The diagnosis of cancer is upsetting for pet owners, and the prospect of chemotherapy treatments can be equally difficult. However, the fear that pets will spend most of their last days sick from chemotherapy treatments is unwarranted. Knowing how anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs work and what to expect from the treatments can help pet owners decide on whether such therapy is appropriate for their pets.
When you think of chemotherapy in humans, you probably think of nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue. However, in animals these side effects can be mild. Compared to people who receive chemotherapy, animals’ experience fewer and less severe side effects because we use lower doses of drugs and do not combine as many drugs as in human medicine. The typical side effects include vomiting and diarrhea, increased susceptibility to infection and bone marrow suppression. We take steps to blunt any side effects and Dr. Tyler will discuss and go over the individual side effects that may be expected based on the particular medications that are given.
The exact medications that are given, how they are given and how often varies from case to case depending on the type of cancer, the patient and costs. Typically chemotherapy drugs are given either as an oral medication, an injection into the muscle or under the skin or by an injection into the vein. Given the individuality of treatment, a consultation with Dr. Tyler to go over treatment plans and collectively develop a plan of action is the first step.