Front Page VSPN Message Boards Chat Library Continual Education Search MyVSPN Help Frequently Asked Questions Send us Feedback! Industry VetQuest Search & Referral and Classifieds The Pet Care Forum Y2Spay
 
Menu bar   Go to the VIN.com Portal
Back Print Save Bookmark in my Browser Top of Page. Front Page : Library : Adriamycin® Client info
Adriamycin® (doxorubicin) Client information Sheet

Ken Crump, AHT, Animal Cancer Center
Colorado State University

Chemotherapy is a word that creates an instant emotional response in everyone. Chances are that you, or someone you know, has experienced chemotherapy for the treatment of cancer. The reality of chemotherapy for animals is generally different from that for human cancer patients. Most people are pleasantly surprised at how well their pets feel while undergoing chemotherapy.

Adriamycin® (doxorubicin) is a broadspectrum chemotherapy drug used to fight many forms of cancer and has been used for decades. Adriamycin® is an orange-red liquid, which is diluted and painlessly administered directly into a vein. The slow intravenous administration of Adriamycin® usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. The patient lies quietly on a padded table during administration and rarely needs any form of sedation.

Practically all anticancer drugs have side effects. However, their potential effect against the cancer generally outweighs the possible side effects. Although serious adverse effects can occur with any chemotherapy, there is less than a 5% chance that your pet will be hospitalized with side effects and less than a 1% chance of fatality. Below are listed the potential side effects of Adriamycin®. Our goal is to make you as aware of the possible side effects as possible. Please consult your pet's doctor with any questions you may have about chemotherapy.

Hair Loss (Alopecia)
When a person loses hair as a result of chemotherapy, it can be devastating. Pets rarely lose their hair, and if they do, they are not bothered by it as much as people are. In most pet animals, hair does not grow continually throughout their lives like it does in people. Therefore, hair loss in pets is rare. Exceptions are certain breeds of dogs, such as poodles, Old English Sheepdogs and other breeds whose hair grows continually. In general, if your pet needs to visit a groomer periodically to be clipped, then your pet may experience some degree of hair loss as a result of chemotherapy. Cats may, however, lose all or most of their whiskers. Please ask your pet's doctor about the possibility of hair loss in your pet.

Reduction in the Number of White Blood Cells (Neutropenia)
There are various types of cells in the blood. The decrease in the number of infection fighting white blood cells is known as neutropenia. Many chemotherapeutic agents impair the bone marrow's ability to produce cells. As a result, neutropenia may occur seven to ten days after chemotherapy. Neutropenia, alone, is not a danger to your pet. However, your pet's ability to fight off infection is impaired by neutropenia. Your pet is given a complete physical, and a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) is performed prior to each Adriamycin® administration. Should your pet have a significant reduction in the number of white blood cells, your veterinarian may wish to perform periodic blood tests, and/or prescribe antibiotics to protect your pet from infection.

Stomach or Intestinal (Gastrointestinal) Discomfort
Many patients experience some form of stomach or intestinal discomfort two to seven days after a chemotherapy treatment. Your veterinarian will prescribe medication to try to prevent or treat the discomfort. Below are listed some steps you can take at home.

· Upset stomach (Nausea)

1. If your pet begins to show any signs of upset stomach (drooling, 'smacking' lips) or loss of appetite, administer the medicine your doctor prescribed for nausea.
2. Offer ice cubes every few hours.
3. After 12 hours, feed your pet small, frequent meals instead of one large meal.
4. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns, or if the condition persists for more than 24 hours.

· Vomiting

1. Do not give your pet any food or water for 12 hours.
2. After 12 hours, offer your pet ice cubes, then water, then small bland meals.
3. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns, or if the condition persists for more than 24 hours

· Loss of Appetite

1. If your pet begins to show any signs of upset stomach or loss of appetite, administer the medicine your doctor prescribed for nausea.
2. Offer your pet four small meals a day.
3. Add warm broth, animal fats, and favorite foods to increase flavor and appeal.

· Diarrhea

1. If your pet begins to show signs of diarrhea, administer the medicine your doctor prescribed for diarrhea.
2. Keep water available at all times.
3. If your pet is also not eating, offer chicken or beef broth.
4. Give Pepto Bismol® (dogs only), 1 tablespoon per 10 pounds of body weight every 4 to 6 hours.
5. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns, or if the condition persists for more than 24 hours.

Tissue Damage
If Adriamycin®, is accidentally given outside the vein, severe tissue reactions can result. Therefore, Adriamycin is handled with the utmost care, and is only administered by highly trained professionals. If irritation of the injection site develops in the form of pain or redness, apply ice packs for 15 minutes every three hours. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns, and certainly if the condition persists for more than 24 hours.

Allergic Reactions
Allergic reaction to chemotherapeutic agents is rare, and not a problem you will have to treat at home. Should your pet have an allergic reaction to Adriamycin®, it would develop upon administration, and your veterinarian and the hospital staff are trained to treat patients for allergic reaction.

Heart Damage
Adriamycin®, in some rare cases, can irreversibly damage the heart muscle. The dose of Adriamycin® prescribed for your pet is below the dose that usually causes heart disease. Less than 10% of our patients develop heart disease as a result of Adriamycin® chemotherapy. Your veterinarian will discontinue the use of Adriamycin® if heart disease is detected at any time.

Each Visit
It is important to make an appointment for each chemotherapy administration. At each visit, a doctor or an oncology nurse will admit your pet. We work as a team to minimize the time you and your pet will spend at the hospital. This team approach maximizes quality care. This may mean you might not see the same veterinarian or nurse each time, but the intent is to provide the most comprehensive and compassionate care possible.
You will be asked how your pet has been doing since the last visit. This is a good time to express concerns you have about your pet's condition and let us know if you need refills of any medications. Your pet will receive a complete physical examination by a doctor, and blood will be drawn for a complete blood count.
Once the blood values have been reviewed, and are determined to be within normal limits, your pet will receive an Adriamycin® treatment. This entire process takes two to three hours. You may wait in the lobby during this time, or you may leave your pet in our care and return later in the day. Stop by the Business Office at the completion of each visit to keep your account current.


Address (URL): http://www.vspn.org/Library/Misc/VSPN_M02526.htm

Back Print Save Bookmark in my Browser Top of Page. Front Page : Library : Adriamycin® Client info


800.700.4636  |  help@vspn.org  |  530.756.4881  |  Fax: 530.756.6035
777 West Covell Blvd, Davis, CA 95616

Copyright , Veterinary Information Network, Inc.