Has your dog just been diagnosed with a brain tumor? Don’t make the mistakes that my parents and I made when their beautiful German shepherd was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

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My parents’ dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and we had him euthanized when it became clear that the treatment was no longer working.

Rule # 1: Just because your regular vet strongly recommends a specialist, doesn’t mean that the specialist is the best one for treating your dog’s brain tumor.

Initially we thought that the specialist, a veterinary neurologist, was the best option for treating our dog’s brain tumor.

Had we continued going to him for treatment, our beloved would have died six weeks before he actually did.

Rule # 2: Don’t judge a veterinarian’s expertise by the appearance of his workplace. The vet-neuro told us he would not perform surgery to “de-bulk” the brain tumor, and said that radiation was pointless.

His only treatment was a chemo drug, Lomustine, which he said “might slow the progression of the brain tumor.” The upscale-looking clinic he worked out of boasted state-of-the-art treatments.

If a pill that “might slow” the brain tumor’s growth is all that your doctor can come up with, do not take it as the gospel. Now, perhaps your pet’s condition truly is hopeless; a doctor should be upfront and honest and should never give false hope.

However, my point is that if the first veterinarian you see for your dog’s brain tumor won’t even operate and won’t even recommend radiation — which are two modalities that have historically given ailing canines months of quality living — get a second opinion fast!

After our magnificent had to be laid to rest, I have since discovered an out-of-state veterinary hospital that I am 100 percent convinced would have treated our dog with de-bulking surgery and follow-up cutting-edge tumor-targeting treatment.

Rule # 3: Don’t rule out traveling to seek treatment for the brain tumor. I could have driven my parents’ dog to this cutting-edge vet hospital and stayed at a motel while the animal was getting treatment.

I then could have kenneled the dog in between treatments if follow-up appointments were close together, all the while remaining at the motel; I work from home off my computer, so I could have easily telecommuted from any motel.

Seek that second opinion if you suspect that the veterinarian won’t do surgery because it seems he’s afraid he might kill the dog.

To this day, I suspect this was the reason the vet-neuro wouldn’t de-bulk the brain tumor. I’ve also since read that radiation can go a long way in shrinking brain tumors and giving dogs many more months of quality life.

A once-a-month chemo pill, as the only brain tumor fighting weapon, is a complete joke. The money that was spent on problems resulting from setbacks could have been spent on the radiation, because, in hindsight, I realize that some of these setbacks would have never occurred had the dog received radiation and even de-bulking surgery.

Rule # 4: Don’t ever allow money to dictate treatment for your dog’s brain tumor! If you have the money, if it’s there, then you have the money for the treatment. You either have the money in some shape, way, or form, or you don’t. If you have it, then use it.

You don’t ever, ever want to go through life kicking yourself because you realize that your dog is dead because you didn’t want to spend money on treatment.

There’s only one thing worse than grief: grief plus guilt. Don’t worry about the expense. Just pay for it and then pray.

If you must become a stripper and remove your kids from college to come up with the money, or sell illegal drugs to come up with the money, then of course, this is crossing the line and should not be considered. I’m talking about if you already have the money, either in the bank, as I-bonds, or as disposable income from credit cards.

If it’s there, do not feel guilty about spending it for your dog’s brain tumor treatment. Remember, grief PLUS guilt is a horrible way to live.

Rule # 5: Do not blow off alternative treatment as an adjunct to conventional treatment. A holistic veterinarian cancer specialist saved our dog from the near-fatal condition he ended up in as a result of the vet-neuro’s protocol.

This second veterinarian’s alternative treatment gave us back our glorious dog for six wonderful weeks. Though the treatment ultimately was no match for the brain tumor, this doctor had also been upfront and honest from the get-go, informing us he didn’t know if the treatment would work.

The holistic veterinarian had restored our dog from the condition that the vet-neurologist, and his ER colleague, had completely missed! Had we never found this holistic vet, we would have taken the dog back to the first vet to have him put down!

Rule # 6: If your dog is deteriorating, find out if another ailment is at play. The alternative vet determined that a drug that had been prescribed by the first vet, dexamethasone, had ravaged our dog’s immune system.

Brain tumors are rarely curable, and the prognosis is usually bleak. Nevertheless, you want to pursue all possible avenues for your dog. Look beyond your state. Consider traveling for the treatment. Don’t assume that just because a veterinarian is local, that he or she is the best one for the job.