Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments for dogs with cancer. In some cases, it can help to extend a dog’s life or even cure them of their cancer altogether. But is it possible for chemo to kill a dog?
“Went to the vet today and my dog passed away. She was such a good girl and I’m heartbroken. The vet thinks it was because of the chemo. RIP sweet girl.”
“In my dog’s case, she had a tumor in her nasal cavity that was causing nosebleeds and breathing problems. Her oncologist and I discussed the risks and benefits of the treatment, and I decided that it was worth the risk because her tumor was growing rapidly. But three days into the chemotherapy treatment, she stopped eating and drinking, which quickly led to kidney failure. We rushed her back to the vet, hoping that we could save her with fluids and drugs. We almost did. But two days later, she died anyway. I was devastated. My dog’s death was sudden and unexpected — even though I knew that chemo treatments could be risky from the start.”
“This is the story of my dog, Roxy. She was diagnosed with cancer about 6 months ago. After consulting with my vet, I decided to take her off all the chemo meds she had been taking for months. I know that sounds crazy to some people but there are many cases where dogs survive for years after chemo has stopped working and dogs have lived longer than expected before starting chemo. I knew Roxy was going downhill fast but I didn’t want her to suffer anymore so I made the decision to let her go. The vet said he could give her another round of chemo which might help or he could just let nature take its course and see how long she would last without treatment. I decided on the latter because I wanted Roxy to be comfortable as long as possible without any more pain or discomfort from chemo treatments which were not working anyway.”
Can chemotherapy kill a dog?
The short answer is yes, in theory, chemo can kill your dog. This can happen in two ways: by killing too much healthy tissue and by weakening their immune system so much that it becomes impossible for them to fight off diseases.
In dogs, the treatments are not always effective and they can result in further complications during chemotherapy. The goal of chemotherapy is the killing of cancerous cells, but it also destroys healthy cells in your dog’s body, which can cause organ failure.
Studies have shown that if the pet has a preexisting heart condition, chemotherapy can make it worse. The severity of this depends on what drug is given and how much.
In addition to heart problems, chemotherapy can cause kidney failure and liver damage. If your dog has an underlying kidney or liver problem, these drugs may make it worse.
You may want to talk to your vet about what you can expect during treatment. It might help if you ask specifically about how this treatment will affect your dog’s health and how it will impact his quality of life.
What are the side effects of chemo on dogs?
Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing down the growth of cells. It kills cancer cells but can also damage healthy cells — like hair follicles or those found in the digestive tract — depending on which drugs are used and which cells are targeted. This can lead to side effects like hair loss, vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, and fatigue.
- Infection: When the body’s defenses are down, the risk of infection is high. Chemotherapy can increase the risk of infection in dogs, so owners should keep an eye out for symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting.
- Nausea and vomiting: Many chemotherapy drugs cause nausea and vomiting. If your dog experiences these side effects, it’s important to contact your vet immediately, as excessive vomiting can lead to additional complications such as dehydration.
- Diarrhea: Chemotherapy can also cause diarrhea, which like nausea and vomiting can lead to dehydration if not managed properly.
- Loss of appetite: Chemotherapy drugs also often cause a loss of appetite in dogs — a serious side effect that can lead to weight loss and other health problems if not addressed quickly.
- Excessive thirst and urination: If you notice that your dog is drinking or urinating more than usual during chemotherapy, this may indicate an underlying issue with the kidneys or liver. Contact your vet right away if you notice either of these symptoms.
- Increased fatigue: Dogs undergoing chemotherapy will often experience increased fatigue during treatment. While this is normal, they shouldn’t be lethargic; if your dog seems excessively tired or listless, talk to your veterinarian right away.
Chemotherapy drugs can damage the bone marrow causing decreased red blood cell and platelet levels, which may result in anemia and bruising or bleeding more easily than usual. Decreased white blood cell levels (when bone marrow is harmed) make dogs more susceptible to infections.
Most side effects will resolve after treatment, but your dog should be seen by your veterinarian if they do not improve over several days because additional treatment may be necessary.
How long do dogs live after chemotherapy?
The average survival with chemo treatments is typically 10-12 months, although some dogs have been known to live years. This greatly depends on the type and stage of cancer and how aggressive it is. Some tumors respond better to chemo than others.
