Doxorubicin for Dogs

Doxorubicin is a drug that is designed to help address cancer cases in dogs. This medicine is oftentimes used as part of a treatment plan to address lymphomas and certain types of sarcomas in both dogs and cats. It is not, in itself, a cancer treatment method. However, in combination of chemotherapy and other types of treatments, it can be helpful in reducing the spread of cancer and controlling cancerous parts of your pet's body as well. Read on for a brief overview of doxorubicin and how it is used to this effect.

Doxorubicin Overview

Doxorubicin is classified as an anthrocycline anticancer drug. Although it has antibiotic properties, the fact that it is cytotoxic (meaning that it destroys the host cells as well as the bacteria) means that it will not ever be prescribed as an antibiotic drug. It is available under the brand name formulation Adriamycin.

Adriamycin, and any other generic versions of doxorubicin that exist, are all manufactured with the treatment of human beings in mind. This means that these medicines have not been tested and approved for veterinary use. Nonetheless, veterinarians oftentimes prescribe them in cases of cancer and as an extra label drug. If your pet is suffering from cancer, consult with your vet about the possibility of treating his condition with doxorubicin.

Using Doxorubicin for Your Pet

Doxorubicin is a highly potent and dangerous drug. It must be handled properly and with care in order to avoid contamination and potential damage either to your pet or to you. For this reason, in most cases, pet owners will never actually handle the drug. The medicine is provided by intravenous injection and is typically given about once every three weeks.

The exact dosage, site of injection and frequency of administration will depend upon a number of factors, including:

  • your pet's cancer type
  • the severity of the condition
  • the other medicines being used in treatment
  • your dog's overall health

It's important to follow all of your vet's orders regarding post-injection care and observation of your pet, as the side effects and reactions from this drug can be severe.

Side Effects and Risks of Doxorubicin

Doxorubicin is a potent drug that is capable of greatly improving your pet's overall condition. However, it carries the risk of very serious side effects. It's crucial that your vet know of any other medications or conditions affecting your pet before you begin a treatment involving doxorubicin.

The side effects of this drug include:

  • Loss of hair
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cardiac damage

It's crucial that you and your vet work to closely monitor your pet and to observe his reaction to this medicine. Generally, most vets will recommend frequent and regular visits to check up on blood samples and a number of other tests while your dog is undergoing treatment for cancer with a drug like doxorubicin. Report any and all side effects to your vet as soon as you notice them.