When we face the diagnosis of cancer in a beloved pet it is even more difficult, for we must make important and life changing decisions for our animal friends that rely totally on our own judgments for their well-being. We have experienced their love as unconditional, and we seek through our own decision making process to provide our pets with the highest quality and dignity of life which we know they deserve. Seeking the most appropriate care for these wonderful friends is the very least we can do as a response to their love and affection. Our goal becomes to share as many possible moments within this wonderful relationship.

Family Support

In addition to treating pets, we treat families by providing emotional, intellectual, physical, and in some cases, spiritual support, as we strive to enhance a pet’s quality of care and life. Our oncologists and oncology technicians have created a welcoming and caring environment that encourages the families of our patients to participate in the management of their pet’s disease. We spend as much time as we need with each client to discuss various options they have in treating and caring for their pets. We believe in empowering and educating family members about cancer and work to dispel the myths and misconceptions they may have about the disease.

Why Treat Cancer

To many, the word cancer conveys a sense of darkness—and hopelessness. This is true regardless of whether the patient is a human family member or your pet. Also, all the terminology of cancer and its treatment conjures up images of horror and fear for those faced with making difficult decisions. There are many reasons why cancer is being treated more and more commonly including increased prevalence, awareness of cancer treatments, and because of the intense love many of us share with our pets.

Cancer is indeed becoming more common in our world. Many are surprised to learn that cancer is the number one natural cause of death in pets of all ages.  It accounts for almost 50% of the deaths of older pets annually.

Your veterinarian is a key resource to lead you to the best treatments for your pet. Angiostatin, endostatin, Herceptin, gene therapy, metalloproteinase inhibitors, laser surgery, and steriotactically delivered radiation therapy have become topics of daily conversation. Many people are aware of these amazing advances in cancer care for people. Understandably, these same people search for the same potential for cure and control for their pets. Your veterinarian has amazing resources to ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.  

Perhaps the best reason to think about caring for your pet with cancer is the most difficult to completely explain. Many people are willing to seek out treatment for their pet with cancer because they have often shared a decade or more of experiences. Regardless of how much time you have spent with your pet, most know that these friends give provide unconditional love through triumphs and tragedies. Therefore, caring for your best friend to enhance the quality of life is often perceived as a great gift of love in exchange for this love, loyalty, and affection.

Caring for your Pet with Cancer

The First Steps
Cancer, the word is frightening in part because there are so many myths and misperceptions about cancer. However, almost all pets with cancer can be helped. Empowering yourself with appropriate information allows you to begin the process of finding ways you can join with your veterinary health care team to help your best friend. Your pet not only shares your home, your life, and your experiences but also your heart. Seeking the most appropriate care will allow you to spend as much time as possible with your special friend.

Empower Yourself with Information
You can defeat the darkness of cancer with knowledge. Work with your veterinary health care team to learn as much as possible about the disease and its treatment. Be proactive. Ask questions and obtain resources to tear away the many misconceptions about cancer and cancer therapies. Tackling the emotional aspects of cancer can enhance your ability to think clearly, make decisions, and begin to find the hope and opportunities that lie before you as you deal with your pet’s cancer.

Pick a Good Team
As your pet’s primary caregiver, you are in the best position to know and meet your pet’s needs and desires. Your greatest task is to find a veterinary health care team that is experienced in cancer care and committed to working with you as a member of that team. Once the right team is forged, everyone can provide truly compassionate care. Compassionate care requires that your pet is as free as possible from the adverse effects that may be associated with cancer and cancer care. This includes freedom from pain, nausea, and starvation. Ask your veterinary health care team about what supportive care measures can be undertaken to enhance the quality of your pet’s life.

Click Here for a Nutritional Support Guide

Click here for more Empowerment Tips

Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian

A lot of questions may be going through your mind, and we are here to answer them for you.

Below is a printable PDF with questions you can discuss with your veterinarian healthcare team.

Click here for questions to ask your healthcare veterinarian team


See our departments


We are a VCA Pet CancerCare Center offering hope, compassion, and healing.                            

As a VCA Pet CancerCare Center, we are part of a network of more than 30 centers across North America. This collaboration brings advanced treatment options, state-of-the-art technology, and expertise to achieve the optimal outcome for your pet. In partnership with you and your primary care veterinarian, our aim is to offer you compassionate care choices that meet your goals and ensure your pet’s best quality of life.

Our Center Is Comprised Of Four Teams:

Medical Oncology

This team of board certified medical oncologists, internists, cardiologists, and technicians are some of the most experienced and highly trained in the world. They work tirelessly to provide care that is unparalleled.  We lead the world in incorporating cutting-edge medical therapy designed to provide enhanced quality of life while controlling or curing cancer with anticancer drugs including molecular therapeutics plus cancer treatment employing new devices or methods to engage the body’s own cancer defense mechanisms.

