How Much Do Dog Cancer Treatments Cost?

Dog cancer can be one of the most terrifying events that could happen to you as a pet parent. True enough, cancer has been identified as the leading cause of death in dogs over 10 years old.

Reportedly, the top 5 dog cancers are known to be the following: mast cell tumors, melanoma, lymphoma, bone cancer, and hemangiosarcoma. 

These cancerous tumors can grow in any part of a dog’s body but early detection is the key towards treatment and cure.

sick dog coughing

Knowledge and treatment of dog cancer have been intensively researched over the course of time. Thus, the survival rate has also increased. 

Cost of Diagnosis

Since it is almost impossible to diagnose canine cancer by the physical signs or symptoms alone, a veterinarian oncologist must be consulted. Scheduling regular check-ups guarantees that if your dog has cancer, it will be detected and treated as early as possible.

A common initial sign of canine cancer is an unusual lump anywhere in the dog’s body. Various diagnostic procedures will be ordered to examine this growth.

According to an oncologist, Dr. Kim Freeman of Lyphoma.com, different diagnostic tests’ price ranges from $200-$1,200 and up.

The prices depend on which test is necessary for your dog’s case or your choice which one to use. For example, there are cases that a fine needle aspirate and related lab work that cost $200-$300 are enough to bring out a result.

Meanwhile, cases that require biopsy and related lab work can cost $500-$600. Price can shoot up to $1,200 or more if follow-up staging x-rays, blood works, and other related lab works are necessary.

  • X-Ray – This method involving electromagnetic radiation is used for getting a clear view of dense parts of the body like bones; also the chest and digestive tract. Lakeside Veterinary Hospital in Illinois charges $60 to $250 for a digital x-ray.
  • Ultrasound – After x-rays, an ultrasound is the second most popular diagnostic tool for canine cancer. The use of soundwaves aid in the real-time examination of the dog’s internal tissues. This procedure also helps in seeing organs from different angles, as well as organ function and blood flow that x-rays cannot provide. An ultrasound at Tequesta Veterinary Clinic in Florida will cost you around $40 to $65. Abdominal ultrasound costs $200 to $300.
  • CT Scan – To show tissue density variations and assess more intricate body parts, a CT scan may be ordered by the veterinarian. Also known as an Ocat scan, this computer-enhanced x-ray procedure is used to detect structural changes deep within the body; including tumors. Royal Vista Vets in Colorado offers CT scan with a price range of $650 to $1,300 depending on the site and the dog’s weight and $275 for an additional site.
  • MRI ­­- The latest diagnostic imaging technique used to detect canine cancer is the MRI or magnetic resonance imaging. Using a strong magnetic field, the MRI machine will give out comprehensive anatomic images of the dog’s scanned body part. It is mostly used to get a proper look at the brain and spine and to recognize subtle pathology that does not show up in simpler scans. Getting a scan at the University of Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC) would require a payment of $193 to $380, while analysis of the results costs around $178 to $412.
  • Biopsy – To obtain the most conclusive diagnosis, a biopsy is the best option. Under general anesthesia, a piece of the tumor will be removed from the dog and sent to a veterinary pathologist. The cells and tissues of the sample will be examined on a microscope. Results will show if a tumor is benign or malignant and will determine your next step. A biopsy costs $180 at Jarrettsville Veterinary Center in Maryland, or $145 to $325 at UCCC.

Treatment Costs for Canine Cancers

There are conventional options of cancer treatment;  surgery(to remove the tumor), chemotherapy(to kill the cancer), and radiation(to kill the tumor). A trained health care professional will create a diagnostic and treatment plan according to your dog’s case and your family’s financial capacity.

Your dog’s case such as age and general health, type of tumor, biological behavior of the tumor, and the stage of the cancer are then carefully considered. Every dog’s case is typically unique from the other and so with the cost. 

Standard physical exams alone cost at least $50, while inpatient care is $40. For emergency services, urgent care and a specialist consultation would amount to $115.

Here are some options you and your veterinarian might consider:

  • Surgery

Surgery is by far the treatment of choice to date and the procedure’s price greatly varies from one dog’s case to another. For one, dog mammary tumor removal costs around $1,000 and up while other types can be as high as $12,000.

As an example, a dog owner has shared in a forum (naturaldoghealthremedies.com) in September, 2017 that she needed $5,000 for the surgery of her dog’s thyroid cancer.

Countryside Animal Hospital in Maryland offers general tumor removal from $165, including radical mastectomy for breast cancer at $455.

Sun-Surf Animal Hospital in Florida also has tumor mass removal services starting at $150.

Following a standard tumor removal surgery, your dog will take 10-14 days to recover. At which time, your dog should wear a cone to prevent it from licking the wound. Running and roughhousing are also not allowed to avoid the stitches from popping out. 

If the cancer has already spread or your dog is weak and cannot handle such an intensive procedure, then a surgery might not be the right path for you.

  • Chemo

For more aggressive types of cancer, including those that metastasized or those without a specific location (i.e. blood and lymph), chemotherapy is the typical route. Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells in the system and slow disease progression. These medications can be given orally, intravenously, or intratumorally.

Your dog may also be given chemotherapy prior to a tumor removal surgery to help reduce the size of the tumor; or after the surgery to ensure that there are no remaining or residual cancer cells.

Oral chemotherapy drugs such as Leukeran (chlorambucil) given for leukemia and lymphoma is priced at $40 for 25 tablets, Palladia (toceranib phosphate) for mast cell tumors is $5 per tablet, generic prednisone for various cancer types is $0.25 per tablet.

