We are proud to be able to provide chemotherapy to our patients in our state of the art oncology facility. Here are a few questions you may be asking in anticipation of starting chemotherapy.

Q: How does chemotherapy work?

A: Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking rapidly dividing cells, which are common in most types of cancer. Most chemotherapy agents are injectable medications that have to be given by specially trained chemotherapy nurses in the hospital, others are oral medications that can be given at the hospital or at home in some cases. At VCA Raleigh Hills, we have a specialized area to treat our chemotherapy patients that is separate from the rest of the hospital that ensures safety as well as a calming environment for your pet. We also have specialized equipment to keep your pet, you, and our staff safe while administering chemotherapy.

Q: Are there side effects when giving chemotherapy?

A: Because we use smaller doses in our animal patients there are minimal if any side effects. Only about 20% of animal patients have side and of those only about 5% will have severe side effects that could potentially put them in the hospital. Side effects may include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and decreased white blood cell count. Oral medications can be given to help with appetite, nausea or diarrhea and we proactively check a blood count one week after chemotherapy to make sure the white blood cells are okay.

Q: Am I at risk if my pet has chemotherapy?

A: With most chemotherapy agents there are byproducts that are processed by the body and eliminated either through stool or urine. Most are processed to the point that they have little to no affect on other animals or people. There are some medications, that when eliminated from the body, can potentially cause harm to humans and other animals and your oncologist will let you know what precautions to take and if you are at risk. If any precautions should be taken they are usually to pick up stool right away and limit any exposure of stool and urine from pregnant or nursing women. A few take home medications should be given with gloves and it is always a good habit to wash your hands after giving any oral medications.

For more information please visit our Specialty site.