Questions to Ask Your Vet About Dog Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is overwhelming and confusing. Knowing which questions to ask your vet about dog cancer is a great first step. Asking the right questions will help you understand all the options so you can make the best decisions you can for you and your dog. Looking back, you will know you did the best you could.

Key Takeaways

  • Ask your veterinarian about the type of cancer your dog has, how it was diagnosed, and what diagnostic tests have been or are available.
  • Veterinarians use many tools and diagnostics to determine if a dog has cancer, from physical exams to blood work to imaging tests and more. Make sure you ask how your veterinarian came to their diagnosis.
  • Depending upon the cancer diagnosis and the treatments used, dogs can live well and for a relatively long time with cancer. Asking lots of questions upfront will help you understand the situation you and your dog is in.
  • Discuss the treatment options available, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and non-conventional treatments, and ask questions about the risks, benefits, and costs associated with each.
  • A great question to ask your veterinarian about every option they give you is how much good life quality time do you think this treatment will give my dog?

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!

There are so many questions to ask your vet about dog cancer, and most of them will probably occur to you long after you leave the office. Ideally, your veterinary team will cover all the information you need at each stage, but it is always best to get clarification when needed and to ask as many questions as needed to get a thorough understanding of what you and your dog are facing.

You are your dog’s advocate, and you can only decide what is best for your unique situation and individual dog if you are well informed.

Below are questions to ask about things like diagnosis, pain, surgery, and other important topics.

These lists are in no way exhaustive and not all of these questions will be important to you or applicable your situation, but hopefully, they provide you with a guide so you can make these tough decisions with as much information as possible.

Any time you are confused or uncertain, it is absolutely ok to ask questions! And remember, if a veterinarian asks another member of their staff to answer your questions for you, it’s not because they don’t care. They may be in a tough surgery, or handling an emergency. The other staff members may be better at explaining things to dog lovers, or may have been the person who has been handling your dog the most. You can always ask the staff member to confirm an answer directly with the veterinarian if they can’t personally come to the phone or into the exam room.

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Dog Cancer Diagnosis

If your veterinarian suspects your dog has cancer, getting a definitive diagnosis is essential for understanding your treatment options and the prognosis. Without knowing what type of cancer you are dealing with, it’s tough to know how to treat.

There are so many different diagnostic tests and processes for diagnosing cancer, it can be hard to understand what is most important and why. To better understand your dog’s diagnosis, here are some questions that may be helpful to ask your veterinarian:

  • What type of cancer does my dog have? How did you make the diagnosis?
  • What tests have you run, and what other tests are available?
  • Are there more advanced testing options that would be helpful?
  • What is the value of the information gained from this test you want to run? Will it tell us something new?
  • Will this test change the treatment plan for my dog?
  • Will this test change the prognosis or expected outcome?
  • Where can I find more information about this type of cancer?
  • Are there any risks of performing this test on my dog?

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Dog Cancer Treatments

Once a diagnosis is reached, the next step is to discuss treatment options. These can also be confusing because there are often a variety of options, each with its own risks and benefits. There is rarely only one treatment option to pursue and sometimes a combination of treatments is the most beneficial. Viable treatment options will differ between families too, as everyone’s situation and threshold for cancer care is unique.

The following questions may help you decide which treatment(s) are best for you and your dog:


  • Is surgery an option or is it recommended?
  • If surgery is an option, how long is the recovery period and what do I need to prepare for?
  • Is surgery curative or palliative?
  • How much does the surgery and follow-up care cost?
  • How will this surgery affect my dog’s quality of life?
  • Will my dog need other treatments after the surgery?
  • What do I need to do to prepare for surgery?
  • How long will my dog need to be in the hospital after surgery?
  • What are the most common complications with this surgery?
  • How much good quality time do you think using this treatment will give me with my dog?


  • Is chemotherapy an option or is it recommended?
  • What chemotherapy protocols are effective for this type of cancer (specific drugs, single or multiple drugs, is metronomic therapy an option)?
  • What are the common side effects and how can I be prepared for these?
  • Is chemotherapy curative or palliative?
  • How often will my dog need treatment?
  • How will this affect my dog’s quality of life?
  • Are these drugs dangerous to me or my family? Will I need any special equipment to handle medications at home or to clean up after my dog (latex gloves, etc.)?
  • What is the cost per treatment and expected total cost?
  • How much good quality time do you think using this treatment will give me with my dog?


  • Is radiation an option or is it recommended?
  • Is radiation curative or palliative?
  • What are the common side effects?
  • How often does my dog need treatment?
  • How will this affect my dog’s quality of life?
  • Are radiation treatments painful?
  • What is the cost per treatment and expected total cost?
  • How much good quality time do you think using this treatment will give me with my dog?

Other Treatments

  • Are there non-conventional treatments that can help this type of cancer or improve my dog’s quality of life (such as acupuncture, rehabilitation, or supplements)?
  • Are there likely to be additional treatments needed for managing side-effects of conventional treatments?
  • Should I make any changes to my dog’s diet?
  • How much good quality time do you think using this treatment will give me with my dog?

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Dog Cancer Pain Management

One of the biggest concerns of most dog guardians is whether their dog is in pain. Signs of pain in dogs are well documented but may easily be confused with other behaviors. Asking your veterinary team more about your dog’s pain level can help you be prepared to address it if needed. Some questions to ask include:

  • How do I know if my dog is in pain?
  • Is this cancer likely to cause pain?
  • What are the options for treating my dog’s pain?
  • Are any of the treatments potentially painful? Can we prevent that pain from occurring?
  • If my dog’s pain becomes worse than usual, what do I do?
  • Will pain medications interfere with cancer treatments or vice versa?
  • What are the non-medication options for managing pain?

Questions to Ask Your Vet About Your Working Relationship

Knowing what to expect from your veterinary team can play a huge role in maintaining a good working relationship and having the best possible outcome. Understanding their availability, how they share information with you, and what your financial obligations are may provide some additional peace of mind during this stressful time. Some important questions for your veterinary team may include:


  • Which team members will I see on each visit? Will they be the same each time, or will I frequently see different doctors?
  • What is the best way to contact your team with questions or concerns (email, phone, etc.)?
  • Do you do telehealth appointments?
  • When should I expect to hear from you regarding test results, etc.?
  • Can I reach your team outside of regular business hours?


Other Questions

Do you have additional ideas for questions to ask your vet about dog cancer? Tell us, so we can add them to this list and help future dog lovers just like you.


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