Chemotherapy – Keeping pets and owners together for longer

With 50% of dogs and cats over the age of 10 years developing cancer, chemotherapy is proving a beneficial treatment in the fight against this disease.

At ARH Brisbane we are fortunate to have Australia’s only specialist medical and surgical oncology team, made up of Dr Kathleen O’Connell and Dr Maurine Thomson.

Here they speak about the use of chemotherapy in animals and debunk some of the common fears pet owners have about this form of cancer treatment.

Myth 1 – The side effects of chemotherapy are significant

Unlike chemotherapy in people, side effects of chemotherapy in pets are rare. This is due to the reduced dosage and number of treatments required in animals, compared to the treatment plans used in humans. If side effects do occur we can often manage them at home, rarely do pets need a stay in hospital.

Three vets giving dog chemotherapy injection

Myth 2 – Chemotherapy treatment is time intensive for pets and owners

Chemotherapy options include injectable and oral forms and can be used to try and cure the cancer or provide palliative care. This means that some pets are managed from home, with only occasional blood tests being performed at the clinic. Appointments and treatments are tailored to each pet providing individualised treatment. Treatment is provided as quickly as possible to minimise the time a pet is in hospital.

Myth 3 – Chemotherapy treatment causes anxiety in pets

Chemotherapy performed at ARH is a different experience to what people expect. We have a specialised room to administer chemotherapy which makes it safe for pets and our vets and nurses. Pets are spoiled when they come in for chemotherapy with lots of cuddles and treats. Some think of their chemotherapy more as an exciting outing than a trip to the vet.

Myth 4 – The aim of chemotherapy is to cure cancer

While there is not always a cure for every cancer, our goal in treatment is to maintain a pet’s quality of life for as long as possible making sure we provide comfort and pain free management.

Palliative care chemotherapy can provide symptom relief, pain reduction, improved mobility and longevity regardless of the type of cancer or how long a pet is expected to live. This allows families to spend more precious time with their much loved pets and gives owners a sense of control over their pet’s treatment.

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