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Cisplatin and Doxorubicin Side Effects in Dogs

If you’re a Tripawd in West Los Angeles who needs cancer care, there’s no better crew to help you than Dr. Johnny Chretin and his colleagues at VCA Animal Hospital West Los Angeles Oncology Center.

As head of VCA’s busiest animal oncology clinic in the country, Dr. Chretin and his staff provide breakthrough treatments for all types of cancers. He’s even leading the way with one of the world’s few bone marrow transplant programs for dogs with lymphoma!

Dr. Chretin helped answer many of our questions about chemotherapy treatments in the following video (read on for more detailed information). Watch to learn the advantages, disadvantages and side effects of choosing either cisplatin (Platinol) or doxorubicin (Adriamycin) to treat your dog’s bone cancer.


Stay tuned for additional interview clips with Dr. Chretin that offer informative advice about canine bone cancers, such as:

  • Chemotherapy for treating canine chondrosarcoma
  • Bone tumor removals: do they promote or prolong metastasis?
  • Does the location of a primary tumor impact cancer development?
  • Thoughts about combining holistic and traditional oncology therapies

Doxorubicin versus Cisplatin: Survival Rates and Cost Comparisons

Both doxorubicin and cisplatin are excellent drugs for treating cancers in dogs as well as humans. But when it comes to survival times of cisplatin versus doxorubicin, cisplatin can give patients a 10 percent (or better) chance of making it to the two year survival mark.

For most of us, the costs will play a big role in deciding what treatment to pursue. If you have a choice between the two drugs, keep in mind that cisplatin costs nearly twice as much as doxorubicin. Possible side effects of cisplatin can increase those costs even more.

Another reason for the dramatic difference in costs is that doxorubicin allows the dog to go home in less than two hours after receiving the treatment, but Cisplatin requires an all-day office visit so the dog can be monitored for signs of nausea.

We all want our dogs to live as long as possible after a cancer diagnosis. But the question to ask ourselves is: can I afford to take the chance and pay the higher treatment fees of cisplatin, hoping that my dog won’t have any serious side effects and be one of the lucky 10 percent to make it to the two year mark?

Overview of Side Effects

Doxorubicin and cisplatin have respective side effects which can range from mild diarrhea to heart damage (please consult with your vet about these risks).

Doxorubicin: Typical Side Effects

  • About thirty percent of dogs do not experience any side effects
  • For dogs who do experience side effects, they usually won’t take hold for at least three days. At that point, nausea, lethargy and diarrhea can occur.
  • Prescription medications usually alleviate appetite loss, nausea and lethargy within 24 hours.
  • Less than 10 percent of patients will be hospitalized because of doxorubicin’s most common side effects. Even if this rare situation happens, they can usually be stabilized and ready to go home after 48 hours.
  • Generally once a dog has gastrointestinal side effects from doxorubicin, they won’t happen again.

Cisplatin: Typical Side Effects

  • Cisplatin’s mild side effects can strike twice: once immediately after the dose and again four or five days later.
  • Appetite will usually wane a few days after receiving cisplatin. An appetite stimulant is often required.
  • There is about a 15 percent chance of being hospitalized for side effects that don’t respond to medication.
  • Should hospitalization be necessary, a dog might stay as long as six days in the most extreme cases.

Again, keep in mind that this short list only describes the most common side effects. Both drugs carry the risk of worse side effects in rare instances. This page on Bone Cancer Dog’s chemotherapy overview describes more serious but rare risks in detail. Please talk to your vet about your concerns.

Stay tuned for more exciting new about canine bone cancer therapies from Dr. Johnny Chretin. Meanwhile, if you’re in Los Angeles and looking for the best cancer therapy around, be sure to visit Dr. Chretin at VCA Animal Hospital West Los Angeles!

Recommended Reading:

Dr. Demian Dressler’s Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Wedgewood Pharmacy: Cisplatin for Veterinary Use

Vet Info: Doxorubicin for Dogs

Dr. Dressler: The Toxicity of Potent Dog Chemo Drug Doxorubicin

Colorado State University Animal Cancer Center: Chemotherapy

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