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  Home > Oncology services > For Our Clients
 

For Our Clients

Services Provided
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center Oncology Department will meet with you and your pet in an initial consultation appointment to discuss the specifics about your pet’s cancer. We will discuss any additional diagnostics that are recommended and all treatment options available. The Oncology Department offers a full range of diagnostic and therapeutic options for pets with cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Staffed by a dedicated team of veterinarians, veterinary technicians and researchers, the oncology team gives loving care for pets with cancer. Our ability to collaborate within the human and veterinary medical arenas offers the best treatment options for our patients.

We understand that cancer is a difficult subject and there are many necessary questions surrounding the care of your pet. Our goal is to supply you with the necessary information and resources to help make decisions for your pet’s quality of life.

Using state of the art diagnostic and treatment modalities, we have the facilities to care for your pet in a compassionate, caring environment that encourages client involvement in the treatment process. Our comprehensive care coordinates surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, imaging (CT, MRI, digital radiographs), nutrition and other specialties within our hospital as needed to help with the complete care of your pet.

Team members in the clinical oncology department are trained in both internal medicine and oncology and collectively have over 75 years of experience in veterinary medicine. We strive to provide treatment options that will improve and extend the quality of life for our veterinary patients, while making the process manageable for their caretakers.


Appointment Information
Area Hotels
Area Restaurants
General Information for Chemotherapy Patients
Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects
Managing Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Pharmacy
A Day in the Life of a Chemotherapy Patient
Frequently Asked Questions About the Chemotherapy Day
Client Support Services
Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota


Appointment Information
New patient consultations are scheduled Monday through Thursday with both morning and early afternoon appointment times available. These consultations last approximately one hour. Additional testing, procedures or treatments may need to be scheduled on a day other than the initial consult. New patient consultations are initially seen by one of our senior veterinary students and/or a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a complete history and physical examination. After the student/technician presents the case to the clinician, all will return to the client to talk about treatment options. A discharge letter with the recommendations covered in the consultation will be sent to the client (either at their home mailing address or email) and to the referring clinic (by fax).

The fee for the exam is $182. Any additional diagnostics, medications or treatments are at an additional cost. All fees will be discussed prior to the procedure.

Please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment. For the safety of you and your pet, please keep your pet under control via leash or carrier while in the Veterinary Medical Center.

You’ll need to bring a copy of your pet’s medical record, radiographs and ultrasounds (if appropriate) to your appointment. You can also be of great help during the medical evaluation by providing important information about your pet’s medical history, current medications, diet, physical activity or any other recent changes you have noticed.

Payment Policies and Options
Fees charged for services support the Veterinary Medical Center. A very small part of our budget (less than nine percent) comes from the State of Minnesota. We make every effort to provide reasonable costs for services, but modern veterinary care can be very costly. Unfortunately, we do not have the funds to provide free or low-cost care.

Outpatient care
Outpatient care is the care that is entirely completed on the day of your animal's visit. Our payment policy requires payment in full at the time of completion of outpatient care. Payment options include cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit card, and CareCredit loans.

Inpatient care
If your animal is hospitalized, you will receive an estimate of the likely cost range (low and high) for at least the first 24 hours of care to help you plan.  This is only a preliminary estimate and may change if your animal needs more care or testing. Your doctor will update your estimate daily, if needed. If you do not receive this information from your doctor, please ask him/her to explain costs and feel free to call and ask for updates.
We require a deposit equal to 75 percent of the high end of the initial estimate. We cannot provide care to your animal without this payment. We will work with you to find ways to make payment. If more care or testing is required beyond the initial estimate, additional payment must be made before care is given.
If you have an outstanding bill, we cannot provide additional services until the past-due balance is paid in full.
Payment in full must be made at the time your animal is discharged. Payment options include cash, check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express credit card, and CareCredit or Wells Fargo loans.
Our accounting office can answer your billing questions. Their phone numbers are 612-625-2745 or 612-625-7765.
We will work with you to offer treatment options that take cost into consideration. We value you and your animals and want to continue our relationship with you.

