11 Pros and Cons of Chemotherapy for Dogs


Dogs are not just considered as favorite pets but they are often an integral part of a family. A pet dog is often treated as just another family member, with as much care and love. It is thus imperative to feel aggrieved when your dog gets diagnosed with cancer. Though less common than in humans, dogs are at the risk of various types of cancer. As is the case with humans, cancer is not exactly curable. The symptoms can be managed, malignant tumors can be removed with the help of surgery and the lifespan can be prolonged with the help of treatments such as chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy for dogs is not very different from humans but the dosage is much inferior and the approach to chemotherapy treatment is substantially customized. There are certain pros and cons of chemotherapy for dogs and you must weigh the advantages and disadvantages to ascertain if it is worthwhile.

List of Pros of Chemotherapy for Dogs

1. Cancer is Treatable
Let us first understand the scope of cancer in dogs. If you talk to vets then you would know that they don’t consider cancer to be as incurable or as fatal a condition in dogs as it is for humans. Cancer for dogs is a chronic condition which is relatively treatable. Hence, considering a treatment that can cure your pet is certainly a desirable move.

2. Growing Awareness
There is no dearth of vets today who are trained in chemotherapy for dogs. The facilities and the increasing awareness have reduced the risks associated with chemotherapy for dogs.

3. Most Effective Option Available
Chemotherapy is the most effective treatment for cancer in dogs. There is no better treatment. Of course, vets will advice a combination of treatment. You would be asked to opt for radiation, surgery and immunotherapy in addition to chemotherapy. Surgery can successfully get rid of malignant tumors. Immunotherapy will help your pet to recuperate and radiation coupled with chemotherapy will help in managing the symptoms.

4. Cancer May Recur
Tumors can always recur and cancerous cells can always start to regenerate. Chemotherapy is an effective way to avert such recurrences. Immunotherapy or other medications will not help in the prevention of recurrence. In that sense, chemotherapy is unavoidable and it is indeed a remedy for cancer in dogs.

5. Immediately Take Effect
In many cases, dogs undergo a massive change and can perk up immediately after just a few chemo sessions.

List of Cons of Chemotherapy for Dogs

1. May Not Prolong Lifespan
There are many cons of chemotherapy for dogs but the most concerning one is that it doesn’t always prolong the lifespan of pets. Unlike in humans, the dosage used in chemotherapy is so weak that it has no power to increase the lifespan of dogs. Like humans, dogs would have a better quality of life with chemo but there is no guarantee or even a claim that your dog will live longer.

2. Lack of Communication
One discomforting fact about chemotherapy for dogs is that your pet wouldn’t be able to show or express if it is benefiting from chemotherapy or is in increasing discomfort. It is quite possible that the dog would be reacting negatively to chemo and it may not even know or show any signs to that effect. In the process, you may continue with chemo without actually helping your dog. The intervention and advice of the vet is of paramount significance in such a situation.

3. Expensive Option
Chemotherapy is expensive. Many families don’t manage to afford that for their loved ones. Affording chemo for dogs is not something everyone would be comfortable with. That is a huge hindrance, especially for families that don’t have some financial challenges.

4. Side Effects
Chemotherapy for dogs has several side effects. Dogs would lose hair, they would also lose weight, gastrointestinal problems are extremely common and a dog may also be dozy, broody and weak. Dogs generally don’t fall sick or remain bedridden after chemo sessions but they do not always regain an active lifestyle.

5. Locating a Qualified Veterinarian
Finding a very good vet may be a challenge. Not everyone lives in large cities where there are scores of vets who are experts at chemotherapy for dogs. In such circumstances, it is recommended to consider your choices very carefully. A wrong choice of vet followed with an improperly planned chemo treatment can do more harm than good to your pet. You may end up spending a lot of money without even an iota of improvement in your dog’s health.

6. Time Consuming
The whole treatment is time consuming and a family would have to be extremely involved in each step. Dogs cannot communicate and a family may not be able to invest in round the clock care. Someone would have to observe the subtle and obvious signs in the dog when the treatment is underway and such signs or reactions in the dog would have to be reported to the vet. Else, the treatment can be ineffective in the end. Such level of investment may not be practically possible for every family.