Microsoft word - cancer is common in pet animals.doc

Chemotherapy – Information for the Pet Owner

General Information
Your pet received chemotherapy today. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells and prolong your
pet’s life while maintaining good quality of life. Dogs and cats generally tolerate chemotherapy well, much
better than human cancer patients. If, unexpectedly, severe side effects occur, then the treatment plan will
be changed (different drugs, doses, or schedule) in order to provide good quality of life for your pet.
Routine Monitoring
Most chemotherapeutic drugs have the potential to lower the white blood cell and platelet counts. In order to
determine that the counts do not become too low, we ask that you have a complete blood count (CBC) and
platelet count performed 7-10 days after treatment.
Mild Side Effects of Chemotherapy – Home Management
Please watch your pet carefully, especially for 3-5 days after treatment. If your pet is drinking normally and
is moderately active, then mild side effects can be managed at home. Examples include: occasional vomiting
(< 3 times per day), mild diarrhea, decreased or finicky appetite, and less energy than usual for one to a few
days of each treatment cycle. A bland diet (such as rice, boiled chicken, or eggs, cottage cheese) in small
meals a few times a day could be tried if the pet has an upset stomach. Encouraging the pet to lick ice chips
and drink small amounts of water several times a day, rather than drinking a whole bowl of water at one time,
may also help.
More Severe Side Effects – Veterinary Care Recommended
In a small percentage of pets, side effects of chemotherapy are more severe, and can even become life
threatening. A veterinarian should examine the pet for side effects such as: severe vomiting or diarrhea –
especially that persist for a day or more, profound lack of energy and decreased activity, and fever (>103o
rectally). If more fluid is coming out (through vomiting or diarrhea), than is going in (through drinking), then
dehydration will occur, and the pet should see a veterinarian. Dry or sticky gums or loss of skin elasticity are
signs of dehydration.
Chemotherapy – Protect the People Around Your Pet
Most chemotherapeutic drugs are harmful to normal cells as well as cancer cells. Human exposure to the
drugs should be minimized. Many chemotherapy agents are eliminated from the pet’s body in urine or feces.
To minimize human exposure, encourage your pet to urinate and defecate on well drained surfaces such as
the grass. Wear gloves when picking up pet waste.
If you are giving your pet oral chemotherapy at home, such as cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), chlorambucil
(Leukeran), or CCNU (lomustine), be sure to wear gloves when handling the drug.

Additional Instructions


Please Contact Us if you Have Questions or Concerns
If you have questions or concerns, please call us at 508 -398-7575. During regular hours (8-6pm T-F) please
ask for the oncology technician on duty. After hours or on weekends, please ask for the emergency duty


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