Meta facebook tracking pixel

Cancer Patients Can’t Afford Pet Food and Vet Care, CancerCare Survey Finds

Some Cancer Patients Would Rather Stop Treatment Than Give Up Their Pets

The companionship and support of a pet can be a lifeline for people diagnosed with cancer. However, caring for a pet while also trying to care yourself can be extremely challenging. CancerCare's Pet Assistance & Wellness (PAW) Program recently surveyed 244 people diagnosed with cancer who have a dog or cat in their home and found that nearly half (44%) worried they might not be able to keep their pets due to their cancer treatment.

The survey also found that 87% of cancer patients had difficulty taking care of their pet during treatment because of the expense. Prior to their cancer diagnosis, most pet owners were able to afford pet food (93%) and pay for vet visits (91%). After their diagnosis, three-quarters (77% and 78% respectively) found it difficult or impossible to pay for pet food and vet visits.

“The expense of pet food, veterinary care, dog walkers, and boarding can add up. Cost is the main pet-related difficulty that owners face when undergoing cancer treatment,” said Brian Morvant, Program Manager for CancerCare's Pet Assistance & Wellness (PAW) Program. “Cancer drugs and treatment are expensive and physically taxing, to say the least. Our survey found that people diagnosed with cancer find it extremely difficult to take their pet to the vet, walk their dog or even afford pet food during this vulnerable time in their lives,” said Morvant.

More than 8 in 10 cancer patients (86%) needed part-time or occasional help caring for their pet and more than one in ten (15%) said they considered abandoning or pausing their cancer treatment in order to keep their pet, the survey found. Nearly all cancer patients (92%) said their pet was extremely important throughout their cancer journey.

Difficulties pet owners face while undergoing cancer treatment include:

• More than half (59%) had trouble walking their dog.
• Two-thirds (67%) had trouble taking care of their pets because of an inability to walk, lift, or bend down.
• Almost half (49%) cited that taking care of their pet was very difficult while they were undergoing cancer treatment.
• Six in 10 (60%) had trouble shopping for pet food.
• 63% had limited ability to take their pet to the vet.
• 86% needed part-time or occasional help caring for their pet.

“Pets help their owners cope with the emotional aspects of cancer, especially individuals living alone,” Morvant explained. “However, the physical, emotional and financial difficulties that may accompany a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming to even the most devoted pet owners, putting that cherished relationship at risk.”

While there are many resources for those diagnosed with cancer, CancerCare's PAW Program is the only national organization offering financial support to pet owners undergoing cancer treatment who are having trouble taking care of their pet. Since launching the PAW financial assistance program for qualified pet owners in active treatment in 2020, the PAW Program has served over 3,300 clients. Read more about CancerCare's Pet Owners with Cancer Survey here.

About CancerCare®
Founded in 1944, CancerCare is the leading national organization providing free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical, and financial challenges of cancer. Our comprehensive services include resource navigation, counseling, support groups (over the phone, online and in-person), educational workshops, publications, and financial and co-payment assistance. All CancerCare services are provided by master’s-prepared oncology social workers and world-leading cancer experts. To learn more, visit our website or call 800-813-HOPE (4673).

CancerCare’s national PAW Program was launched in 2020 with the mission of helping people diagnosed with cancer stay together with their beloved pets. The program provides limited financial assistance to eligible cancer patients in active treatment who are owners of a cat or dog. These funds help offset pet care expenses such as pet food, pet walking/sitting, boarding fees, veterinarian expenses, medications, and lab fees. The program also provides education for cancer patients focused on caring for their pets and a searchable database of low-cost and free pet care services across the country. Make a donation here.

Editor’s Note: Survey charts can be found here. Quotes from cancer patients are available upon request.

Media Contact:
Beth Brody

Back to Press Releases

Back to Top

Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

By using our website, you agree to our recently updated Privacy Policy . Here you can read more about our use of cookies which help us make continuous improvements to our website. Privacy Policy.