With pets living longer, cancer (such as lymphoma, osteosarcoma) is diagnosed more commonly!
At our clinic we offer diagnosis and staging of the cancer (through biopsies, ultrasound, xrays and blood testing) and provide chemotherapy to dogs and cats as appropriate to the type of cancer.
We understand that the prospect of chemotherapy treatments for a dog or cat can be very confronting, adding to the already very emotional time post-diagnosis of cancer.
That’s why we want pet owners to empower themselves with knowledge, and actively encourage pet parents to ask questions and voice their concerns and regarding treatment. We will do everything we can to help pet owners make a decision for their pet.
We take the time to go through with you what to expect with the cancer condition and remission rates, the benefits and risks of chemotherapy, and your pet’s response to chemotherapy. Your pet is admitted into hospital for the day and chemodrugs are carefully administered intravenously by our vets and then closely monitored by our caring nurses.
Pet chemotherapy treatment is very much tailored to the feline or canine patient, as there are a lot of different factors to take into account when creating a treatment plan, such as the type of cancer, the general health of the patient, species, size, allergies and breed. However, below we have answered some frequently asked questions about pet chemotherapy.
Why and when is chemotherapy recommended for cats and dogs?
Chemotherapy can be the sole treatment for certain cancers in pets, or alternatively used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy.
Duration of chemotherapy treatment depends on the type of cancer and the patient. Some pets will require only a few sessions, whilst others will need to receive sessions for several months. The requirements of your pet will be clearly outlined during a consultation with your veterinarian.
Generally speaking, chemotherapy is recommended in/for most forms of cancer therapy including but not limited to
- After Surgical removal of the cancer as a follow up therapy
- Cases where there is a high chance the cancer is going to spread
- If multiple tumours are present
- If a tumour is in an awkward position, making surgery impossible
- In preparation for surgery, to shrink large tumours
How does chemotherapy treat cancer?
Basically, chemo drugs are designed to attack cells that are in the process of rapid growth- whether by damaging genetic material or preventing cells from dividing.
Chemotherapy drugs cannot distinguish between cancer cells and normal, healthy cells- and side effects associated with chemotherapy treatment are the result of this issue. It is important to understand that the side effects of chemotherapy are rarely permanent, as the normal cells will continue to grow and repair themselves.
What are the side effects of chemotherapy?
Animals actually tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy far better than humans.
Due to the reduced dose of drugs, pets actually experience fewer side effects to chemotherapy than people. Having said that, it’s important to remember that, just like people, an animal can have an unexpected reaction to a medication. Depending on the drugs used for treatment, we will prescribe medications to control side effects or provide important information about home care.
Most affected areas of the body:
- Intestinal lining
- Bone Marrow (generates red and white blood cells)
- Hair follicles
Intestinal lining (gut): The harm is generally mild and usually resolves naturally or with medication that can be given at home.
Bone Marrow: Blood tests are performed a few days before a chemo session to ensure the pet is fit for the treatment, and that their bone marrow is fine. More severe cases of cancer can require hospitalisation, so that white blood cells can be consistently monitored.
Hair Loss: Whilst it is closely associated with chemotherapy side effect in people, hair loss is actually quite uncommon in pets. Only hair that is continually growing is affected, and although some breeds are more prone to this side effect than others, such as poodles, it is still fairly uncommon. Whiskers, especially in cats, often fall out during chemotherapy treatment but do re-grow after the treatment is completed.
How is chemotherapy given?
How a chemotherapeutic drug is administered depends on the pet and the type of cancer. Treatments are generally repeated weekly or monthly and can be in the form of:
- Single intravenous injection
- Slow intravenous infusions
How much does chemotherapy cost?
The cost of chemotherapy varies with the size of your pet, sessions and treatment sessions and if any medications are administered. We understand that costs can quickly mount up, which is why we place great importance on discussing all possible treatment options with pet owners, ensuring that they are aware of every aspect of treatment and support, such as payment plans.
For more information please contact us at Templestowe Veterinary Clinic.
Serving the pet community of the Manningham City Council. The purrfect location for pet parents living in Templestowe Lower, Templestowe, Donvale, Doncaster, Eltham, Manningham and surrounding areas!