ease his stress.

Unlike radiation, chemotherapy is administered without anesthesia, so Ramius wouldn’t exit the room woozy. He was pretty much just the same way he was when he went in.

Ramius with his blue bandage.

Ramius with his green bandage.

Since chemotherapy was given intravenously, your pup will probably have a little bandage on one of his legs for a few days. Here’s a picture of Ramius with his green bandage. You can tell by the ever present smile on his face that he was in no pain.

Cost of Chemo – Protect Yourself!

As readers of this retrospective series, and this blog, know well, I’m a big proponent of getting health insurance for your pet. To me, it’s as much of a no-brainer as getting health insurance for yourself and your family. You wouldn’t want your children to go without health insurance right? Same goes for your fur baby.

If you ever get the terrible news that your dog has a horrible disease like cancer, it’s devastating. Your first instinct will probably be to do everything you can to help them. That was certainly my first instinct. But financially, it can be very difficult for a lot of people, and nearly impossible without good pet health insurance.

I was just looking up some old invoices of Ramius’s chemotherapy (what a fun way to spend a morning right?), and each invoice was right around $750. Now, he had 4 treatments total, so there’s $3K right there.

Fortunately, we had Healthy Paws Pet Insurance to protect Ramius and Sacha. So of that $3K bill, they paid 90% of it. That’s $2,700 folks. And the checks get sent right to you, the pet parent, not the veterinary office. And those checks arrive promptly, usually within a week after you submit your claim form online.

And mind you, that’s just the cost of chemotherapy! It doesn’t include all of Ramius’s other treatments for radiation, surgeries, insulin (he was diabetic), physical therapy (we’ll talk more about that next time) or pain medications. We’ve never added up how much it would’ve cost us if we had to pay for Ramius’s medical care completely out of pocket; frankly we’ve been too scared. But it had to be somewhere around $50,000 or $60,000.

I don’t care how financially sound you are, that’s a lot of money!

I urge all of you with dogs or cats to please consider getting Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for your pet. If you’ve haven’t seen it, I’ve written a thorough review of Healthy Paws which you can read by clicking on the link below.

==>CLICK HERE for my review of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance<===

Next Steps

Ramius’s 4 chemotherapy sessions happened once about every 3 weeks or so. So even though it was just 4 treatments, it took about 3 months to get them completed.

But that was it. After Ramius’s surgeries, radiation, and finally chemotherapy, that concluded his treatment. For now. The next step was to wait a few months so he could be tested again to see if his cancer was finally eradicated. But until that time, these procedures had left Ramius with much less mobility and it was hard for him to walk.

So now, after all of this, we had to take him to physical therapy. That will be the subject of Part VII in our continuing series which is now live! Please CLICK HERE to read the post.

If you’ve been enjoying our series, please share it with any pet owners you know. Especially any pet parents that are dealing with a fur baby battling cancer.

And if you have, or have had, a dog with cancer and you’d like to share your experiences, please leave us a comment. Remember, you’re not alone. We’ll be sure to get back to you.

Thank you for reading!

12 thoughts on “Cancer in Dogs – Chemotherapy – Ramius’s Journey Part VI

  1. Summerly

    I am so sorry to hear that your dog had cancer and both you and him had to go through all that. I have had a few dogs throughout the years, with some health issues, but never cancer, I can’t imagine. It is interesting to know that chemo doesn’t affect them like it does humans, that is some relief I guess. And pet insurance is important…but I have not gotten any before. I know I should and that it would help a lot in times like these. But I thought I heard once that if your pet goes for surgery for something, then after the fact you can’t get insurance for your pet anymore, if you didn’t have it before. Do you know if this is true?

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Hi Summerly. Thanks for commenting. Regarding your question, I know that’s not true with Healthy Paws. In that sense, it works sort of like regular health insurance with pre-existing conditions. So say your dog had surgery on his ear to fix something with his hearing or something like that. That wouldn’t be covered after the fact. But if after you get covered, your dog requires surgery to have a tumor removed that wasn’t related to the ear, that would. Make sense?

      I always encourage everybody to ask these sorts of questions with the insurer before you sign up. Healthy Paws is great and you can do a lot of this online and it’s always free to get a quote. If you click here and purchase a policy you’ll receive 10% off.

      If you do decide to purchase a policy, please come back and tell us about your experience.

      Reply
  2. Irvie

    Hi Mike,

    I read your last installment on Ramius’s radiation treatments so I was thrilled to be able to continue with his treatments. It sounds like chemo was easier on him, but you stated that he needed physical therapy to help him walk again. Tough little guy!

    I didn’t know that there was even a treatment for cancer in dogs, and it’s interesting that it’s the same as with people. So if that’s the same, I wonder about alternative therapies?

    We have two dogs. I never considered pet insurance but I can certainly see the advantages!

    Thanks for the great info!

    Irvie

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Ramius sure was a tough little guy, no doubt about that! I hope you will consider getting pet health insurance. I feel it’s so important, especially for somebody like you that has multiple dogs.

      I would urge you to visit Healthy Paws and just get a quote. They’re very affordable and the protection you’ll get is terrific. It takes less than a minute to get a quote for your pets and they even offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

      Plus, if you click on this link here and make a purchase, you’ll Save 10% off of your policy.

      Really, you’ve got nothing to lose. I hope you’ll consider them for your dogs and for your own peace of mind. Thanks for the comment Irvie!

      Reply
  3. Rosa

    H Mike,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your furry baby. It is such a tragic to lose someone you love so much including your pets. It’s no different! It took me awhile to over the loss of my Mittens, my cat. Fortunately, it sounds like your Ramius was not going through too much difficulty with the treatments like most people do. Thank you for sharing your post. Bless you!

    Reply
  4. Melissa

    That is great that you had insurance on Him! Yes, we really take a chance with our pets, when we don’t have insurance, not knowing if something serious will happen to them then we are left with the Bill! Is pet insurance like our health insurance in that you pay a Co pay when you visit a Dr?

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Thanks Melissa. I can’t speak for all pet insurance policies, but with Healthy Paws, no there is no copay. There is a deductible you must meet, and then a reimbursement rate of either 90%, 80%, or 70%. You get to choose the deductible and reimbursement level and that affects your cost. We go with $250 deductible and a 90% reimbursement level so we have awesome coverage. It costs us less than $50/month for Sacha so it’s obviously very affordable.

      I’d urge you to check our Healthy Paws. And if you do you can Save 10% on your policy if you click here.

      Reply
  5. Matt's Mom

    Wow, I am so sorry to hear about Ramiuss’ cancer. I bet that it has been a trying time. I know, I have two dogs and if they became sick in anyway, I would be devastated. I do have pet insurance for both of them just in case there are any problems and they need care. I am just glad that mine little guys are well and happy.

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Yes, losing a dog to cancer is a horrible ordeal. And we’ve lost two, Ramius, and his sister Zoya. But he handled his chemotherapy treatments very well which extended his life by a long time.

      Reply
  6. Daniella

    Hi Mike,

    First of all, I am sorry to hear that your dog has been through this nightmare. I have two dogs, and I never thought of taking out insurance for them. But now that I read your article, I will surely take some precautions and see how I can get good deals for pet insurance.

    I hope that my dogs will be in a good health for a long time:) However, thank you very much for this helpful blog!

    Reply
    1. Mike Post author

      Thank you Daniella. It is tough, we miss our sweet Ramius every day. But yes, I hope you will check into getting Healthy Paws Pet Insurance for your beloved pups.

      Reply

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