Although the majority of cancers in our animals are still being treated with surgery, sometimes other kinds of treatment are necessary.
Several tumour types can now be treated with chemotherapy. Veterinary Chemotherapy treatment must be administered according to special protocols. Apart from their effect on the tumour these drugs also have some disadvantages, which are important for you to realise.
As the owner of the animal you must discuss all advantages and disadvantages with your Veterinary Surgeon and carefully make a decision. As each type of tumour has its own special treatment, no specific detailed information can be given in this leaflet. Some general considerations are listed below.
Although your Veterinary Surgeon will do everything to prevent side effects, some animals may still suffer side effects during the chemotherapy protocol. Vomiting and diarrhoea and increased susceptibility for infection are some of the more frequent side effects. Usually they are seen much less often than in humans.
If your pet becomes ill after administration of chemotherapy, contact your Veterinary Surgeon who can then treat these side effects and perhaps adapt the protocol.
The strange thing about cytotoxic drugs is that, although used for treatment of cancer, many of them can also cause cancer. You should always try to prevent direct contact with these drugs.
After administration of the drug to your pet, these drugs will be excreted. This means that all excreta (vomit, faeces, urine), but also saliva can be contaminated starting immediately after the drug has been given.
Although it is not exactly known how long the patients will be excreting these drugs, a period of 7 days must be taken as a period of risk. Nobody can tell us exactly how dangerous the excretion will be, but under no circumstances should any risk be taken.
Therefore, prevent unnecessary direct contact with your animal during the period of risk. When you clean up any excreta from your pet during this period, use the special gloves you have been provided and discard in a separate waste bag.
Children and pregnant women are especially sensitive to the carcinogenic effect of these drugs. Children must be told to leave the pet alone during this period of risk. In the case of pregnant women, extra precautions should be taken in the house and it may be preferable to re-home the animal temporarily or arrange for the pet to stay at the Veterinary Hospital throughout this risk period.
Chemotherapy drugs are usually expensive drugs because of the way they are produced. These drugs have to be prepared in special safety cabinets and all persons involved in preparation and administration must wear protective clothes. The whole process takes up a large amount of time and staff.
Additional costs can be made if blood tests, X-rays or other diagnostics are indicated. If your pet is insured these costs may be met by your insurance company.
For more information on cancer in animals or chemotherapy in animals, contact the Spinney Vets team on 01604 648221. If you are enquiring about insurance for pet chemotherapy you can ask to speak to our insurance team for advice.