Dogs being diagnosed with cancer, is one of the hardest things for pet parents to deal with. Chemotherapy is effective and, in many cases, the dog might end up getting saved successfully.
Chemotherapy and Its Importance
Chemotherapy involves a set of drugs that kill the cancerous cells in the body. The dose of chemotherapy that is apt for your dog, will depend on the type of cancer and the health of the dog.
Chemotherapy has many side effects on the body and the body may not be able to endure too high dosage of the drugs.
The doctor must be consulted before taking any step. If the doctor suggests, the dosage may be regulated and depending on the effect of the drug on the body, the drug may also be changed.
Chemotherapy is devised on dogs suffering from lymphoma or other malignancies. It is usually used to treat cancer that easily spreads to other parts of the body. This procedure of the cancer spreading is called metastasis.
The application of chemotherapy depends on many other factors too. If it is a single tumor and the doctor finds it fit, the tumor can be removed by surgery. In such cases chemotherapy is not advised.
However, if there are chances of the tumor re-growing there, then chemotherapy needs to be applied.
Before applying chemotherapy, one must ensure that the dog is fit enough to endure the chemotherapy. This process has many side effects and often weakens the body.
Hence the dog has to be healthy enough to endure chemotherapy. If not, the doctors will suggest alternatives.
Chemotherapy is much different in dogs than what it is in humans. It is much less aggressively demonstrated in dogs than in humans.
Cost and Coverage of Costs for Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is a costly treatment and the cost varies depending upon the type of cancer, the drugs that are being used, the place and the duration of the treatment.
- On an average, chemotherapy can cost anywhere between 3400$ to 10000$.
- There are also more pocket friendly options available, such as injections which cost 30$ approximately. These are just about as effective as a chemotherapy session.
- The doctors have options for all budgets.
- Chemotherapy may burn a hole in your pocket in the long run and it is recommended that one should get a health insurance for the dog.
- In most cases, the insurance company bears a great deal of the charges for the treatment of the dog. There are various insurance policies available. Once can choose a policy based on the illness it covers, health plans and more.
Routine To Be Followed During Chemotherapy
Chemotherapies are always administered very carefully and health of the dog is the top priority.
Usually, during chemotherapy the drugs are injected in the body much like a vaccine. In some cases, the drugs are injected through the veins, also known as intravenous injections.
In other cases, oral chemotherapy is also given to dogs. The chemotherapy is followed up by continuous checks on the dog’s health and blood examinations.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy on The Dogs
Dogs face similar side effects to humans on being exposed to chemotherapy. However, the degree of the effects is much lesser, since the drugs are administered in much lower doses. About 70% to 80% of the dogs experience no side effects of chemotherapy.
- The common side effects of chemotherapy can be vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
- These symptoms last for a day or two.
- In case, the dog shows any of these symptoms, it should be taken to the doctor to receive more fluids.
- However, if the symptoms persist for more than two days, a doctor should be consulted immediately and the next part of the treatment should be discussed.
- The drugs used for chemotherapy, usually kills both cancerous and non-cancerous cells in the body. In this case the bone marrow of the dog might lose a few blood cells, resulting in such symptoms.
- These drugs kill white blood cells in the body. White blood cells function to keep the body immune against infections. The dog is exposed to risks of infection. Hence, the symptoms are very similar to that of infection.
- Upon the advice of the doctor, the drugs may be altered too, if it affects the dog too much.
- In most human beings, there is a loss of hair. In dogs, they may shed their coat but it grows back very quickly.
Duration and Dosages
Most treatment involves dosages of the prescribed drugs once a week to once in three weeks. The treatment may last for a few months to a few years, depending on the type of illness.
For example, the treatment for lymphoma lasts for about sixteen to twenty-four weeks. However, if the cancer keeps on growing back, then the treatment should be continued for prolonged durations, stopping in-between, when the body is free of cancerous cells.
In some cases, the growing of the tumor can be prevented even by using a continuous three-month treatment.
Safety Precautions to be Followed While the Dog is on Chemotherapy
One must be very careful while cleaning the wastes. The drugs are excreted through urination and feces and might be dangerous for the human beings. Gloves must be used to clean wastes.
Alternative Treatments for Dogs diagnosed Cancer
There are many alternatives to chemotherapy that may be devised on dogs. However, a doctor must be consulted first before taking.
Chemotherapy has advanced with year and new technologies are being introduced every day, keeping in mind, that the illness is healed, affecting the immune system the least.
Progress is being made at a very fast rate and better treatment is expected in the future. Researches are being conducted and funded all around the world to improve the techniques used in chemotherapy.
The main focus of these researches is to reduce the side effects of the drugs on the body of the dogs. Often chemotherapy is combined with various other forms of treatment such as radiations and oral medications to treat the illness.