Innovations in veterinary care are giving pet owners in Meriden new options in keeping man's best friend cancer-free.
The 8-year-old dog Coco is a beloved member of the Carbray family.
“She loves everything and everybody,” said Erika Carbray. “She's more human than dog. She likes to sit at the dining room table with us when we eat dinner, and she'll just sit there in a chair and not make a sound.”
Although she's still her typical happy-go-lucky self, Coco is battling cancer for the second time.
When Coco was diagnosed the first time, Erika Carbray decided to try radiation treatment to shrink the tumor in her nose.
Carbray drove Coco to Tufts University in Massachusetts every day for one month, which has the closest animal hospital that offered radiation at the time.
“After radiation, it had shrunk by 75 percent. So that was considered a huge success,” Carbray said.
It was a time-consuming commitment and Carbray even quit her job to be able to take Coco to appointments, but Carbray has no regrets.
“So far Coco has gotten two and half more years of life, and a great life, you know I want to continue that,” Carbray said.
The family thought they were in the clear, but about one year ago Coco's tumor had grown.
At first they used chemotherapy, a cheaper alternative to radiation, but it hasn't worked.
“Radiation is what's going to give her more years of life hopefully,” Carbray said.
Doctors said more pet owners feel the same.
“There have been a lot of innovations in the last decade in veterinary medicine following on the heels of 30 years of innovations in human cancer research,” said Veterinarian Dr. Shawn Behan.
Pet owners now have a variety of options but some are still crucial.
“I did get a lot of backlash from certain people, you know kind of, ‘How could you do that? How could you put her through that?',” Carbray said.
But doctors said cancer treatments for dogs are not like the side effects human patients experience.
“The entire process is much milder and gentler for dogs- we use lower doses, they tolerate the drugs much better, so they do not go through even a tenth of the suffering that most humans have to,” Behan said, who is a veterinarian at Rocky Hill Animal Hospital.
Similar to human cancer treatment, oncological care for dogs is hugely expensive, and coming up with $9,000 for radiation treatment is tough to swing.
So they started a fundraiser on the popular crowdfunding website Go-Fund-Me.
“I mean I would always do anything, just like you know, if I had a child - I would do the same for Coco,” Carbray said.
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Carbray said after Coco is treated, she plans on continuing to help raise money for other dogs who need cancer care.
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