The Big C: Petplan Pet Insurance Offers Tips for Dealing with a Cancer Diagnosis

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Pet Cancer Awareness Month offers an opportunity for pet parents to become advocates for furry friends affected by cancer.

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Four-legged family members can now benefit from many of the same cancer treatments as people, from sophisticated surgeries to chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.

When it comes to cancer, the statistics are sobering: One in three dogs and one in four cats will develop some form in their lives, and cancer is responsible for half of all disease-related pet deaths every year. Claims data from no. 1- rated Petplan pet insurance further reveals that cancer was the second most claimed-for condition in 2012.

But this May, in honor of Pet Cancer Awareness Month, Petplan reminds pet parents that while cancer affects a vast number of four-legged family members, there is hope on the horizon.

“The growth in the field of veterinary oncology that has occurred over the last 10 to 20 years means that not only do we now have board-certified specialists who can help advise pet parents on the most up-to-date treatment options for their pets, but the treatment options themselves are more numerous and more widely available than ever,” says Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services at Petplan. “Four-legged family members can now benefit from many of the same cancer treatments as people, from sophisticated surgeries to chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant.”
In fact, veterinary oncology is in some ways paving the way for human medicine. Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture fully licensed a vaccine to treat canine oral melanoma—the first approved therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of cancer in either animals or humans. Such treatments do come at a cost, of course – Petplan claims data shows that reimbursements for cancer treatment averaged $1,200, with some payments exceeding $20,000.
While the options for treatment abound, pet parents may still find themselves overwhelmed at the prospect of coping with a cancer diagnosis. But there are ways pet parents can work with their vets to give their pets the best possible care.

  •     Learning by Heart: One of the best things a pet parent can do to help their pets through treatment is to become an educated advocate for their health. Petplan blogger and fetch! magazine contributor Dr. Nancy Kay, author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life, advises pet parents to memorize common cancer terms and learn as much as possible about their pet’s prognosis. The more informed pet parents feel at oncology appointments, the more confidently they will be able to listen to both their heads and their hearts in deciding on the right course for their pet – including when it’s time to let go. Read more of Dr. Kay’s advice for pet parents coping with cancer on Petplan’s Vets for Pets blog.
  •     Seek Out Support: For many pet parents, deciding how to treat a pet’s cancer often means listening to what both the head and the heart are saying. Supportive friends and family can help pet parents stay true to their own values and feelings, but some also choose to join pet cancer support groups. Ask your veterinarian to connect you with families of pets in similar situations, or search for an online support group for furry friends with cancer.
  •     Spring Into Action: At a time when many pet parents may feel helpless to help their pets, some choose to turn negative to a positive by lending a helping hand. There are many pet cancer nonprofit organizations that tirelessly work to help pets with cancer, often by funding research to find new treatments. Many welcome volunteers, donations and participation in fundraisers like pet cancer walks. Ask your vet about events in your area or look online to find a group that you would like to support.

To learn more about how to become an educated advocate for your pets – regardless of their diagnosis – visit

Top-rated pet insurance provider, Petplan, is the only pet insurance company to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America. In February 2013, Petplan pet insurance was at No. 34 on Forbes annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan’s fully customizable dog insurance and cat insurance policies provide coverage for all hereditary and congenital conditions for the life of the pet as standard, and meet the coverage requirements and budget for pets of all/any age. Petplan pet insurance policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group is rated A+ by A.M. Best (2011). For information, about Petplan pet insurance, visit, read the Petplan “Vets for Pets” Blog, or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Bill Tierney
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