According to Dr. Freeman, the cost of chemo for dogs can be as little as $1,000 for certain smaller treatments up to $5,000-$7,000 range for more complex procedures.

For example, in the same forum, another dog owner shared that an oncologist price for chemotherapy is $4,000 for a tumor. The statement added that a vet offered instead to administer chemotherapy at $130 per treatment.

A common misconception is that chemotherapy will make your dog go bald and seem sicker. Unlike humans, dogs do not have as severe adverse reactions to chemotherapy. There is minimal to no hair thinning and only temporary diarrhea or vomiting.

  • Radiation

If long-term tumor control is your goal, radiation therapy is usually the best idea. Cancer cells DNA’s are exposed to ionizing radiation which results in cell death.

Cancer cells are constantly dividing. Radiation therapy will thwart or at least slow the process and control tumor growth.

Conventional radiation therapy may be performed in place of chemotherapy following tumor removal. The procedure requires 15 to 21 sessions over 3 to 7 weeks.

Dog radiation therapy price is estimated between $750 and $7,500 for the entire duration of treatment.

NC State Veterinary Hospital charges $4,700 to $5,300 for three sessions of stereotactic radiosurgery against bone cancer and $6,500 and $7,500 for 20 sessions of full-course radiation therapy.

A course of stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) consisting of 1-3 treatments typically administered over 1-5 weekdays can cost $5,500 to $6,500. Lastly, a course radiation therapy delivered with intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for 18-20 daily treatments costs $6,000 to $7,500.

Immediate side effects of radiation include superficial skin and mucous membrane irritation. Hair loss is common but only occurs in the treatment area and typically regrows.

Eyes and ears are more sensitive when exposed to radiation and may produce severe adverse reactions.

To prevent these untoward events, the veterinarian will need to accurately calculate the amount of radiation being given to each dog. It is also recommended to spread out the dosage over weeks and give it in small but effective amounts.

What are Included

Basically, the total cost of dog cancer treatment already includes the following: hospitalization, anesthesia, the entire duration of the treatment procedure and labor, and few times, the aftercare medication.

vet holding puppy

Additional Costs for Dog Cancer Treatment

After a treatment’s procedure, the process of post-operative care comes up in hope for a betterment and cure. Along with these are the following costs that you may have to deal with:

  • Food Cost

Post-surgery diet that can be different from the usual nutrition is a vital factor so that your dog can recover as soon as possible. You may feed a Canine Recovery Food that costs around $60. A single can may last for a week depending on the size of your dog. Always refer to the vet for the proper diet.

  • Supplement Cost

Dog cancer supplements can be a good holistic care for your dog since they can slow down the growth of cancer and boost immune system. Price ranges from $25 per month for cheaper supplements up to $100-$200 per month for certain expensive variety.

There are also packages of dog cancer supplements that consist a variety of content combinations. Each package may cost from $147 to $397 good for months.

  • Hygiene Cost

Bringing your wounded furry friend home means a duty to bring forth healing to the wound. A 250ml saline solution that cost $13 is good for washing the wound clean. Alternatively, warm water and a towel can be good enough.

  • Medical Cost

Post-operative care for your dog means successive trips to the vet. As of now, a standard cost of an office visit and physical examination ranges from $45 to $50 per appointment.

Medications also have a major role in your dog’s recovery. Therefore, expect that you’ll be spending an average cost of $30 to $250 per month.

  • Accessories

To avoid your dog from infecting the wound by constantly licking it, you may have to purchase an Elizabethan collar that can cost from $6 to $50. These protective collars hinder your dog from causing further damage to the wound.

Factors Affecting Dog Cancer Treatments Price

There is a corresponding average price for every type of dog cancer treatment but some factors can still determine its actual amount. The location, the type or the severity of cancer mostly affect it, among other factors.

The cost of surgery, for example, can be determined by the surgical time and the intricacy of the surgery. The shorter and the easier the surgery is, the cheaper the cost.

Chemotherapy treatment uses chemical agents (e.g. drugs) to treat or control cancer. In this case, the quantity and the kinds of drugs being administered can affect the entire cost.

Also, the size of your dog can also be a factor since bigger dogs require larger amounts of drugs. Lastly, the duration of treatment necessary in the case of your dog can also be a contributing factor to the entire amount of chemotherapy cost.

Due to the cost of equipment and the complexity of the process, radiation therapy is typically more expensive. This is because of the malignancy of cancer and the number of sessions necessary for remission.

Take note that your location also plays a role in the variety of cost. For example, Beverly Hills Veterinaries usually charges more than the veterinaries from Indiana. Additionally, AAHA-accredited clinics are likely more expensive since they must meet certain standards.

Tips on How to Pay for Dog Cancer Treatment

  • Pet Health Insurance

The advancement of dog treatments which technically means higher vet bills today is prompting enough for pet owners to acquire pet health insurance. Pets live longer these days and their longevity has a price tag.

Just like human insurances, pet insurance gives financial assistance for accident or illness expenses. The only difference is, pet insurance companies pay after you’ve submitted the claim; therefore, you have to pay the bills with your own money first.

  • Veterinary Financing

There are vet clinics that offer veterinary financing options. These allow you to pay your bills gradually through a payment plan. Although this option could mean debt, the interest rate is lower than your credit cards’.

  • Cash or Credit Card

These are perhaps the most common and upfront way of paying your vet bills if no better options left. Reportedly, 90% of pet owners use credit cards for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

  • Charities and Crowdfunding

If your access to money is downright impossible, then charities and crowdfunding could be the last and best option left. Some people are very supportive morally and financially of dog concerns.