A veterinary medical oncologist is a veterinarian in the specialty of internal medicine that deals with the diagnosis and management of the cancer patient. This specialty completing a 3 year residency in Oncology, publishing at least one paper (usually more) in a flagship journal of Oncology and successfully sitting qualifying examinations in internal medicine and certifying examinations in Oncology.

A veterinary medical oncologist and his/her team members are usually the individuals that manage the care of a pet with cancer, whether this is by discussing the diagnostic tests needed to make an accurate diagnosis, formulating a plan for therapy or coordinating specialized procedures indicated for treating specific cancers.

Having knowledge, experience and expertise in pain management, chemotherapy drugs, potential side effects of therapy, novel therapies and diagnostic strategies, as well as issues of the heart, the Oncology team can make recommendations that are both current and in the best interest of the pet. Consultation with other board certified specialists such as Radiologists, Radiation Oncologists and Surgeons is invaluable in the successful management of pets with cancer.

The Oncology Service staff includes; Dr Victoria Larson, B.Sc., DVM, MS, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Oncology and Anika Nielsen, AHT, Oncology nurse. Emergency coverage by our emergency service is offered after hours, holidays and on the weekends.

We are dedicated to practicing state of the art medicine and providing excellent service to our clients and their pets. We aim to achieve the best possible quality of life and to respectfully acknowledge the deep bond between people and their pets.

How Can I Keep My Pet From Getting Cancer?

Just as in people, there is no proven way to keep your pet from getting cancer. You can, however, take steps to minimize the risks. Avoid any known predisposing causes, such as not spaying or neutering pets, or leaving pets exposed to sunlight. Also make sure your pet has regularly scheduled checkups and follow your veterinarian's advice regarding any necessary screening tests.

What Additional Training Does A Veterinary Oncologist Have?

Any veterinarian who wants to specialize in oncology must first be certified as an internal medicine specialist. Veterinarians who want to become board certified in internal medicine must seek additional, intensive training to become a specialist and earn this prestigious credentialing. Specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials, 'DACVIM,' after his or her DVM degree. Or, the veterinarian may indicate that he or she is a 'Diplomate' of the ACVIM. The word 'Diplomate' typically means the specialist has achieved the following:

  • Obtained a traditional 8 year veterinary degree (four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
  • Completed an additional three to six years of advanced training, including a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital where the veterinarian will have trained with some of the best experts in the field and obtained hands on experience.
  • Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVIM
  • Passed a rigorous general examination.

Once a veterinarian is board certified in internal medicine, he or she may seek additional specialty status in veterinary oncology. Internal medicine specialists must obtain additional training in this area and sit for a second, even more intensive examination. These doctors will list their credentials after their boarded status, for example, as 'DAVCIM (Oncology).'

When your pet needs the care of a veterinary internal medicine specialist/veterinary oncologist, years of intensive training and additional education will be focused on helping him or her to recover from the disease and/or enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

What Are Cancer Treatment Methods?

The goal of cancer therapy is to destroy abnormal cancer cells while sparing normal cells. An important difference in human vs. animal oncology is that the goal with humans, due to our extended life spans, is to cure the disease. In animals, the goal is more to extend the length of life while still maintaining its
quality. In many cases, a veterinary oncologist will combine some or all of the treatment options outlined below in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.


Radiation Treatment



Will Chemotherapy Make My Pet Sick?

Your veterinary oncologist will give you specific instructions regarding your pet's chemotherapy, but in general, you should be aware that pets typically handle chemotherapy regimens far better than people do. First, as cancer treatment for both humans and small animals has become more sophisticated, the side effects created by chemotherapy regimens have become less severe. Second, chemotherapy administration in animals is less aggressive than it is in humans, so animals typically do not become as sick from the side effects as do people.

Finally, veterinary oncologists have many options at their disposal to help keep your pet comfortable during treatment for his or her disease. From pain management options to special nutritional recommendations to medications that can help lessen the nausea associated with chemotherapy, be assured that veterinary oncologists can keep most pets surprisingly comfortable during treatment. In fact, one of the biggest hurdles to treating pets with cancer is that many owners imagine their pet's treatment will be more difficult than it really is.

Our Oncology Team

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