At some point, however, most dogs with cancer will relapse. This is where maintenance therapy comes in; it helps keep the cancer under control and extends survival time after initial treatments are completed.
Is chemo hard on a dog?
The short answer is yes, it is hard. Chemotherapy can cause dogs to become sick or nauseous, it can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and hair loss. The dog may also become very tired.
If your dog develops nausea from chemotherapy and does not want to eat, the vet will prescribe anti-nausea medication to prevent or relieve it.
On the other hand, if a dog is not treated for cancer with chemotherapy, the disease will progress and the dog will be much more uncomfortable.
Can a dog on chemo lick you?
The answer is yes, a dog on chemotherapy can lick you! In fact, it may be the best medicine for your dog. Licking releases endorphins that promote healing and are a natural pain reliever. It’s always a good idea to wash your face after any dog licks you.
Cost of chemotherapy for dogs
The cost of chemotherapy for cats and dogs varies widely depending on the type, protocol, and length of treatment. The total cost is between $100 and $500 per dose. Protocols involving multiple drugs are generally more expensive than single-drug protocols.
Chemotherapy is not always the best option for pets. In some cases, it may actually be contraindicated because the side effects it causes could outweigh its potential benefits. Because chemotherapy is not a cure for cancer in many cases, it is important to weigh the costs against the potential risks as well as benefits.
What should I feed my dog after chemotherapy?
During cancer treatment and recovery, it is important to provide your canine companion with a diet that is full of easy-to-digest fatty proteins like chicken, turkey, pork, fish, and eggs.
You can also feed your dog a small amount of cooked sweet potato or squash. You can also add probiotics to his food to help repopulate his gut with healthy bacteria.
Some dogs will do fine on commercial foods after chemotherapy. Others may need to switch to a homemade diet that is easier for them to digest. If you are feeding your dog a commercial diet, try adding canned pumpkin to each meal. This can help firm up loose stools.
Your vet may recommend an anti-nausea medication to help manage the side effects of chemo. The medication prescribed will depend on your dog’s diagnosis and other medications they are taking.
If your dog is having diarrhea with the diet changes, talk with your vet about which over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medications might be safe for your pet.
You’ll want to avoid any foods that might irritate your dog’s gastrointestinal tract or be difficult for him to digest. That includes highly acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits as well as high-fat foods.
Takeaway: If your dog is undergoing chemotherapy, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian about their nutritional needs before choosing a commercial or homemade diet plan.
Conclusion of Chemo for dogs
“It’s been a rough six months, but I think this is the beginning of the end. My dog has had all his chemo treatments with no complications. He has gained back some of his weight and energy level; he has also regained his appetite. His tumor is still there, but it has stopped growing and is starting to shrink. His blood work looks good and he is feeling better. I’m very happy with the results of the treatments.”
Chemotherapy is not a cure for cancer. It is a treatment, usually combined with other treatments and therapies, to help manage the disease and improve the quality of life.
Chemotherapy is often used in addition to surgery or radiation therapy to help eradicate cancer cells that may have migrated away from the primary tumor. It may be used prior to surgery or radiation therapy to shrink tumors and make them easier to remove or target. Chemotherapy can also be used after surgery or radiation therapy as a way of killing any remaining cancer cells.
For dogs that are suffering from incurable cancers, chemotherapy can be used to slow the rate at which their disease progresses and/or reduce the severity of clinical signs, thereby improving quality of life (QOL) for longer periods of time.
Chemotherapy for dogs can be a life-saving treatment for many different types of cancer. It can be administered in many different ways, but the most common way is intravenously (IV).
The IV chemotherapy drugs are injected into a vein in your dog’s leg or neck where they travel through their bloodstream directly to the tumor site. In addition, chemotherapy can be given orally by mouth as pills or capsules which are swallowed whole without chewing or breaking them open. These medications will also travel through their digestive system to reach the tumor site after being absorbed into body tissues like liver and fat cells before entering into circulation through lymphatic vessels around lymph nodes near large blood vessels.
Chemotherapy is a very useful tool for the treatment of cancer in dogs. Like any treatment, it can have side effects that need to be monitored by a veterinarian. If you suspect that your pet is experiencing side effects, contact your vet immediately. If you feel that your pet’s quality of life has deteriorated to an unacceptable level, discuss with your vet the option of discontinuing treatment.