Financial Assistance and Cancer Treatments for cancer can be very expensive.  Here are some suggestions for dealing with veterinary bills.
• Take preventative steps.  Set aside a fund just for your pet, a “pet account” to help pay for major veterinary expenses.
• Consider possible loan sources
• Request funding support from sources such as:
   www.aahahelpingpets.org
   http://www.imom.org
• Apply for Care Credit:  www.carecredit.com

 

Area Hotels
Because some of the procedures or treatments are not available the same day, an overnight stay might be necessary. The following hotels are close to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center and are pet friendly:

Hotels in the Area
 

Area Restaurants
Conducting diagnostic tests and providing other services can take time. Here is a partial list of area restaurants and coffee shops for your convenience.

The Hayloft
Pomeroy Alumni Center
Building next door to VMC, restored barn
Brewed coffee, espresso drinks, sodas, breakfast pastries and bagels, soup, sandwiches, salads

St Paul Student Center
2017 Buford Avenue
Five-minute walk from the VMC
Has a variety of salads, pizza, and Subway sandwiches. Hours are limited to daytime. Exit the hospital and walk northwest across the parking lot toward the parking ramp. You will see a set of stairs in the distance going up a hill. Follow the sidewalk up the hill. Continue past the library and across the street (Buford) to the student center.

Lori's Coffee House
1441 Cleveland Avenue North
Five-minute walk from the VMC
Standard coffee house fare with pastries, etc. Excellent homemade soups and sandwiches during lunchtime. Take a right out of the hospital parking lot. Take a right on Commonwealth Avenue. Go to Cleveland and take a right. The Coffee House is a couple of blocks ahead on the left-hand side.

Muffuletta
2260 Como Avenue
10-15-minute walk; 5-minute drive
Located in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood west of the VMC. Somewhat upscale, but prices are not unreasonable. Beer and wine served. Take a right out of hospital parking. Go the stop sign and take a right on Commonwealth. Follow this street all the way to Como Avenue. Take a right on Como. The restaurant is one block on your left.

Chianti Grill
Snelling and County Road B2
Five-minute drive
Italian restaurant with full service bar. Located on Snelling Avenue and County Road B2. Take a left out of the hospital parking lot onto Gortner Avenue. Follow to Larpenteur Avenue (first set of lights). Take a right on Larpenteur then a left onto Snelling. Chianti Grill is on the right-hand side just before County Road B2 stoplights.
 
Rosedale Center and vicinity
West Highway 36 and Fairview
Five-minute drive
There are many eating establishments in and around Rosedale. Take a left out of the hospital parking lot onto Gortner Avenue. Follow to Larpenteur Avenue. Take a right on Larpenteur Avenue. At the next stoplight take a left on Fairview Avenue. Follow Fairview to Rosedale Center, which will be on your right.


General Information
You have made the difficult decision to have your pet begin chemotherapy treatment with the Oncology Department and we would like to make things as easy for you as we can.

After you have decided when to begin your pet’s chemotherapy protocol, we would recommend that you pick a day of the week that works best with your schedule. We will schedule all following appointments to fall on the same day of the week. The date of your pet’s next chemotherapy treatment will be printed on your discharge instructions from the current visit, therefore you do not need to call to set this up. It is okay to alter the date by a day before or after your scheduled date, but please call ahead to allow us to adjust our schedule (612-625-7229).

You should drop off your pet between 7:00 and 8:00 am on the date of their scheduled chemotherapy. You will meet with one of the Oncology Technicians to discuss any concerns you may have about your pet’s condition. If you have no concerns, we will take care of your pet for the day and you are free to leave. If you do have concerns, we ask that you take a seat and wait to have a brief discussion with the Oncologist. A phone call in advance would be appreciated to let us know that you do have concerns to discuss with the Doctor so we can allow for more time. Please understand that the Doctor will visit with those who have called ahead first.

With each discharge, you will be given a drop off sheet for the next visit. It is very important to have this filled out each time you drop your pet off for chemotherapy treatment. This information will be kept in your pet’s record and help us track the progress of your pet at home.

If it fits in better with your schedule, you may drop off before 7:00 am, however you will not be able to meet with anyone from the Oncology Department. It is especially important to fill out the drop off sheet provided for you so the Oncology Technicians will know how to reach you and how things are going with your pet.

The chemotherapy treatment days are like any other day for your pet. You can feed breakfast and walk as you would any other morning. In addition, regular flea prevention and heartworm medication is strongly recommended as directed and does not interfere with the chemotherapy treatments. Bathing your pet as you have in the past is fine as well.

