Basking Ridge Animal Hospital is proud to offer specialist oncology services for our patients. Sadly, dogs and cats get many of the same cancers as people. Just like in people, cancer is a treatable disease in pets. However, the approach is slightly different allowing for a higher quality of life in some pets. Here we will introduce you to some important points on pet cancer care.

Veterinary medical oncology tends to take a palliative approach to treatment. Patients are typically treated with lower doses of chemotherapy to allow them to feel better from their disease yet not usually feel sick from the chemotherapy. Chemotherapy side effects are noted in 10-17% of animal patients receiving chemotherapy. This is a relief to most owners as chemotherapy side effects tend to be the most common concern owners have about their pet during treatment.

The trade-off for lower side-effects is lower cure rates. Many of the cancers treated in pets are not cured but rather slowed down to allow us to extend and maintain a patients quality of life. Less cancer in the body can allow pets to eat better, have more energy and less pain. With each visit, we aim to address owner concerns so we can alleviate any cancer symptoms the pet may have. Most owners enjoy taking this palliative approach, as they too prefer a high quality of life for their pet.

Pet owner feedback matters. With each oncology visit, we assess patients to make sure they are not in pain and that their cancer is responding to treatment. Another important factor in patients assessment is the owner’s report from home. Feedback regarding appetite, activity and daily pet habits helps us in our evaluation.  During the course of cancer care, we aim to keep patient’s quality of life as high as possible.

If you are concerned about cancer in your pet, please let us know. Our oncologist M.J.Hamilton, DVM, DACVIM (O) will be happy to discuss your pet’s condition and outline the treatment options available.

J Small Anim Pract. 2012 Nov;53(11):627-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-5827.2012.01269.x. Epub 2012 Sep 8.Questionnaire-based assessment of owner concerns and doctor responsiveness: 107 canine chemotherapy patients. Hamilton MJ1, Sarcornrattana O, Illiopoulou M, Xie Y, Kitchell B.


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