In March of 2022, Robert Kidby noticed his 10-year-old Shar Pei mix, Brady, had swelling below his right eye and was drooling excessively. Kidby took Brady to his veterinarian in Virginia, thinking it was just a bee sting.
“They thought it was an abscess,” Kidby reflects. “But they took an X-ray and didn’t see an abscess.”
Over the summer, the swelling did not improve despite the antibiotic treatment, and Brady had difficulty eating and opening his mouth.
When Kidby moved to Milwaukee in August, he started bringing Brady to UW Veterinary Care, the teaching hospital of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, for specialized care. The hospital’s Oncology service discovered a large, aggressive tumor on the right side of Brady’s face.
Kidby found out Brady would need intensive radiation, both on the tumor in his face and to treat cancer found in his lungs. This not only came with the stress of caring for an ill pet but financial struggles as well.
“I had already gone through my pet insurance and care credit with the diagnostic testing,” Kidby says.
Luckily, Brady’s oncologist told Kidby they would qualify for the Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund, which subsidizes the cost of cancer care for dogs and cats of families who otherwise could not afford treatment.
“I was so thankful,” Kidby says. “Anything can help right now.”
The UW School of Veterinary Medicine is one of 12 veterinary oncology centers awarded $75,000 each to help provide life-saving cancer care to pets and their families. The funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis of up to $4,000 per client.
“Oncology treatments can be expensive. The Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund allows us to provide some families who need that extra bit of help to get them through cancer treatments to have more time with their animal companion.”
This is the second year UW has received the grant. In 2021, UW Veterinary Care distributed funds to 19 clients to support their pets’ cancer treatment.
According to the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, an estimated six million dogs and six million cats will develop cancer annually. A cancer diagnosis can leave pet owners with difficult decisions due to financial impacts, says Ruthanne Chun, clinical professor of oncology at the UW School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Oncology treatments can be expensive,” Chun says. “The Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund allows us to provide some families who need that extra bit of help to get them through cancer treatments to have more time with their animal companion.”
Brady’s treatment has been going well. He received radiation once every week for three weeks for the tumor on his face and has joined a clinical trial involving radiation therapy for the cancer in his lungs.
So far, the treatment has helped shrink the tumor on his face and stopped the drooling. Kidby and the oncologists will have a better understanding of his lung cancer in a few weeks after the next set of diagnostic imaging scans.
Despite the intensive treatment, Brady has been pushing through.
“He’s a pretty stoic dog,” Kidby says. “He’s been strong. But if he wants cuddles, he’ll just jump on you and sit on your lap.”