Chemotherapy FAQ

Chemotherapy – how we make it safe

We monitor our patients very closely during chemotherapy to ensure safety and promote quality of life.
  • Your pet will have blood work (CBC) performed before each chemotherapy treatment. If the white blood cells are low, we will not give the planned chemotherapy drug. An alternative drug called Elspar (that doesn’t affect the white blood cells) may be recommended in certain cancers.  Depending on how low the counts are, we may also recommend antibiotics or hospitalization.
  • Your pet should have blood work (CBC) performed 7-10 days after each chemotherapy treatment (or otherwise indicated).
    • If the evaluation is performed at our hospital, Dr. Sarbu will evaluate your pet and we will call you with the results of the bloodwork and recommendations within 24 hours.
    • If you have blood work performed at your local veterinarian, it is very important that your pet is briefly evaluated by a doctor at the same time. Your veterinarian is responsible for communicating the bloodwork results with you in a timely fashion (within 24 hours), and give you advice if the values are low. Your veterinarian also needs fax us the results and evaluation notes. If antibiotics are indicated, either your veterinarian or our team can prescribe the antibiotics.
  • Seven days after most chemotherapy treatments is the average time when the white blood cells are at their lowest point and your pet is at risk for infection. Patients that do not act sick but have low white blood cells can be treated at home with antibiotics. Patients that are sick, especially febrile (103 or higher in a calm pet) should be evaluated and will likely require hospitalization.
  • Other types of evaluations (chemistry profile, urinalysis, etc) may be indicated.
  • During times of low white blood counts, you should avoid taking your pet to places where he/she would be exposed to new pets and potential infections (dog park, boarding, etc). No precaution should be taken against other household pets, unless they have an active infection at the same time.
  • There is not risk of transferring infections from a person to your pet – i.e. if you have a cold and your pet has low white blood cells, he/she will not catch your infection.