We do not recommend yearly vaccinations while on a chemotherapy protocol because your pet’s immune system will be compromised. Their bodies may not be able to mount a sufficient immune response to the vaccinations. If you will be boarding your pet and they need proof of vaccinations, we can give you a certificate of non-vaccination.

Once your pet is dropped off to the Oncology Department, the Technicians will do a brief physical exam and draw any necessary blood samples. The doctor will then perform a thorough exam on your pet. The Technician submits the request for chemotherapy drugs to the pharmacy and prepares your discharge notes. While here, your pet will have water available at all times and will be walked outside.

As soon as the blood work for all chemotherapy patients is back from the lab and reviewed by the Doctor, the chemotherapy drugs are approved and the pharmacy will start preparing them. The drugs are usually ready and delivered to the Oncology Department by 1:30 pm.
**NOTE: Chemotherapy drugs present a health risk to those who handle them, therefore the pharmacy technicians prepare the drugs all at once to reduce their exposure.

Following treatment of all pets, we bring the medications to go home and discharge instructions to the cashier. We then call you to let you know your pet is ready to go home. Your pet is typically ready to go home after 4:00 pm. When you come to pick up your pet, please stop by the cashier window first. The cashier is open until 8:00pm. They will page the Oncology Technicians and let us know that you are here and we will bring your pet up to you (if it is before our office closes at 5:00pm).

The Oncology Technicians are available to discharge your pet to you until 5:00 pm. Again, you will not meet with the Oncologist unless you have made an appointment for that day. The Ward Technicians will be available to discharge your pet after 5:00 pm, however since they were not responsible for your pet’s care throughout the day, they will not be able to answer questions regarding your pet’s specific care. If questions arise, please contact the Oncology Department at 612-625-7229 the following business day. If problems arise after business hours, please call 612-625-9711 to speak with the emergency staff.

For at-home care, it is important to take some simple precautions. While there is limited data available, we do know that chemotherapy agents can be present in urine, feces, vomitus and saliva, in small quantities, of patients that have received chemotherapy. The clearing times for these drugs can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 5 days. It is always recommended to limit direct contact with bodily fluids/excretions (including urine, feces, vomitus and saliva) in the days directly following chemotherapy treatments. Always wear gloves when cleaning up urine, feces or vomitus.


Managing Chemotherapy Side Effects

Chemotherapy Side Effect Information
All anticancer drugs have the potential to produce side effects. Because the doses used in animals are less than the doses used in people, the side effects that can occur in pets are usually not as severe as those seen in humans. It is important to note however that any chemotherapy agent has the ability to produce serious side effects and can even cause death. Below is information you will need to know about each chemotherapy drug and how to deal with these side effects, should they occur.

Vincristine/Vinblastine:  Both of these are a clear liquid chemotherapy drug that is given intravenously
•    If the drug is leaked outside the vein there can be skin damage at the injection site. Signs would include swelling, redness, licking and later an open sore. Call immediately if you see any of these signs.
•    Vomiting and diarrhea occur infrequently with Vincristine usage
•    Constipation and stomach cramps
•    Loss of appetite – most commonly occur in cats. If this persists for more than 2 consecutive days, please contact the Oncology Department.

Asparaginase (L-spar):  This is a clear liquid that is given as an intramuscular injection. There are very few side effects associated with this drug.
•    Vomiting – very rare
•    Allergic reaction – very rare, usually occurs within 30 minutes of administration. Signs would include redness, itching and shaking.

Cytoxan:  These are tablets given are sent home to be given over 2-4 days (as directed) throughout different protocols. Latex gloves should be worn when handling this medication. Cytoxan is chiefly metabolized by the kidneys and is excreted in the urine. Please wear gloves while cleaning up any accidents that your pet may have.
•    Vomiting and diarrhea
•    Lethargy or low energy
•    Low white blood cell count – this would occur within 5-7 days after the last dose given. It becomes a problem if the white blood cell count becomes too low and your pet’s immune system is suppressed. The symptoms of this may include lethargy, vomiting and/or diarrhea or anorexia. You should monitor your pets’ resting rectal temperature if you see any of the above symptoms. If the temperature is 103.0 or greater, we recommend your pet be seen by a veterinarian for further evaluation.
•    Bloody urine – Cytoxan can cause a chemical irritation to the bladder called hemorrhagic cystitis. Allowing your pet outside more frequently and making sure they are drinking adequate amounts of water during the administration of this drug will prevent this.

