Does your dog have cancer? Don't lose heart
Tata Memorial Centre in Kharghar offers chemotherapy and radiotherapy for canines; it's the only such unit in the country
Snowy (left) is undergoing radiation for oral cancer; canine activist Shwetali Mulik, who had taken her Labrador to the Kharghar facility, has been creating awareness
Angela Mah's face beamed with joy when she saw her dog Snowy responding to treatment. It was Snowy's sixth radiation session. You heard it right. The dog was receiving cancer care.
In what could bring a smile on the face of hundreds of dog owners, cancer-afflicted canines can be treated at the the Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research & Education in Cancer (ACTREC), Tata Memorial Centre, at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai. It is the only such facility in the country.
Experts say cancer afflicts a large number dogs and majority of them die untreated as most of city veterinary doctors are unaware of the availability of treatment in India.
Singaporean Angela, employed with a multinational firm, shifted base to Mumbai last year and brought Snowy with her. Three months ago, she notice a small growth on the left side of the dog's neck. Angela was devastated when tests revealed that Snowy had oral cancer.
After spending some sleepless nights, she came across a vet who advised her to consult Dr Pradip Chaudhari, a veterinary oncologist at ACTREC. "Initially, I didn't know what to do. It seems many vets are clueless about the availability of radiation therapy here. In the absence of awareness, I believe, many pet owners watch with pain their beloved pets losing the battle," said Angela.
The 47-year-old executive said the radiation cycles have helped Snowy in many ways in the past six weeks. "Earlier, she wouldn't eat properly, which is not the case now. Her treatment is still on and I'm hoping for the best."
Cancer care for dogs at ACTREC costs between Rs40,000 and Rs60,000 depending on treatment cycles such as chemotherapy or radiation. Last year, the centre treated nearly 150 dogs.
Citing medical data, an expert said dogs receiving radiation treatment live for over two years. For lack of awareness, several owners live with a sense of guilt about not being able to get their dogs treated. In fact, many vets advise people to put their animals to sleep.
Dr Pradip Chaudhari said, "Most people are not aware that cancers or tumours are common in dogs. There are different types of cancers in dogs which we treat in the hospital. Last year, nearly 50 dogs underwent chemotherapy and the results have been encouraging. Like humans, dogs too can be treated with radiotherapy. Careful planning minimises radiation damage to surrounding healthy tissues. Sometimes, we advise removal of tumours through surgery following which we start our treatment."
Canine activist Shwetali Mulik, who also runs a homestay facility for dogs, has been letting people know about ACTREC ever since she took her black Labrador, Lui, to the Kharghar facility in 2011. "I too was overwhelmed by a deep sense of despair until I was told about ACTREC by senior vet Dr Jairam Ramani. After the treatment, Lui survived till 2013."