Vincristine for Dogs

Vincristine is a type of chemotherapy drug that’s used to treat dogs suffering from cancer. This drug falls under the category of drugs termed as vinca alkaloids and is obtained from a plant called the Vinca Rosea plant.

These drugs are helpful in curing dogs suffering from cancer because they effectively work on cancer cells that cannot be removed through surgical procedures. However, this drug does have certain side effects and it’s important to make note of the same, especially if the vet recommends the administration of Vincristine to cure your pet.

How Does Vincristine Work?

Although normal and abnormal cells undergo cell division, cells that are cancerous in nature divide at a more rapid pace when compared to normal cells. To prevent chemotherapy drugs from killing normal cells, nearly all chemotherapy medications focus on cell division. For cell division to take place certain substances called microtubules have to be present as they break the cells apart. Vincristine works to kill or destroy these microtubules in order to reduce cell division in the pet’s body.

Uses of Vincristine:

  • Used to treat hemangiosarcoma
  • Immune-related platelet disorders
  • Lymphomas 
  • Venereal tumors

Dosage and Administration of Vincristine

The dosage depends on the severity and the type of cancer present. The treatment protocol varies for each pet and it’s best to follow the vet’s instructions when administering any drugs to your pet. Vincristine has to be administered intravenously and the dog may have to be brought to the doctor for the same purpose. Since the medication destroys soft tissues present in the pet’s body, the drug has to only be administered intravenously once every 7 days.

Controversy Surrounding the Use of Vincristine

Although the drug works effectively to reduce cell division, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the use of the drug because on rare occasions, the drug is known to release blood clotting cells from the dog’s bone marrow. Due to this reason Vincristine should be administered exactly according to the administration protocols that are put forth by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Side Effects of Vincristine

As with most other chemotherapy drugs, there are a few side effects associated with the use of Vincristine. The drug can interact with the pet’s nervous system and can give rise to seizures and neurological disorders. Commonly seen symptoms include loss of hair and nausea. Some pets may also suffer from diarrhea. If the medication is not given intravenously, the pet will suffer from sores. These sores generally develop when the pet’s soft tissues die.


The medication shouldn’t be administered to dogs that are allergic to its active ingredients. It’s also known to cause certain drug interactions particularly when it’s administered along with drugs that contain L-Asparaginase. Besides this, pets that have previously suffered from bladder stones may suffer from high uric acid levels after they’re given Vincristine.

Most vets prescribe Vincristine along with other chemotherapy drugs to combat lymphoma and other forms of cancer. If the pet develops any of the side effects after he is administered the drug, you should seek prompt medical care.