What to Expect with Chemotherapy

What to Expect


Chemotherapy schedules are tailored to each patient’s needs. Treatments may be given weekly or less often. Most treatments are given in the hospital but some are administered at home.


Anti-cancer drugs can be administered via the following routes, although not all drugs can be administered by every route.

Oral: Given by mouth and absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract

Intravenous: Injected directly into the bloodstream through an intravenous catheter; this is the most common way chemotherapy is administered

Subcutaneous: Injected under the skin

Intralesional: Injected directly into the tumor or surgical site

Intramuscular: Injected into a muscle

Intracavitary: Injected directly into the chest or abdomen

Side Effects

With the drug dosages used in veterinary medicine, most pets experience minimal to no side effects. A small percentage of animals do become ill after receiving chemotherapy. Side effects most commonly occur 2-3 days following treatment but could occur the day of treatment until 10-14 days later.

Potential side effects may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, fever, bloody urine, hair loss. If your pet does experience side effects, medications may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms. Your oncologist may also recommend prophylactic (preventative) medications or alter the drug type or dosage to decrease the likelihood of side effects from subsequent treatments.


Cancer is a disease that can be managed much like other diseases.