Chemotherapy FAQ

What can you do at home

It would be very beneficial to purchase the following items from a human pharmacy, to have handy when needed (nothing fancy or expensive):

  • an electronic thermometer
  • a pill cutter
  • a box of disposable gloves
  • Calmoseptine ointment (purchase at any human pharmacy)
  • Pill Pockets (from your veterinarian or pet stores – this will help administer oral medications easy)
  • If your pet is exhibiting any signs of sickness, start by taking his/her temperature rectally. Normal temperature for dogs and cats is between 99 and 102.5 (higher than humans). A temperature of 103 or higher is considered fever and warrants evaluation, especially if your pet is showing other signs of sickness. Do not wait overnight! A temperature of 104 or higher is considered high fever and could cause severe sickness - you should have your pet evaluated immediately.

  • If your pet is lethargic
    • make sure your pet can be aroused, is able to stand and move around.
    • if unable to do these he/she should be reevaluated.
  • If your pet has nausea/upset stomach
    • if a pet begins to show any signs of upset stomach (drooling, ‘smacking’ lips) or loss of appetite, administer the antinausea medication prescribed by Dr. Sarbu or call us for advice to increase the dose (if you are already giving it).
    • do not force your pet to eat – it is better to skip a meal and let their stomach to get settled. Then feed small amounts of bland diet for 1-2 days. Gradually switch to the regular food by mixing it in.
    • monitor water intake – many patients continue to drink at least some water. If not drinking water, dehydration can become a problem. Subcutaneous fluids can also be administered short term (call us or your veterinarian for advice).
    • bland diet: boiled chicken or hamburger meat (or other meats if you pet has allergies) and rice. Each ingredient should be boiled separately. Discard the broth from the meat (it contains too much fat). Mix 3 parts rice to one part meat.
  • If not eating
    • start antinausea medication (if given) or call us/your regular veterinarian for a prescription.
    • start appetite stimulant (if given) or call us/your vet for a prescription.
    • monitor water intake – many patients continue to drink at least some water. If not drinking water, dehydration can become a problem. Subcutaneous fluids can also be administered short term (call us or your veterinarian for advice).
    • offer different yummy foods (canned food, bland diet) and try hand feeding.
    • do not force feed. It is better to give them a break of 6-9 hours before reoffering food to avoid triggering vomiting.
    • it is okay if a dog doesn’t eat for a few days, as long as he/she is not experiencing other more severe side effects (such as being very lethargic, collapsed or unable to stand).
    • it is okay for a cat not to eat for 1-2 days, but they are more problematic than dogs and should be re-evaluated sooner.
  • If your pet is vomiting
    • remove food and water for 6-8 hours.
    • give antinausea medication or call for a prescription (this can be given on an empty stomach).
    • if no further vomiting, reintroduce small amounts of water (or ice cubes) over the next 6-8 hours, then offer small amounts of bland diet.
    • if further vomiting on an empty stomach, injectable antinausea medication may be indicated – you should have your pet reevaluated through us or your veterinarian.
    • if profuse vomiting (several times in an hour, dry heaving frequently) – emergency evaluation is indicated.
    • if you pet vomits within 2 hours after administration of a pill, at least some of that pill is lost. Do not re-administer the medication without medical advice.
  • If your pet has diarrhea
    • do not feed for 6-8 hours but allow access to water.
    • reintroduce bland diet. Once the diarrhea resolves, reintroduce the normal diet gradually, by mixing it with a bland diet over a few days.
    • add non-flavored Metamucil to the food once a day to increase fiber content (1/4 teaspoon for cats and dogs <10kg, 1/2 teaspoon for dog 10-20kg, 1 teaspoon for larger dogs).
    • if diarrhea persists for more than 1 day or if it is severe, call us to instruct you about giving over-the-counter antidiarrhea medication (Imodium -loperamide)
    • if the diarrhea is profuse or becomes bloody, especially if your pet has other symptoms in addition (lethargy, vomiting, not eating), he/she should be reevaluated for potential hospitalization.
  • If your pet has skin irritation over the shaved area
    • Do not allow your pet to lick the area further – use a light bandage, a loose sock (cut the tip off) or an e-collar.
    • apply Calmoseptine ointment (best), Panalog ointment or hydrocortisone cream on the area once a day on the affected area. The Calmoseptine can be obtained from any human pharmacy,
  • If calling us or your regular veterinarian for a prescription, please have the phone number from a human pharmacy available. Many times we use human products that can be called in.

These instructions are intended to be just general guidelines. 

  • side effects are seldom seen in the first 1-2 days post treatment.
  • lethargy is seen usually first (day 2 and on).
  • vomiting, diarrhea can start as early as day 2, usually more likely on day 4-5.
  • low white blood cells and infections – average day 7.
  • these are very general numbers and patients can have individual variations.
  • if you see any side effects, it is better to call us for advice. Dr. Sarbu is in the hospital Tuesday through Friday between 7:30am and early evening. After hours, our emergency doctors can also give you advice (and are also able to reach Dr. Sarbu most times, if needed)
  • unable to stand, collapse, unresponsive, profuse vomiting (few times in one hour on an empty stomach), severe diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever (103 or higher), etc are concerning symptoms that warrant emergency evaluation.