Cancer does not discriminate between the species that it invades; dogs and cats are just as much at risk for developing cancers as people. Maggie, an eight year old Labrador retriever, was one of our patients to be diagnosed with a high grade Mast Cell tumor. Because of the aggressive nature of her tumor, she was seen by the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine surgical team for surgery to remove as much of her tumor tissue as possible. At that time, it was recommended that Maggie undergo a three month course of chemotherapy for the best chances at remission. Chemotherapy in people often makes them tired, nauseous, possibly lose hair or weight, as well as a whole host of other unpleasant side effects. Luckily for our pets, they do not often have these side effects. Most dogs and cats never lose large patches of hair and with the new anti-nausea medications vomiting is quite rare.
The type of chemotherapy that Maggie was to undergo required a half day stay at the hospital once a week for four weeks, and then every other week for four additional treatments. Maggie’s trips to us involved spending the morning getting her blood drawn, rechecking the previous incision sites and lymph nodes for any changes as well as getting lots of pets and love from doctors and staff. During her stays, she received an anti-nausea medication which helped Maggie not get sick from any of her treatments! With each visit, Maggie had an intravenous catheter placed into her front leg and received her chemotherapy right in our exam room with all of us gathered around on a large fluffy blanket. She always sat so nicely, typically cuddling in and resting her head on Katie’s leg. She knew that following the treatment there would be more treats and pets.
Maggie received all of her treatments on Fridays. When Maggie had progressed through her treatments and moved to every other week, she still wanted to come weekly for her visit. The owner stated that the days Maggie did not need to come, she sat ready and waiting to go! Maggie was able to finish her chemotherapy treatments the first part of June, 2018. She has had her six week follow-up at which time there was no evidence of disease! Maggie is currently in remission and hopefully will be for a very long time.