Unfortunately, cancer is not just a human condition. An estimated 6 million dogs and almost 6 million cats are diagnosed with cancer each year, and cancer is the leading cause of death in 47% of dogs. As you might expect, a cancer diagnosis can be devastating for a loving and dedicated pet owner. However, thanks to advances in modern veterinary medicine, pets today have a better chance of being successfully treated for cancer than ever before.
Chemotherapy is well known as a cancer treatment for humans, but did you know that it is also very successful in helping animals that have been diagnosed with cancer too? There are lots of different types of cancer that can affect our animals, with some being more common than others. The 5 most common cancers in canines include mast cell tumors, melanoma, lymphoma, bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma. Meanwhile, the 3 most common cat cancers include lymphoma, soft-tissue sarcoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. The good news is that chemotherapy is a very effective way of controlling most pet cancers.
Chemotherapy is a chemical agent that is highly toxic to cancer cells. When chemotherapy enters your pet’s body, it will kill any cells that are actively dividing – which is the key characteristic of a cancer cell. Whilst some normal cells can also be damaged, these are typically better at repairing themselves than the cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given as a standalone treatment or used in conjunction with other anti-cancer therapies such as radiation. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or using tablets which will be hidden in your pet’s food for them to take.
There are primarily two key benefits for your pet when they undergo chemotherapy treatment. These are:
The primary goal of chemotherapy treatment is to extend the life of your pet as much as possible. With their shorter lifespan, pets who develop cancer will almost certainly be subject to their disease progressing more rapidly than it might in humans. In most cases, when your vet recommends chemotherapy treatment, it is to delay or prevent the growth or spread of cancer, rather than necessarily eliminating it. However, by controlling the development of cancer, your adored animal could potentially live longer.
One of the main goals of chemotherapy is to improve your pet’s quality of life. This may seem counterproductive when you consider how sick chemotherapy can make humans, but the truth is that the vast majority of cats and dogs can handle chemotherapy without experiencing any major side effects. However, in many cases, chemotherapy can make your pet’s cancer symptoms much more manageable, which will enhance their quality of life.
If you would like more information about chemotherapy for pets, or to schedule an appointment for your precious pet, please contact our compassionate and dedicated veterinary team tod