Chemotherapy is a word nobody likes to hear.
It can, however, be life extending. And it might mean more precious time with a loved one — be it person or pet.
We have about 5 to 10 patients in our hospital who are receiving some form of chemotherapy. Most times it is tolerated remarkably well and is not cost prohibitive.
You see, in our animal patients the goal with chemo is usually not a complete cure but a good, solid remission. That means the cancer is, hopefully, chased away for many months or longer and your pet can still maintain a relatively good quality of life. Are there side effects? Sure. What are they? Depends on the drugs that are chosen. The most common ones are an upset tummy, diarrhea and a increased risk of infection.
I have never seen an animal lose its hair to chemotherapy because we don’t use the aggressive doses used in human treatments.Most folks who chose chemo for their pets are glad they did. I asked the owners of one of my favorite chemo patients, Spencer the Beagle, if they would do it all over again. Spencer just finished a course of chemo that lasted several months. For a while, she endured weekly visits to the vet and experienced a few complications along the way (bladder infections,anemia, tummy troubles). She is now in remission.
“Absolutely!” they replied, without hesitation.
So if your veterinarian gives you the crushing news that your pet has been diagnosed with a type of cancer that responds well to chemotherapy, approach it with an open mind.
Most of my clients are glad they did.