FAQs about Chemotherapy

Frequently Asked Questions

Will my pet's hair or whiskers fall out with chemotherapy?
Most animals do not experience hair loss. Shaved areas will grow back slowly. Cats may lose their whiskers and guard hairs. Dogs that need to be clipped and groomed, such as poodles, terriers, etc., are likely to have mild to moderate hair loss. The hair loss tends to be worse following treatment with Adriamycin. The hair will re-grow once the treatments have finished. Occasionally the hair will grow back a different texture or color. This is a cosmetic side effect only and does not negatively affect the quality of your pet's life.

Will my pet get sick from chemotherapy?
Our goal at the Veterinary Cancer Group is to provide the best quality of life possible for as long as possible. The drug dosages used in veterinary medicine do not cause side effects in most animals. Despite this, there is a slight risk of side effects and a small percentage of animals may become ill after chemotherapy. Most side effects occur during the first few days of therapy, although they can occur at any time during treatment. If your pet does have side effects, the drug type or dosage will be modified to minimize the chance of side effects recurring. Signs of illness can range from a slight decrease in energy and appetite to lethargy, anorexia, diarrhea, and vomiting. Typically, over-the-counter medications are all that is needed if side effects should occur.

Do I need to take precautions regarding myself, my family, or other pets while my pet is on chemotherapy?
For orally administered chemotherapy drugs, it is important that the capsules or pills are kept out of the reach of children. If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or nursing, try to arrange for someone else to administer them. Most oral drugs have a protective coating, but we recommend that latex or polyvinyl gloves be worn when handling these medications. It is very important not to cut the pills into pieces or open the capsules, as this can increase the risk of exposure.

Can flea and tick control or heartworm prevention be used while the pet is receiving chemo?
Yes, many of our patients receive Advantage, Frontline, Program or other flea/tick preventative while on chemotherapy. There have been no reports of contraindications using these products with receiving chemotherapy. Do consult with your family veterinarian for their product recommendations.