Adriamycin:  This is a thick, red liquid that is given intravenously slowly over 30-40 minutes with fluids. Some pets have no problem with this drug, while others may have nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea. This usually happens 2-5 days after administration. Side effect medications are dispensed in effort to help with these side effects.
•    Skin damage at the injection site. This may occur if any of the drug leaks outside of the vein. Signs will include swelling, redness, licking and/or an open sore. Call immediately if you see any of these signs.
•    Cardiotoxicity – Adriamycin has a cumulative effect on the heart. Cats do not often have the cardiotoxicity issues, but we do watch for this in dogs. The protocols used do not exceed the maximum dose, so this is infrequently seen. Your pet’s heart will be monitored throughout the protocol and if there is any suspicion of a problem, an echocardiogram will be recommended.
•    Low white blood cell count – this usually occurs within 7-10 days following administration of the medication. This should not cause a problem unless the white blood count drops too low, inhibiting your pet to properly fight infections. If this happens the symptoms would include fever (resting rectal temperature greater than 103.0), lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia (loss of appetite).
•    Lethargy – sleeping more than normal, low tolerance to activities such as walking and playing

Prednisone:  This is a steroid tablet that is helpful in managing the secondary complications from the chemotherapy and the cancer itself. This medication can cause an increase in appetite and give an overall feeling of well being to the patient. There are a few side effects associated with steroids, but the good effects outweigh the bad.
•    Increased thirst – your pet will drink more water than usual
•    Increased urination – your dog will need to go outside more frequently and some may even dribble or have leakage while asleep. If this happens, we may decrease the dose of Prednisone
•    Increased appetite – your pet will more feel more hungry. Please be very conscious not to overfeed, as they will easily gain weight.
•    Behavior change – rare, but may manifest in panting, pacing, restlessness and anxiety

CCNU (Lomustine):  This is an oral chemotherapy drug administered once every 3-4 weeks in the hospital. There is a 65% chance of low white blood cell counts from this chemotherapy, so patients are placed on an antibiotic for 14 days following administration.
•    Rarely vomiting and diarrhea
•    Rarely irreversible platelet problems
•    6% chance of liver toxicity. We will be monitoring their liver values by a simple blood test done before each treatment in the hospital

Carboplatin:  This is a clear liquid administered intravenously in the hospital.
•    If the drug is leaked outside the vein, there can be skin damage at the injection site. Signs would include swelling, redness, licking and later an open sore. Call immediately if you see any of these signs.
•    Rarely vomiting and diarrhea
•    Lethargy or low energy


How to Manage Side Effects
Vomiting
•    Withhold food for 12 hours and start medication (Metoclopramide as directed)
•    Offer your pet bland, easily digestible foods such as boiled chicken and rice
•    Gradually reintroduce the normal diet
•    If your pet does not vomit after drinking water, offer small amounts of bland foods such as boiled chicken and rice or baby food
•    Call if the vomiting is severe, continues after withholding food and water, accompanied by a fever and/or persists longer than 24 hours

Diarrhea
•    Withhold food for 12 hours and start medication (Sulfasalazine, Tylosin or Metronidazole as directed)
•    Offer your pet bland, easily digestible foods such as boiled chicken and rice
•    Gradually reintroduce the normal diet
•    Call if diarrhea persists for greater than 48 hours

Low White Blood Cell Count
•    Infections caused from a low white blood cell count are a potentially serious side effect of chemotherapy. Infections are likely to occur 5-10 days after a drug is given. Extremely low white blood counts can lead to sepsis and even death.
•    If your pet is vomiting, has diarrhea, is lethargic or has a decreased appetite accompanied by a resting rectal temperature of 103.0 or greater, we strongly recommend your pet be seen by a veterinarian. Please call the Oncology Department at 612-625-7229 or outside of business hours, call the Emergency Service at 612-625-9711.

