While essential for life, cell proliferation can sometimes go awry, leading to abnormal tissues and cancer in our cherished pets. Regarding cancer treatment, chemotherapy is vital in targeting these abnormal and rapidly growing cells. However, it's crucial to understand the potential side effects and remedies to ensure your beloved companion's comfort and well-being during their cancer treatment journey.
Differentiating Between Pet and Human Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy for pets is tailored to their unique needs. We aim to provide them with the best possible quality of life while extending their time with us. Fortunately, chemotherapy is generally safe for most pets, although they may experience fatigue or nausea. In such cases, your oncologist may prescribe Cerenia, a medication designed to combat motion sickness and alleviate chemotherapy-induced nausea and fatigue.
Common Side Effects and Their Remedies
- Loss of Appetite
It's not uncommon for pets undergoing chemotherapy to experience a loss of appetite, which can indicate nausea if it persists for over two days. In such cases, anti-nausea medication may be prescribed. Encourage your pet to eat by offering small, frequent meals. Stick to their regular diet but add bland items such as white rice, boiled potatoes, cottage cheese, low-fat yoghurt, cooked eggs, or canned food for kibble-eating pets to entice them to eat (do ensure they are not allergic to the items before introducing. If you’re unsure, test a small amount first then gradually increase the quantity.
If your pet vomits, monitor for further vomiting and note down what the vomit looks like. Try to offer bland food but ideally continue offering their usual diet in small frequent amounts until they are back to normal, then feed as per usual schedule. If vomiting persists, consult your veterinarian for a prescription of anti-nausea medication.
Chemotherapy can lead to bowel inflammation and diarrhoea, possibly with traces of fresh blood. Incorporating fibre such as pumpkin or sweet potato into your pet's diet can help firm up their stool. Stick to their regular diet to minimise irritation. If diarrhoea persists, consult your veterinarian for appropriate medication.
Mild tiredness is a common side effect of chemotherapy, typically occurring 3-6 days after treatment. This fatigue should resolve within a few days, so there's no need to be overly concerned.
Although rare, anaphylactic reactions can occur with chemotherapy medications. To reduce the risk, veterinarians often administer an antihistamine, anti-emetic, and sometimes a steroid before chemotherapy.
6. Tissue Sloughing
Certain chemotherapy drugs, known as vesicants, can damage tissues and must be administered intravenously. Watch for irritation or inflammation near the administration site and promptly notify your vet if you notice any issues.
Supplements and Medications for Pets with Cancer
While it's natural to want to explore additional options to support your pet's health during cancer treatment, it's essential to proceed with caution. Avoid giving your pet garlic, grapes, grape seeds, or immunity-boosting supplements without consulting your veterinarian. Some supplements may interact with chemotherapy or be counterproductive for specific cancers.
Continue administering any prescribed medications for underlying conditions such as thyroid issues, heart problems, seizures, and heartworm prevention. Also, inform your veterinarian about regular medications or preventive measures like flea and tick control.
Supplements you can consider include fish oil from flaxseed, daily vitamins, milk thistle, and glucosamine. Always consult your veterinarian on the type and dosage of new supplements or medication before introducing them to your pet's regimen.
Remember that every pet is unique, and their response to chemotherapy may vary. The information provided here is based on common reactions to treatment. Veterinarians may adjust pre-medication, dosages, and take-home medication based on your pet's response as they progress through treatment. Most importantly, your unwavering love and support are essential to your beloved companion's healing and recovery journey.
If you're looking for additional support, you can explore a wide range of pet digestive supplements and buy effective pet cancer supplements online, ensuring your pet receives the best care possible during their battle against cancer.