Cytoxan Side Effects in Dogs
Humans are not the only living beings diagnosed with cancer. Dogs are also prone to a variety of this disease. Just as in humans, radiation and surgery are ways to treat cancer in dogs. In addition, a combination of chemotherapy (anticancer) drugs is also prescribed. Cytoxan is one of them.
Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) works to combat cancer by affecting the dog’s liver to activate metabolites that cause interference with the fast reproduction of cancer cells. It works by combatting the cancer and suppressing the immune system (immunosuppressant). It is administered with other anticancer drugs, such as Oncovin (vincristine) and Prednisone (cortisone). A fourth drug, Cytarabine, can also be administered based on the suggested treatment of the veterinarian and the type of cancer being treated. This combination of anticancer drugs has yielded positive results with increases in the number of remissions in dogs.
Any anticancer drug can cause side effects. Cytoxan has been shown to have the following effects:
Hair loss – not as much in animals when compared with humans; loss of whiskers can also occur.
Upset stomach/vomiting – reported as infrequent and not severe.
Low white blood cell counts – not of concern unless infections are occurring.
Blood in the urine – most common side effect, caused by bladder infections.
To help prevent bladder infections and bloody urine, the following guidelines have been suggested by Bone Cancer Dogs Inc.:
- Give medication in the morning as a single dose.
- Encourage your dog to drink plenty of water.
- A water pill (diuretic) may be prescribed by the veterinarian to be given with the Cytoxan medication. This causes your dog to drink more, increasing the amount of urine, which reduces the risk of bloody urine.
- Drinking more water will result in more potty breaks; be sure to have your dog urinate before bedtime.
If any side effects become severe or frequent, contact your veterinarian.
Cytoxan is given to your dog as an oral medication. Depending on the type of cancer and veterinarian’s advice, it can be given once a day or once a week. The best time to administer the drug is in the morning. It is recommended to always handle anticancer drugs with gloved hands.
Quality of life, health risks, length of treatment and cost are all important considerations when choosing a cancer treatment for your dog. Though anticancer drugs can cause side effects, the benefits have been shown to outweigh the risks. According to Bone Cancer Dogs Inc., the chances of a dog being hospitalized from side effects is less than 5 percent and the chance of death is less than 1 percent. It is best to consult with your veterinarian for the best course of anticancer treatment.
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