Everything You Need To Know About Chemotherapy For Dogs

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One of the scariest moments of your life as a dog owner is hearing that your beloved pet has cancer. As your vet lays out treatment options, you find yourself wondering whether chemotherapy is the best option for your dog. Understanding the process of chemotherapy and what it’ll do for your dog will give you a better idea of whether to proceed or consider other options. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions.

What Is It And Why Does My Dog Need It?

Chemotherapy is a mixture of intensive drugs that are able to destroy cancerous cells in your dog. The specific medical combination will depend on your dog’s overall health and the type of cancer that he has. Your vet will monitor your dog closely while he undergoes chemotherapy and change the dosage or frequency according to your dog’s progress or side effects.

Chemo is most prescribed for lymphoma. Other cancers that have a high chance of spreading or have already spread through the body also uses chemotherapy to slow down cancer.

If it’s a single tumor on the surface of the skin and your dog is a good candidate for surgery, then the chemo could be avoided. Cancers with chances of growing and spreading (metastasizing) are treated with chemotherapy. The lead surgeon removes the tumor and sends a piece of it to the pathologist to closely examine in order to determine whether the cancer is at risk of metastasizing. Chemotherapy is less aggressive in animals than it is in people. It’s a quality of life and not life-at-all-costs treatment.

How Much Does It Cost?

The cost of chemo varies with the duration, mixture of drugs, location, and frequency of the treatment. It ranges between $3500 to around $10 000 depending on the above-mentioned factors. Pet insurance should be able to cover some of the cost but that depends entirely on the company and its policies.

What Is To Be Expected During The Treatment?

Chemo is administered through injection (not unlike a vaccination) and last from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the drug cocktail. Some chemo treatments can even be administered orally. Chemotherapy usually feels like a routine visit to the vet in order to minimize discomfort and stress.

What Side-Effects Are To Be Expected?

Because dogs are given a less aggressive chemotherapy, the side effects are less and last a shorter amount of time. Side effects can include vomiting, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite. Most dogs have no side effects at all!

If the side-effects last for over two days with no signs of resolving itself, then call your vet immediately or bring your dog in to receive fluids.

How Often Should Chemo Be Administered?

The frequency, duration, and aggressiveness all depend on the type of cancer. Most treatments are given from once weekly, to once every third week.

Will Your Dog’s Chemo Medication Harm You?

The answer is, sometimes. The drugs tend to remain active inside him for a few days. To be more cautious, wear gloves to clean up after him. Remember to always wash your hands after handling his drugs or his waste – even after wearing gloves. If you ingest one of his drugs by mistake, call Your doctor immediately.

Alternative Treatments

  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Bone Marrow Transplants