 
Managing Radiation Therapy Side Effects
You have made the difficult decision to have your pet begin radiation therapy treatment with the Oncology Department and we would like to make things as easy for you as we can.

Our service is open Monday-Friday from 7:00 am – 4:00pm. Radiation therapy treatments are given Monday-Friday.

You should drop off your pet between 7:00 and 8:00am on the radiation therapy treatment day. Your pet will be greeted by a member of the ward nurses who will take you pet back to the Oncology wards. You will have a drop off sheet to have completed for each drop off to leave with your pet. If you do have concerns, we ask that you wait with your pet and to have a brief discussion with the Oncologist. A phone call in advance would be appreciated to let us know that you do have concerns to discuss with the Doctor so we can allow for more time. Please understand that the Doctor will visit with those who have called ahead first. If it fits in better with your schedule, you may drop off before 7:00am.

At the start of treatment you will receive drop off sheets for each therapy day. It is very important to have this filled out each time you drop your pet off for treatment treatment. This information will be kept in your pet’s record and help us track the progress of your pet at home.

Because your pet will undergo anesthesia for their radiation therapy treatment, it is important that they do not eat breakfast that morning. Please fast your pet – no food after midnight. Water is ok. We will feed your pet when they are fully recovered from anesthesia. The diet that we feed when they are recovered is a bland diet that is easy on their stomach. If your pet has dietary restrictions, please bring that food or alert the Technicians so we are feeding the correct diet. The Veterinary Medical Center feeds Hill’s pet foods, and has those on hand. You can walk your pet as you would any other morning. In addition, regular flea prevention and heartworm medication is strongly recommended as directed and does not interfere with radiation therapy treatments. Please consult your technicians if you have questions about bathing your pet.

We do not recommend yearly vaccinations while on a chemotherapy or radiation therapy protocol because your pet’s immune system will be compromised. Their bodies may not be able to mount a sufficient immune response to the vaccinations. If you will be boarding your pet and they need proof of vaccinations, we can give you a certificate of non-vaccination.

Once your pet is dropped off, the Technicians will do a brief physical exam and draw any necessary blood samples. The doctor will do a very thorough exam on your pet if needed, depending on the protocol. Treatments are then done throughout the day by the radiation therapy team. While here, your pet will have water available at all times and will be walked outside. We will then call you when treatments are finished and you pet is ready to go home.

Your pet is typically ready to go home after 4:00 pm. When you come to pick up your pet, please stop by the cashier window first. The cashier is open until 8:00pm. They will page the Oncology/Radiation Therapy Technicians and let us know that you are here and we will bring your pet up to you if available.

The Oncology Technicians are available to discharge your pet to you until 4:00 pm. Again, you will not meet with the Oncologist unless you have made an appointment for that day. The ward Technicians will be available to discharge your pet after 4:00 pm, however since they were not responsible for your pet’s care throughout the day, they will not be able to answer questions regarding your pet’s specific care. If questions do arise, please contact the Oncology Department at 612-625-8968 the following business day. If problems arise after business hours, please call 612-625-9711 to speak with the emergency staff.

If you have other questions or concerns, please feel free to call the Oncology Department at 612-625-7229 or the Radiation Therapy office at 612-625-8968.
 
 
Pharmacy
Staff
Scott R. Wood, PharmD; Director

Contact
Small Animal Pharmacy (612) 625-6233
Small Animal Refill Line (612) 624-3488
Hours
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
 
Pick-up Hours*
Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Useful Information
Federal law prohibits our pharmacy from selling medications to private practices, filling prescriptions for non-VMC patients or filling prescriptions written by non-VMC veterinarians. Sales of pharmaceuticals for true emergencies (e.g., antidotes) are acceptable.
 
* Please allow extra time for pick-up during after-hours pick-up (Monday thru Friday 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.)


A DAY IN THE LIFE
Your dog’s chemotherapy treatment day
• Early morning evaluation: blood sample and examination
• Mid-morning wait: play and nap time
• Treatment in the afternoon

Our primary concern is quality of life. In order give chemotherapy safely with as few side effects as possible, we tailor the treatment for each individual patient. Adjustments in treatment plans are common. To provide the best care, patients must be evaluated and treatment potentially adjusted on each treatment day. To do this, we need patients here early in the morning for evaluation and again later in the day for treatment. Most people drop their dogs off for the day for both convenience and better quality of life for their friend (see playtime discussion below). To tailor the treatment to the patient, some of the factors that we must consider include the current blood cell counts, examination findings on the treatment day, and the effects of previous treatments. For most patients, the first step after check-in with the oncology technician is collection of a blood sample for a complete blood count, followed shortly by an examination by the veterinarian.