Radiation Oncology/Diagnostic Imaging

Radiation treatment has proven to be a vital tool for improving the health of a number of cancer patients. This critical aspect of care is quite unique because it is performed in our own state of the art facilities in Carlsbad, California. We offer the most advanced TrueBeam radiotherapy system available on the west coast for the elimination of tumors while sparing healthy, normal tissue.
 With the TrueBeam system, treatments can be performed with ease, precision, and speed. This technology makes it possible to deliver fast, accurate image-guided treatments within just a few minutes per day.

We also work in cooperation with regional human radiation oncologists and radiation therapy centers offering the robotically, computer controlled, Cyberknife stereotactic radiosurgery.

Our center stands ready to diagnose each problem with state-of-the-art-in-house diagnostics including Computerized Tomography (CT), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), ultrasound, color flow Doppler, and digital radiology.

Surgical Oncology
Cancer is the most curable of all chronic diseases and surgery is critical in helping to achieve that cure. The best chance for cure is with initial surgery. Therefore, having specially trained surgeons is vital. Our center features an experienced team of highly trained board-certified surgeons and surgical nurses who provide kind, compassionate care for each and every surgery patient. The team approach is used to employ the most effective method for curing or controlling cancer: surgery. Indeed, using an integrated approach, we employ the very latest surgical procedures in concert with radiation and medical, surgical procedures.


Emergency and Critical Care
Cancer patients need to have someone standing by day or night, rain or shine, in case the unexpected happens. Fortunately, we have a team of the most highly trained specialists in emergency and critical care at each of our three hospitals. If the unexpected happens, we are here for you.

What Is A Veterinary Oncologist?

A board certified veterinary oncologist is a veterinary internal medicine specialist who has also obtained additional training in veterinary oncology. A veterinary oncologist has specialized knowledge in the diagnosis of cancer, the staging of tumors, the development of treatment plans, and the administration of chemotherapy.

When your pet is faced with cancer, a veterinary oncologist will typically work in concert with your pet's general practitioner veterinarian in order to obtain the best possible medical outcome for your pet. A veterinary oncologist can help your pet by developing treatment plans that incorporate one or all of the following options:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy

While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases like cancer require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary oncology.

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Oncologist?

Just as in humans, a pet with cancer typically needs the help of an oncologist to help diagnose and treat the disease. Veterinary oncologists determine the most appropriate course of treatment and coordinate the treatment program for pets with cancer. They also frequently serve as consultants to veterinarians in private practice to ensure that their patients receive the best treatment possible for their cancer.

You can be assured that a veterinarian who refers you and your pet to a veterinary oncologist is one who is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her illness.

While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with the veterinary oncologist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the veterinary oncologist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Board-certified veterinary internists/oncologists may also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools that a general practitioner veterinarian may not have.

My Pet Has Cancer. Now What?

Cancer does appear to be becoming more common in pets, most likely because they are simply living longer. The most important point to realize about this dreaded disease, however, is that just as in people, many forms of the disease can be easily treated, managed, and even cured. Early detection and specialized care are leading to increased survival and cure rates in almost all the types of cancers that afflict pets.

From surgery to chemotherapy to radiation therapy, veterinary cancer specialists can offer your pet the very latest diagnostic and treatment options and the best chance of survival. With optimal treatment, cancer in many cases simply becomes another manageable chronic disease.

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, it is important not to become overwhelmed. Ask your veterinarian to write down the most important points for you to review later. Although the disease is serious, treatment decisions generally do not need to be made quickly. If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, however, you will either want to have your general practice veterinarian work in consultation with a veterinary oncologist, or be referred to one of these specialists for your pet's treatment.

Veterinary oncologists typically treat:

  • Common Cancers
  • Skin tumors
  • Mammary tumors
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Endocrine tumors
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Hemangiosarcoma

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

In most cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care and will work in tandem with the veterinary oncologist, veterinary radiation oncologist, and any other members of your pet's veterinary health care team.

Did You Know?

Dogs and cats have higher age adjusted incidence rates for many kinds of cancers than do humans. For example, dogs are 35 times more likely to get skin cancer than are humans. They suffer from 8 times the amount of bone cancer and 4 times the amount of breast cancer. However, humans are more likely to get lung and stomach cancers than pets

Our Oncology Services

Bone Marrow Aspirate
Bone Marrow Transplant
Cancer Education
Cancer Staging

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