Your pet is taking chemotherapy to help fight the cancer in his/her body. The drugs that we are using operate by different mechanisms, but most of them have a special feature that allows them to attach rapidly dividing cells in the body. By definition, cancer cells are rapidly dividing which is why the tumors often times grow so rapidly. Unfortunately, there are many cells in the body that are normally dividing at a fairly rapid rate. These cells include:
- The lining of the stomach and intestines
- Reproductive organs
- Hair follicles
- Bone Marrow Cells (which create the red and white cells in the blood)
These cells are subject to being killed off by the anti-cancer drugs as “innocent bystanders” in our war against the cancer which is one of the main reasons why we see side effects related to taking chemotherapeutic agents. If the intestinal cells are affected, your pet may lose their appetite, act nauseous, vomit and/or have diarrhea. If the hair follicles are affected, the hair may fall out (not that common in pets). If the bone marrow is affected, the pet may become anemic (lack of red cells) or become immunocompromised (have greater likelihood of developing life threatening infections) due to lack of the white cells which protect the body from infection.
During the course of our treatment, we want you to assist us in monitoring your pet’s response to therapy. We want you to record (on the log provided) the following information:
- The temperature taken daily
- The appetite
- Any vomiting
- Stool Consistency and color
- General attitude and activity level
- Weight Gain or loss
You will need a rectal thermometer to monitor the temperature. We recommend the electronic types available in most drug stores for about $7.00. In order to take the temperature, place a small amount of vaseline on the tip of the thermometer and insert it in the rectum approximately 1 to 1.5 inches. Wait until the thermometer maintains a steady reading or beeps.
We would like you to monitor your pet’s appetite using a scale from 1 to 4 where 1 means the pet ate 1/4th of the normal amount of food, 2, equals ½, 3 equals 3/4ths, and 4 equals 100%. When observing the stool, be certain to note any blood or if the stool is turning dark and tarry which may mean that there is some intestinal bleeding.
In the table below, we have listed the common symptoms your pet may exhibit and what you should do about it. Remember, if you are ever uncertain as to what to do, be sure to contact us at (909) 980-3575!