Early morning evaluation:
Complete blood count (CBC):
Many chemotherapy drugs cause a temporary decrease in the number of blood cells, particularly white blood cells and platelets. White blood cells are immune cells in the blood that help to fight infections. The degree, timing and duration of the decrease in blood cells vary between patients and different drugs. For this reason, for most chemotherapy protocols, we need to check a CBC immediately prior to treatment. If cell counts are too low, treatment is postponed, usually by one week. In order to be able to evaluate and treat the patient in the same day, we need to have patients here before 8 am so the blood sample can be collected and submitted to the laboratory. The timing is very important. Special facilities and staff are needed to prepare chemotherapy drugs, so they are all drawn up at the same time in a batch. CBC results are needed in order to make treatment decisions, so the drugs can’t be prepared until all of the CBC results are evaluated. Therefore, if anyone shows up late, it can delay treatment for all patients. Although unfortunate, for this reason, we sometimes have to reschedule chemotherapies when patients arrive late on treatment days.

Examination findings on the treatment day:
While the blood samples are evaluated in the laboratory, the veterinarian examines all of the chemotherapy patients and makes treatment decisions based on the response to therapy and the patient’s current condition. Any new problems are addressed at this time. We rely on you to provide information about any of your concerns on a “drop off sheet” and at check-in with the oncology technician. If a concern is serious, we ask that you wait to speak with the veterinarian or at least leave phone numbers where you can be reached.

Effects of previous treatments:
We also ask that you provide information on the drop off sheet explaining any problems your dog may have had after the last treatment. We use this information to adjust treatment the next time so side effects are eliminated or minimized. Although most patients do not have any significant side effects from chemotherapy, we are always concerned about quality of life and we have many ways to minimize side effects in those patients that develop them. Even mild side effects are worth minimizing. We need information from you in order to help your pet. Some treatment protocols require blood cell counts to be done between treatments scheduled here at the University. The results of these tests are very important to allow us to tailor the treatment for your pet. If you choose to have these blood tests done by your local veterinarian, please have the results faxed to us as well. On each treatment day, we will give you written instructions explaining when blood tests are needed between treatments.

Mid-morning wait: playtime
After the morning evaluation, you can take your dog with you and return when we are ready for treatment. However, for most patients, with your consent, the next several hours are playtime for the dogs in the oncology office. We have dog-friendly furniture, beds, toys, treats (for those without dietary restrictions), and most importantly, many opportunities to interact with other dogs and people. After dogs learn what happens the first few times, most of our patients love coming for their chemotherapy treatment days. In more than a decade of providing care in this way, we have found a number of benefits to the group playtime:
• The dog’s quality of life is better. For dogs that usually stay at home alone during the day, the treatment day here is more exciting and they get more exercise than usual. Even dogs that are usually with their family all day enjoy staying with us because they develop a new set of human and animal friends.
• We get to know the patients better allowing us to provide better care. The better we know them, the better we can identify subtle abnormalities. In those rare cases where there is an adverse drug reaction, we are able to identify problems early. 
• Dogs that hang out with us during the day become comfortable with us and therefore are better behaved during chemotherapy administration. This makes it more comfortable for them and decreases the risk of complications.
• Our quality of life is better. Honestly, we love having them with us all day. Just like you, they make us laugh and we fall in love with them.

Many owners tell us that their dogs do not like to play with other dogs. However, most people do not have many opportunities for their dogs to have supervised interactions with other dogs when they are not present. Dogs are often quite protective of their family members and they behave much differently when the family is not present. Our experience over the last decade is that most dogs that reportedly “do not play well with others”, actually seem to love interacting and playing with the other oncology patients on treatment days, once the family has dropped them off. Many oncology clients have thanked us for improving the social skills of their dog during their treatment time (we just create the opportunity; the other dogs do the socialization). Of course, you get to choose whether you leave them with us for the day or bring them at 8 am for the exam and then back in the afternoon. You choose whether they play with others or stay in individual runs in our wards. You are the best judge of what is best for your pet. For most dogs, we prefer that they stay with us during the day. Please see the consent form for group playtime attached. If your dog really does not play well with others, then he/she will stay in the wards during the day like all other hospital patients.

