in Gilbert, AZ
Pet Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of many cancers to kill tumor cells and improve survival times in dogs and cats with cancer. Our first and foremost goal is to be as aggressive as possible, but to balance that with maintaining a good quality of life with minimal side effects. Chemotherapy is generally very well tolerated by most dogs and cats, with only about 10 to 15% of patients experiencing side effects. In general, the most common side effects of chemotherapy are mild gastrointestinal effects (decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) and bone marrow suppression (most commonly a decrease in the white blood cell count or platelets). We will check bloodwork before every dose of chemotherapy to make sure that the cell counts are in a safe range for treatment. We may also ask you to have bloodwork checked in between treatments in some cases (usually these can be done with your family veterinarian). Some drugs can also affect the liver or kidneys, so we may need to check these before treatments as well. Please refer to the web pages for each chemotherapy medication which will discuss any other side effects that may be seen with each drug.
What Are The Types of Pet Chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy medications come in many different forms. Some medications are given at home, by mouth, often in a small treat for your pet. Sometimes these medications can even be made into a formula that is a liquid and that tastes good, so your friend doesn’t mind receiving them. Other medications must be given by injection. Some injections must be given into the vein, but some are given under the skin. Most of the time, your pet is held while wide awake by one of our staff members for the injection. Some of the injections are very fast but other must be given over 20 to 30 minutes. A catheter may need to be placed into a vein which will require a small patch of fur be shaved.
This is a non-invasive process that will allow us to have a better look at your pet's condition. So with this process, we will visually see what are the main problems with your dog and we will do our best to fix them. If you're interested in this service you can schedule an appointment today.
Possible Side Effects of Pet Chemotherapy:
- Changes to Haircoat, Loss of Whiskers or Eyelashes (Very Rare)
- Nausea Symptoms Including Drooling & Lack of Appetite
- Possible Vomiting May Occur
How Can My Pets Haircoat Change?
Dogs & cats almost never lose their hair following pet chemotherapy. Sometimes the hair changes consistency. For example, a curly haired dog might see a shift to straighter hair and vice versa. Also, there is a very rare possibility that they will lose whiskers or eyelashes as a side effect of treatment.
What to Do in Case of Nausea:
Encourage your pet to eat with small meals of a bland diet such as boiled chicken breast, ground turkey, or rice.
If your pet was prescribed an anti-nausea medication, such as Cerenia or Metoclopramide, you can give this. If not, please call us at (480) 327-6690 and we often prescribe something.
What to Do in Case of Vomiting:
After an episode of vomiting, please hold off giving your pet food or water for 4 to 6 hours, then try introducing small amounts of water and/or ice cubes. If your pet drinks and does not vomit, you can try introducing small, frequent meals of a bland diet such as cooked chicken breast, ground turkey, or rice.
If your pet was prescribed an anti-vomiting medication, such as Cerenia or Metoclopramide, you can give this. If not, please call us at (480) 327-6690 and we often prescribe something.
If vomiting persists, or your pet's condition is deteriorating, please call the hospital or emergency service immediately, as more aggressive treatment may be needed.
What to Do in Case of Diarrhea:
If your pet is suffering from diarrhea please introduce them to a bland diet such as cooked chicken breast, ground turkey, or rice. This diet can be alone or with the normal diet.
Additionally, if your pet was prescribed anti-diarrhea medication, such as metronidazole, then you can go ahead and use this for 2 to 3 days or as needed - if you do not have any medication at home please call us at (480) 327-6690 and we can prescribe something.
If there is any blood in the stool, or if the diarrhea does not resolve within 3 or 4 days please call our office for further assistance.
What to Do in Case of Fever:
Depending on the pet chemotherapy drug, the white blood cell count can reach its lowest point between 7 and 14 days after treatment. The main risk during this time, if the white blood cell count goes extremely low, is infection. Infection may cause lethargy and a fever.
If you are concerned about your pet, you can monitor their temperature rectally at home. You can use a human digital thermometer and lubricate the tip with KY jelly or vaseline. A normal rectal temperature is 100°F to 102°F. If your pet's temperature is over 103°F, he/she should be seen by our team.
A fever secondary to infection due to a low white blood cell count is an emergency, call us at (480) 327-6690 and we can get a same day appointment for loved one.
How to Handle Pet Chemotherapy at Home:
Chemotherapy in dogs & cats is always scary to think about but with all the advancements in the medications available to us, most tolerate it extremely well. Please give our team at Arizona Veterinary Oncology a call today at (480) 327-6690 to schedule an appointment to discuss what is best for your pet.
Pet Chemotherapy drugs have the potential to cause damage to normal cells. Exposure to chemotherapy drugs or patient waste can pose a risk, despite the fact that the concentrations of drugs are very low.
There is no real risk associated with routine contact with your pet such as grooming, playing, or handling of food and water bowls. Infants, immunosuppressed individuals (examples-HIV and/or cancer patients receiving therapy), and women who are pregnant or nursing should not be disposing of or handling the animal’s urine or feces.
Certain chemotherapy drugs and their by-products may be excreted in the feces or urine for up to 96 hours following administration. Should your pet have an accident in the house, wear disposable rubber or latex gloves, blot the area with flushable paper, and clean the area twice with a detergent solution. If you are administering chemotherapy pills at home, wear disposable latex gloves when handling the pills and wash your hands after handling.
Do not break, or crush, or open the capsules. It is important that these medications be kept out of the reach of children. Should accidental ingestion of chemotherapeutic drugs occur, contact a poison control center immediately. Should any unused chemotherapy drugs remain after treatment, please return them to the oncologist so that they can be disposed of safely.