Dogs don't know that they have cancer, but their humans do. If your canine companion has the clinical signs of cancer, minimizing their anxiety starts with reducing your own.
You don't have to talk about your dog's cancer in hushed tones. You don't have to spell out the word when talking about cancer around your dog, as in "The vet says our dog has c-a-n-c-e-r."
But as a pet owner, you do need to be aware that your dog can read your facial expressions and body language, in addition to your family members.
Your dog knows how you feel
Research scientists at a veterinary school in Italy have found that dogs can read facial expressions in much the same that humans do. They can detect fear, anger, happiness, sadness, disgust, and neutral expressions.
Dogs know when you are talking about them because they see you looking at them. According to the Italian study, dogs are better able to read your emotions when sitting on the left side of your body. They oddly can’t read emotions on the right side of your face, which connects to the analytical side of your brain.
Dogs know how we feel. They don't need to know what we’re thinking.
Dogs pick up on happiness, anger, and fear better than they pick up on sadness, but scientists have found that dogs recognize sadness even in humans they don't know about 70% of the time.
Your dog knows you. Your dog knows when you are sad. Your dog will wonder if you are sad because of something they are doing. They won't be able to smell or hear your thoughts about their cancer diagnosis, but they will read your facial expressions and body language and have potential side effects from your nonverbal cues.
You can minimize your dog's anxiety
No one thinks that a loving pet parent or dog owners should pretend to be happy and relaxed when their dog is diagnosed with cancer. But there are three simple ways you can make your emotional experience easier for your dog:
- Learn to detect when your dog is picking up on your anxiety levels. There will be tiny changes in their posture and the way they wag their tail.
- Keep your dog's environment quiet and predictable. You may not be able to take your own anxiety out of the picture, but you can at least minimize the other things your dog might have to be anxious about. Keep contact with strange animals to a minimum. Make sure your dog has something with your scent on it for their crate or their bed. Keep their favorite toys close by.
- If you can still take your dog for walks, choose less crowded routes at times of day when fewer people and dogs are out to avoid anxious situations.
Bottom line: Do everything you can emotionally and physically to support your dog in remaining as healthy and active as possible. There will be some health benefits from less anxiety, positively affecting the overall well being of your dog and improving a dog's quality of life.
You can minimize your anxiety, too
That means the best veterinary cancer care, cancer treatment options, and it also means providing your dog with the best canine cancer diet.
Canine Biologics specializes in providing the best food possible for dogs with cancer. Our three-pronged approach to nutrition includes human-grade food, wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and specialized supplements for dogs with cancer.
When you feed your dog Canine Biologics, you can rest assured that you’re giving them the best nutrition possible. That should make you both feel better, too. Contact us today to learn more about our products.