- Is chemotherapy dangerous?
Generally spoken, each chemotherapy which is given to pets is potentially causing cancer in humans. Especially pregnant women and small children are endangered, because their body is still in growth. The amount of chemotherapeutic drugs excreted through urine and feces of a treated animal is very low. Despite this fact caution should be taken. Children should not get in touch with feces and urine of a treated animal.
- Does an animal need anesthesia for intravenous chemotherapy administration?
Usually this is not necessary. If an animal is very nervous or aggressive, we may put it under sedation for its own protection, because most chemotherapeutic drugs are highly irritating to surrounding tissue if applied out of the vein. A total anesthesia is almost never necessary.
- How do animals tolerate chemotherapy?
Generally very well. About 60% of all patients experience no side effects at all, another 30% show only mild side effects like fatigue and slightly decreased appetite. Only 5 to 10% of all patients experience severe side effects like long-lasting vomiting or diarrhea and may be hospitalized to avoid dehydration. They are normally quickly stabilised and can go home within 12 hours. Only 0.05% of all patients dies as a result of chemotherapy side effects.
- What side effects do I have to expect with chemotherapy treatment?
Generally, chemotherapeutic drugs attack all fast growing cells. The most rapidly growing cells are tumor cells. However, also gastro-intestinal cells are rapidly dividing, therefore mild gastro-intestinal discomfort is possible: usually animals only show a mild decrease in appetite, only rarely vomiting and diarrhea are seen. These mild side effects can easily be treated.
Bone marrow cells (which are the precursors of blood cells) are also fast dividing and are also attacked by chemotherapeutic drugs. As a result, the patient's immune system may be weakened. To avoid spontaneous infections, blood checks have to be made regularly in animals undergoing chemotherapy.