Treatment in the afternoon:
When the chemotherapy drugs are delivered to us by the pharmacy, we start treating our patients. Oral chemotherapy drugs are given in a tasty treat. Some drugs are sent home with instructions for use. For intravenous chemotherapy treatments, a large pad is placed on the floor, music is played, and dogs are held by one oncology technician while the other places an intravenous catheter (tiny tube into a vein). Depending on the type of chemotherapy, the drug is given through the catheter over one to twenty minutes. The catheter is removed and the dog receives more praise, petting and treats. Because chemotherapy does not hurt any more than a tiny needle, it is rare for dogs to need any sedatives for treatment. After treatment, you will be called and your dog will get more play time until you arrive. If you need to come after 5 pm, they will be transferred to individual runs in the wards.

 
Frequently Asked Questions about the Chemotherapy Day
I have heard that chemotherapy can suppress the immune system. Will chemotherapy increase the risk that my dog will catch a disease from another dog?
In short, no. Dogs on chemotherapy do not appear to have any significant increase in risk of contracting an infection from exposure to other animals. It is true that chemotherapy commonly causes a temporary decrease in the white blood cell count. Since white blood cells help to fight infection, dogs are at increased risk of infection during the time that the cell counts are low. However, the infections they develop are almost always due to overgrowth of the bacteria that live in their own intestines, not from something contracted from another animal. Thankfully, the white blood cell counts usually return to normal in a few days. We do not recommend changing your dog’s lifestyle while on chemotherapy (exception: hunting dogs that acquire many scratches while they work may need to postpone work until the white cell count is back up).

Although chemotherapy does not significantly increase the risk of contracting a contagious disease, there is always some risk when individuals interact (e.g. childcare, eldercare, doggy daycare, dog park).  There are risks of virus, bacteria (e.g. kennel cough), or parasite transmission (e.g. fleas). Any dog with fleas will be separated from other animals and treated at your expense. We recommend the use of flea and tick preventatives such as Frontline, Sentinel, or Program.

Can my dog get hurt by playing with other dogs?
In short, yes. We always evaluate the behavior of new dogs when we introduce them to the group.  Dogs that appear to pose a threat to others or that appear to be bothered by others will be cared for in an individual run/cage in the hospital wards, similar to all other patients in the hospital. Despite the behavior evaluation and supervision, dogs may bite, scratch or jump on other dogs without any warning.  There is always some risk of injury. In over a decade of group playtime in the oncology service area with hundreds of dogs, we have had only a few bites, none of which required more than routine wound care (shave and clean). Although unlikely, whenever dogs interact there is always some potential for a life-threatening injury. Just like doggy daycare, you would be responsible for the cost of care if your dog is injured. You decide if the fun is worth the risk and we will respect your choice

Could my dog escape from the hospital?
We have both physical barriers (at least three gates/doors between the oncology service area and outside) as well as policies in place to decrease the risk of loss of a pet from our hospital. All dogs are on a leash when exercised outside. Keeping your dog in a kennel in the wards instead of in our office would provide one more barrier to prevent escape.

Is there an additional cost for playtime versus an individual cage/run in hospital wards?
No, the cost for care is the same.
 

Client Support Services
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) recognizes the unique and enduring bonds that form between people and their animals - animals who are family members, confidantes, guardians, and best friends. When these bonds are tested by illness, behavior problems, injury, or death, it can feel overwhelming.

Client Support Services
 

Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota
The Animal Cancer Care and Research (ACCR) program brings together researchers from different disciplines across human and veterinary medicine, who strive to learn more about the area of cancer where humans and animals interface. Their discoveries lead to better ways to treat and prevent cancers in both humans and animals.

The Clinical Investigation Center (CIC) facilitates veterinary clinical trials and translational research studies which may lead to new drugs, devices, procedures and treatments for the benefit of animals and humans alike. We do this by providing expertise, facilities, technical staff and overall study coordination.


Clinical Trials at the University of Minnesota

 

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