Here at the Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital, we are equipped and experienced in chemotherapy treatment. This is an area of special interest for Dr Schild and we have treated dogs and cats for various cancers including lymphoma, leukemias, prostate cancer and tissue tumors. We routinely confer with veterinary cancer specialists on all our patients and are able to refer to specialists as well.
Just like in humans, treatment for cancer in pets has come a long way, thanks to advanced research and new chemotherapy drugs. It is so rewarding to see most of our patients start to feel better in many cases after their very first treatment! Chemotherapy for pets is used primarily to control the cancer cells and prolong the pet’s life while maintaining a good quality of life. In some cases chemotherapy in animals may provide a cure for cancer, but in the majority of cases it is used to improve quality of life and prolong life by putting the pet into remission. Please feel free to cal and speak with Dr Schild or one of our other doctors if you have any questions, we would love to help you and your pet!
How Does Chemotherapy in Pets Work?
Chemotherapy is used mainly on cats and dogs. It can be used to treat a tumor, to eradicate cancer cells that may remain after surgery and to prevent the recurrence of a tumor once it has been surgically removed.
Chemotherapy drugs are usually administered by injection, or occasionally in tablet form. The aim is to kill the cancer cells and prevent the cancer from spreading while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy cells.
Some animals respond better to chemotherapy than others as there are many factors affecting how effective the chemotherapy treatment will be in each individual case. Many pets go on to live a longer life, remaining in remission (disease free) for months or years.. In rare cases a tumor may become resistant to the treatment but usually chemotherapy treatment in pets is positive and worthwhile.
Weighing up all the pros and cons, some pet owners decide that the benefits far outweigh the side effects when considering the quality of life their pet will have after treatment for cancer using chemotherapy.
Possible Side Effects of Chemotherapy for Pets
Most animal owners are concerned about the side effects of chemotherapy on their pets, such as hair loss, sickness and weakness. However, most pets deal with chemotherapy drugs much better than humans. Hair loss in pets is rare. However, animals sometimes temporarily shed their whiskers and grow new ones after the chemotherapy treatment is over. While there can be mild gastrointestinal discomfort in some cases, feeding an easily digestible, bland diet recommended by your veterinarian can help symptoms of nausea. Overall, side effects severe enough to cause hospitalization are relatively rare, occurring in less than 5% of chemotherapy patients.
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, it is important to consult with your veterinarian about the benefits of chemotherapy for his or her particular type of cancer– she will have the proper knowledge and client information for you on deciding whether to begin treatment and how to properly care for your pet during and after chemotherapy.
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