Lymphoma in Dogs: Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Lymphoma in dogs is primarily treated through chemotherapy drugs. Each dog responds differently to chemotherapy, and some may not experience any side effects at all. However, the most common problems from chemotherapy drugs are vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.

If your dog has a cancer that requires chemotherapy, here are some important facts for you to consider:

  • Hair loss or slow hair growth may also occur in certain instances of chemotherapy treatment.
  • Myelosuppression is a condition caused by chemotherapy. It can lead to a drop in a dog's white blood cell count.
  • Less than 10 percent of dogs have to be hospitalized due to side effects of chemotherapy.
  • The improvement in a dog's condition normally outweighs any related side effects.
  • In some cases, treating a dog with chemotherapy may benefit his overall health and extend his life.
  • Serious side effects are only seen in 5 to 10 percent of the dogs treated with chemo.

Sometimes multi-drug protocols are used to treat lymphoma in dogs. Review the following list of commonly used chemotherapy drugs and their side effects to see what you might be up against.

  • Cyclophosphamide: gastrointestinal problems, myelosuppression and hemmorhagic cystitis
  • Vincristine (Oncovin): hair/wisker loss and gastrointestinal toxicity.
  • Adriamycin: recurring doses can damage the heart muscle.
  • Hydroxydaunorubicin: myelosuppression and pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Mitoxanthrone: loss of appetite, lethargy and possible infection.
  • Retinoids: Etretinate and Isotretinoin: dry eye
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol): vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss and myelosuppression.
  • Cytoxan can irritate your dog's bladder wall. If this occurs, blood will appear in his urine.