Finding out your dog has cancer is undeniably scary, and planning treatment can be hard on families. Unfortunately, cancer is fairly common in dogs, affecting about 25% during their lifetimes. Many of the cancer treatments that humans use are also available for dogs, but as you may already know, they can be very expensive. Luckily, there are a few ways to save on chemo and cancer drugs for dogs: by buying online, buying generic, or signing up for pet insurance or pharmacy benefit plans.
Dog Cancer Treatment Costs
With a combination of chemotherapy or radiation, surgery and medication, cancer treatment for dogs can easily add up to over $7,000:*
- $800-$1,000 for biopsies and tests
- $2,500-$6,000 on surgeries
- $6,000-$10,000 on chemotherapy
- $5,000-$7,000 on radiation
- Over $3,000 on medication every year
Each treatment is tailored to the cancer size and location, but frequently, radiation or surgery is used to remove the tumor and then treatment with chemo and/or pain medication follows. Purchased at retail, cancer drugs for dogs like Lukeran can cost over $30 per pill and pain medications, such as Piroxicam, can cost over $2 per pill. So how can you save on those medication costs?
1. Know Where to Buy Cancer Drugs for Dogs
A great way to save on medication is to buy at an online pet pharmacy, such as Petcarerx.com. Veterinarians may mark-up medication as high as 160% to cover their services**, but websites specializing in medication can save on overhead.
2. Save with Generic Meds
You can also save by buying generic instead of brand name medications at the vet's office or online. Oftentimes generic cancer drugs for dogs are much less expensive, even though they have the same ingredients.
3. Save with Pet Insurance or a Pharmacy Benefits Plans
You may also want to save on cancer treatment by signing up for an insurance plan or pharmacy benefits program. Much like human insurance, pet insurance can reduce the costs of cancer treatment, usually through a reimbursement system. Unfortunately, pet insurance plans usually will not cover cancer if it’s a preexisting condition. These plans can also have expensive monthly fees and co-pays and may not cover all vet visits or fees.
If your dog has already been diagnosed with cancer, and you are facing high medication costs, a pharmacy benefits plan like PetPlus by PetCareRx could be a money-saver. PetPlus is not insurance, so preexisting conditions aren't a problem. By joining as a member, you can save up to 75% on medications, get free shipping or local pickup, and even get discounts on vet visits and surgery. Plus, savings happen at the time of purchase -- no reimbursement forms to fill out. With discounts even higher than pharmacy websites, you can save over 80% on Leukeran (vs. retail), which could add up to thousands of dollars in savings each year.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if your dog has cancer and you can’t afford treatment?
Finding out that your beloved dog has cancer can be heartbreaking, and it can be even more distressing when you realize that you cannot afford the treatment. Sometimes, a different veterinarian may have a more affordable treatment plan, or they may be able to suggest alternative treatments that can help manage cancer. Palliative care aims to manage the symptoms and improve the dog's quality of life, even if cancer treatment is not feasible. Your veterinarian can suggest pain management techniques, nutritional support, and other therapies that can help your dog. State-specific financial assistance programs for pet healthcare can help, and RedRover's Urgent Care Grants are also a great resource for pet owners who are struggling to afford their pet's medical bills. RedRover's grants are available for emergency veterinary care and cover up to $200 for one-time emergency treatment for qualifying pets. To be eligible for a RedRover Urgent Care Grant, the pet owner must demonstrate financial need, and the pet must have a good prognosis for recovery. It is also worth noting that RedRover's grants are only available for emergency treatment, not for ongoing cancer treatment or management. However, these grants can still provide much-needed financial assistance to pet owners who are struggling to afford their pet's medical bills. There are many nonprofit organizations and charities that offer financial assistance for pet owners who cannot afford cancer treatment. Look for such organizations in your area, and see if you are eligible for any help. You can reach out to your family, friends, and social media contacts to ask for help with the treatment costs. There are also many crowdfunding websites that can help you set up a campaign. While it is heartbreaking to consider, in some cases, euthanasia may be the kindest option for your dog if you cannot afford the treatment or if the treatment is unlikely to be effective. Talk to your veterinarian about this possibility, and consider the quality of life of your pet when making this decision.
Is it worth putting a dog through chemotherapy?
Deciding whether or not to put a dog through chemotherapy is a complex and difficult decision that should be made in consultation with a veterinarian, taking into account the dog's individual health and the owner's personal circumstances. Chemotherapy is a commonly used treatment for many types of cancer in dogs, and it can be effective in extending the dog's life, improving the quality of life, and providing symptom relief. However, chemotherapy can also be expensive, time-consuming, and may cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Ultimately, the decision to pursue chemotherapy for a dog with cancer should be based on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the dog's overall health and life expectancy, the potential benefits and risks of chemotherapy for the dog, and the owner's ability to manage the financial and emotional costs of treatment. In some cases, chemotherapy may be the best option for a dog with cancer and can significantly improve the dog's quality of life and overall prognosis. In other cases, the dog's age or health status may make chemotherapy too risky, or the cost of treatment may be too high for the owner to manage. Ultimately, the decision to pursue chemotherapy should be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with a veterinarian and taking into account the unique needs and circumstances of both the dog and the owner.
What is the average cost of chemotherapy for a dog?
The cost of chemotherapy for a dog can vary depending on several factors, including the type of cancer being treated, the stage of cancer, the type of chemotherapy drugs used, and the length and frequency of treatment. Additionally, the cost of chemotherapy can vary depending on the location and type of veterinary practice providing the treatment. The cost of chemotherapy for dogs and cats can range from $150 to $500 per dose, and the total cost of treatment can vary widely depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated, the length and frequency of treatment, and other factors. For example, some types of chemotherapy may require multiple doses over several weeks or months, which can increase the overall cost of treatment. Radiation therapy is another common treatment for cancer in pets, and the cost of this treatment can also vary depending on the type and stage of the cancer being treated, the location of the cancer, and the length of treatment required. The cost of palliative radiation therapy can range from $1,000 to $1,800, while the cost of curative intent radiation therapy can range from $4,500 to $6,000.
Can a dog survive cancer without chemo?
Yes, it is possible for a dog to survive cancer without undergoing chemotherapy. The prognosis for a dog with cancer depends on several factors, including the type and stage of cancer, the dog's overall health, and the treatment options available. In some cases, surgery or radiation therapy may be enough to remove or shrink the tumor and help the dog achieve remission. Additionally, supportive care and palliative treatments such as pain management, nutritional support, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or herbal remedies may help improve the dog's quality of life and extend its survival time. Immunotherapy is an exciting area of research and development in the field of canine cancer treatment, and it holds great promise for improving outcomes and potentially even curing some types of cancer in dogs. Immunotherapy works by teaching the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells in the body. There are several different types of immunotherapy being studied for use in dogs with cancer, including checkpoint inhibitors, vaccines, and CAR-T cell therapy. Checkpoint inhibitors work by blocking certain signals that cancer cells use to evade the immune system, allowing the immune system to recognize better and attack the cancer cells. Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells specifically. CAR-T cell therapy involves removing immune cells from the dog's body, genetically engineering them to recognize and attack cancer cells, and then infusing them back into the dog's body to fight cancer. While immunotherapy is still a relatively new area of research in veterinary medicine, early results have been promising, and many dogs have shown significant improvements in quality of life and survival time after receiving immunotherapy.
Learn more about PetPlus.
*According to PetCareRx Consulting Veterinarian estimates of cancer treatment costs
**Consumer Reports: Don’t Automatically Get Pet Medicines From the Vet
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.