Chemotherapy for Dogs and Cats: Understanding the Treatment Experience

When a beloved animal is given a diagnosis of cancer, the effect on the animal’s family can be devastating, marked by confusion and sadness. It is important to understand the treatments that are available for an animal’s cancer. The veterinarian may recommend chemotherapy, either alone or in combination with other treatments, as part of your pet’s cancer management. The thought of chemotherapy strikes fear in the hearts of animal owners, based on the human experience of undergoing chemotherapy. Everyone’s lives are touched by cancer in some way, and yet an animal’s experience will be different from a human’s experience, in several ways.

“While the chemotherapy drugs used for both human and pet cancers are the same, the treatment experience is often drastically different,” explains Kimberly Reeds, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Oncology), of Holland’s Veterinary Referral Hospital in Oklahoma City. “In humans, the goal of cancer treatment is to cure. While many patients experience long survival times, they also experience severe treatment side effects.”

“Unfortunately, cancer is rarely cured in pets,” adds Dr. Reeds, “and the goal of cancer treatment is to provide relief from cancer symptoms, while also providing an acceptable quality of life for as long as possible.”

For more information about treatment options, please call us directly at (604) 870-9333.