Chemotherapy, while it creates many challenges for dogs, is often less grueling than it is for humans, writes John Rennie in the online magazine Txchnologist.
When a beloved pet is diagnosed with cancer, many owners aren’t sure whether they should pursue aggressive treatments. John Rennie, the former editor of Scientific American, faced this decision when his dog was diagnosed with brain and lung tumors. He chose to give his dog chemotherapy treatment, an issue he wrote about recently in the online magazine Txchnologist. One of the surprises he encountered: chemotherapy, while it creates many challenges for dogs, is often less grueling than it is for humans.
The reason, however, is that they do not receive comparable doses of the toxic drugs. Justifying months of chemical hell is easier with people who might gain decades of added life. The tradeoff, of course, is that the dogs’ chemo is less potent.
During his previous eight years with us, our canine Rasputin had survived eating a box of chocolates, New York City garbage, some kind of wire clip that snagged in his intestines and a mouthful of rat poison. So it was no surprise that Newman took chemotherapy in stride. He continued to lead me on daily walks that went for miles, and his vigor and sociable nature held up well, pushing far past the early benchmarks for his mortality. Periodic checkups confirmed that the tumors in his lungs were stable or shrinking. It was easy to forget that he was sick at all.
But Newman was also undeniably (if ever so incrementally) slowing down, whether because of the brain tumor, the drugs or his own advancing age. He was sleeping more and walking less. Jumping and running involved more obvious effort.