In this study from the Netherlands, owners with pets undergoing chemotherapy or that had recently been treated for cancer were surveyed. Types of cancer in dogs included malignant lymphoma, splenic hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and transmissible venereal tumors. The cats were diagnosed with malignant lymphoma.
Sixty-nine surveys (75.8%) were returned by the pet owners. This high response rate was most likely an indication of the high level of interest and motivation of these pet owners. Over one third believed that their pets' well-being had improved. This included five owners whose pets had tumors other than lymphoma. The most common side effects in dogs were vomiting and diarrhea. The cats more commonly had hair loss, weight loss, and weakness. Owners occasionally considered the side effects severe. Sixty-two of the 69 owners thought that, in general, anticancer treatment for dogs and cats was worthwhile and the same number felt that treatment had been worthwhile in their own pets. Sixty-five of the owners would request chemotherapy again.
The notion that dogs and cats suffer when they receive chemotherapy is not valid. Palliation is often the goal, and the number and severity of side effects are usually less than those seen in humans. The positive response from pet owners in this survey suggests that this type of therapy is relevant and rewarding.
Study of dog and cat owners' perceptions of medical treatment for cancer. Brønden LB, Rutteman GR, Flagstad A, Teske E. VET REC 152:77-80, 2003.