Canine cancer: How to save a pet's life

We'll show you the best treatments options and introduce you to a 3-year-old Boxer who beat the odds


Cancer is a devastating disease, and not just for humans. It is the number one cause of death in dogs over the age of two.

David Hinden experienced every pet lover’s worst nightmare when his 3-year-old boxer, Marley, was diagnosed with cancer this past March. Hinden had decided to bring Marley into the veterinarian’s office because he noticed her limping.

“They first found out where her pain was coming from,” Hinden said.  “They gave her an X-ray and told me it looked like a tumor, and it was confirmed with the biopsy.”

Marley was suffering from osteosarcoma, which is an aggressive type of bone cancer.

“I played every option out,” Hinden said. “The option I elected to do was keep her alive as long as possible and the best quality of life.”

In order to treat Marley, Dr. Tim Rocha, an oncologist at New York City Vet Specialists, had to amputate Marley’s front leg.

“The primary option I gave them after surgery was to have chemotherapy,” Rocha said. “We hope [it] will add one to two years or even more years to Marley’s life.”

Rocha, who has been with Marley every step of the way since her diagnosis, explained that the chemotherapy treatment used for animals is virtually identical to the one used for humans.  Typically, therapy for animals lasts four to five months but can last longer depending on the type of cancer.

“Our pets will live long with chemo,” Rocha said. “We can’t cure as many, but their quality of life is superb.  Quantity of life is a huge thing, but quality of life trumps that in veterinary medicine.”

Now cancer-free, Marley has adjusted back to her active lifestyle and is as lively as ever.

“She only has three legs, but otherwise she’s perfect….she’s playful,” Hinden said. “She has energy, she loves to run still, play ball, jumps high as ever.”