Pregnant dog owners need to know that canine chemotherapy poses a risk. For them, for other family members and for their unborn babies.
This information should be readily available, so they can make an informed decision about whether to consider chemotherapy, if their dog is ever diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer is something everyone with a dog needs to think about. So they know what to do if their dog is ever diagnosed. If a dog lives to age 10, he or she has a 50 percent chance of developing this disease.
Chemo Transfer To Others
The risk of cancer rises with age. We had hoped our own dog would escape it. But shortly after he turned 16, we brought him to the vet. He had a growth on his lower eyelid. The vet thought it might be an infection. But he didn’t respond to antibiotics. So she told us he probably had cancer.
But, in order to make an informed decision about canine cancer treatment, people need to know all the facts.
One thing you may not be aware of is that these toxic drugs, which kill rapidly dividing cells, are excreted in a dog’s urine, feces and saliva, especially during the first 48-hours after treatment. (The cells of a developing fetus are rapidly dividing. So you don’t want to expose an unborn baby to chemotherapy drugs.)
Canine Chemotherapy and Human Pregnancy
This is a problem for veterinary staff, as well as pet owners. A study that appeared in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, published in 2009, pointed out that rigid precautions must be taken, to prevent human exposure to these dangerous compounds.
This paper recommended that pregnant woman and nursing mothers who work in veterinary practices do not handle these drugs or the waste from a treated animal.
Is It Safe To Be Around Chemotherapy Patients When Pregnant?
But shouldn’t the same consideration be extended to human customers? Especially since they’re actually living with the dog. They may have close contact with the dog. They may let a chemo-treated dog lick their face. They may let the dog sleep on their bed.
Second Hand Dog Chemotherapy
Pet owners concerned about the effects of these drugs on a developing fetus have the right to know about this study, and then decide if chemo is the course they want to take. It’s well known that chemo drugs travel.
It’s been documented that second-hand chemo has been found in hospitals, far removed from the oncology clinic. Chemo drugs have been found on door handles and even on computer keyboards in other parts of the facility.
Chemo Transfer To Others
There’s relatively little information available about second-hand canine chemotherapy. But dog owners should know that humans treated with chemo are advised to use separate bathrooms from the rest of the family. They’re also advised to flush twice, with the toilet seat down. That’s because chemo drugs are excreted in the urine.
Immediately after treatment, chemo drugs also found in the saliva. Human cancer patients are advised to use separate plates and to not share utensils, for about 72 hours after treatment.
Dog Chemotherapy Precautions
It is no secret that these poisonous chemotherapy compounds pose a hazard to others. Some veterinary practices may have posted information so people can try to “minimize” that risk.
However, everyone needs to know what risks are involved, especially when pregnant women and young children will around a chemo-treated animal.
Can Chemo Affect Others?
This should include clearly understandable statistics on the effectiveness of these treatments, for various types of canine cancer. Are these therapies really going to extend the life of their pet? Or, will they just result in a temporary shrinkage of tumors?
Actually, I tried to find information on the effectiveness of cancer drugs in dogs. There’s very little information to be found. All I could deduce was that canine chemotherapy may be most effective in dogs with lymphoma. So another thing to consider is if the drugs are going to appreciably extend your dog’s life, if at all.
Canine Chemotherapy in His Saliva
Humans having chemotherapy are told to take elaborate precautions, to reduce the risk of exposing other family members to the strong drugs. I’ve read on one cancer forum that someone undergoing a very strong regimen was advised not to touch anyone else for three days.
But we know dogs won’t be nearly as careful. They lick their owners. They lick furniture. They roll around on the floor. They jump on furniture. They won’t understand they need to stay away from their family.
Can Chemo Affect Others?
Anyway, the risk of second-hand chemo was one of our considerations when choosing not to have our 16-year-old dog subjected to chemo. But it wasn’t the only reason we decided against it. Even if there was no risk, chemo was not on the table. We had other factors to consider. These included:
- Lack of data as to its effectiveness. It’s very difficult to find good information on whether chemotherapy would work on our very elderly dog. Would it make him worse? Would it make him sicker? All he had was a growth on his eye. Otherwise, he was eating well and moving around well. It seemed we had a lot to lose, for uncertain gain.
- The huge expense. We would likely spend thousands of dollars on these conventional cancer treatments. But we had no guarantee they would work. Instead, we decided to devote our resources to natural remedies and holistic vet consultations, if necessary.
- The time factor. We’d need to travel to an out-of-town animal medical center for conventional cancer treatment. Still, we’re not convinced it would extend his life. Our dog is also 16, and has a heart murmur. Would he even survive these stressful trips to a veterinary oncologist?
- If I were pregnant, canine chemotherapy would never be a consideration. For me, my baby would come first, before my dog.
Natural Remedies vs Chemotherapy for Dogs
Anyway, I’m well aware that chemotherapy has its limitations in humans. It’s not considered to be curative in metastatic breast cancer, lung cancer and certain other cancers. Since I don’t have good information on how well it works for dogs, this is all I have to go on. The good news is that our dog seems to be doing well with natural cancer treatments. So we’re happy with our decision.
However, please remember that I’m not a doctor or an animal healthcare expert. I’m just a dog Mom interested in natural health. Everything you read here is my personal opinion only. It’s not medical advice. I’m just sharing information, and I’m not responsible for treatment decisions or outcomes.