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The Chemotherapy Decision: Joys and Regrets

No matter what kind of cancer your Tripawd has, if you’ve faced the chemotherapy decision you know how difficult it is to decide whether or not to proceed with treatment. At first glance it appears that every Tripawds member has opted for chemotherapy, but a closer look reveals that many have opted out.

pet cancer chemotherapy regrets

When you’re in the middle of deciding about chemotherapy it’s so hard to know which way to go. The truth is, every situation is different and there are no right or wrong choices. At Tripawds, nobody is judged about their treatment choices. No matter which way a parent decides to go, we’re here for support every hop of the way.

Tripawds Founder Spirit Jerry did not have chemotherapy. We chose not to pursue it because at the time we lived several hours from the nearest vet oncology clinic. Later when his lung mets were discovered, we went with metronomic chemotherapy and the at-home chemo regimen gave him seven more great months with us.

pet cancer chemotherapy regrets
Tripawds Founder Spirit Jerry lived two years after his osteosarcoma diagnosis.

It’s human nature to ponder all the “What Ifs” about chemotherapy treatments. Do a search of the Tripawds Discussion Forums for the words “Chemotherapy” and “Regrets” and you’ll find a wide variety of members’ experiences through the years. For example, a few years ago one member wanted to know about:

Regrets About Chemotherapy

I see we have a post about “regrets about amputation” but I don’t believe I’ve ready a post about “regrets about chemotherapy” and if there are any? We’re still trying to decide which way we’re going with this and it is difficult for us . . . — Scott, Charlotte & PEZ

To which many members replied, including those who did and didn’t pursue chemotherapy.

pet cancer chemotherapy regrets

If you are wondering about the pros and cons of chemotherapy and what others have experienced, here are some Discussion Forum posts you may find helpful:

Amputation without Chemotherapy

pet cancer chemotherapy regrets

Chemo Options Dilemma


Two months past diagnosis . To chemo or not to chemo?


Chemotherapy for Cats

Tripawd cats are a relatively new part of our community and we don’t have too many feline members who went through chemotherapy — yet. As more Tripawd cats join us, more experiences get shared. Those who have already shared their experiences in their blogs include:

Jill’s Journey

Fredo’s Fight

Prince Vince

Misty Grey

Dao the Chinese Cat

Did you choose chemotherapy for your Tripawd? Did you decide against it?  We hope you’ll share your experiences below and help other members in their own difficult search for answers.

16 thoughts on “The Chemotherapy Decision: Joys and Regrets”

  1. My beloved 10 year old Black Russian Terrier Ruby just had her right rear leg amputated 2 weeks ago for an osteosarcoma. She is recovering well from the amputation, and I am struggling with the chemo decision. Ru does not like being in the car, and going to the vet stresses her out. The drive to the oncologist is 45 minutes each way. The infusions would require her to stay at least a half day, and sometimes all day. I can’t go in with her. The whole thing sounds awful for her even if she doesn’t get sick from the treatments. I was hoping for an oral treatment we could do at home. I’m trying to read through all of the materials the onc vet sent after the consult, and my head is spinning.

    • Ruby’s mom, sorry you are facing this tough decision. It does sound like Ruby’s quality of life would be adversely affected, but honestly the one thing about chemotherapy is that you can always stop if you don’t like how she is coping. There are no right or wrong choices though. Please consider posting in the Tripawds Discussion Forums for feedback from the community.

  2. I really appreciate reading all of this! Tomorrow my girl and I start of first of 5 treatments. Hoping for the best! She was diagnosed with osteosarcoma middle of March fours days later had her hind leg amputated. Has healed really well and is getting back to herself again. My only regret at this point was not amputating the leg when she broke it as a pup. Had I known our odds of developing osteosarcoma at that that time I would have. Poor girl has had too many surgeries I just want her to be happy and enjoy her life one day at a time.

  3. Our wire fox terrier, Porter, developed hemangiosarcoma in Spring, 2015, and his right rear leg was amputated in June, 2015. Our vet recommended chemotherapy also, and we wrestled with the decision back and forth, back and forth. The prognosis was 6-8 months with amputation and a few months more possibly with chemo, but with a range of possibilities from no additional time to as much as a year. We finally decided not to do chemo, although I have second guessed myself many times since. I did not want to put Porter through that experience, I wanted him to have quality of life for the months he had left, and he was a strong, outside type terrier, I thought he might shock the world. But he started declining in December, 2015, and we lost him just before New Year’s Day. I do think about the extra months we might have had with him had I chosen chemo, and still go back and forth to this day – if there was a guarantee of 3 extra months with chemo perhaps I would have chosen it. There are no easy answers. We miss Porter every day.

    • Russ we are so very sorry for your loss, please accept our condolences. And don’t beat yourself up…in time you will probably see that your choice was the best one for Porter. I know we wrestled with the no-chemo decision for a long time until our hearts healed and we knew it was the best choice for Jerry. We hope your heart can find that kind of peace as well. Feel free to join us in our Forums to help you at this tough time, we’re here to help.

  4. Lina was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma in October 2014. We opted for an amputation and a low dose, pill form chemo (lomustine) —based on what our budget would allow. She was given 6-9 months and she’s still going strong (16 months later!). She is not taking the chemo anymore because it seems to be affecting her liver. But, it has kept her hemangiosarcoma at bay for so long that we’re glad we did it. So thankful to have had more time with her!

  5. Thank you soooo much everypawdy for sharing your experiences here, it means so much to folks who are just now starting their own journey and will help others for many years to come.

    • Hi Rene and Jim
      Thank you for your site and the wonderful community it is.
      I’m so glad to have found you, the information and support is incredible.
      Our lab Mervyn who will be 6 in June had his front right limb amputated 11 days ago due to a high grade mast cell tumor in his paw. He is doing remarkably well so far however we are due to start chemo on Monday 20th and are deliberating whether or not to go ahead. At the time of amputation all tests done prior to surgery indicated no spread of the cancer and we definitely got good margins removing the entire leg. I have asked for a prognosis and it seems we would need to run a Proliferation Panel to understand that more fully, at the moment I think I am being given a statistic of 6months median survival time but I read something different every time I research it. It will cost €500 (we live in Ireland) to have the panel done but our insurance may cover it. The Veterinary Hosp is 5 minutes away from our home and so too is our Vet. We are prepared to cancel our one week family holiday in June should we go ahead because he will be 4 weeks into his treatment at that time. His protocol will be once a week for 4 weeks then once every two weeks for 8 more weeks. I worry the chemo will be alot for Mervyn ontop of expecting him to recover from his amputation and if this treatment is impacting his quality of life. I wonder should we let him just recover from the amputation. I will read the threads on this area chemo and regrets and hope it will help us make a decision. Kind regards, Sinead

      • Hello Sinead and Mervyn, we are so glad you came to share your story with us. Please do consider stopping by the Forums and introducing yourself, we would love to provide more help there OK?

        The thing about chemotherapy is you can always stop if you think Mervyn isn’t having a good quality of life. And that’s the number one concern of every oncologist, to ensure quality of life for the patient. Most dogs handle it so much better than we imagine, and sail through with nary a side effect. Those who do get one or two usually experience minor nausea and diarrhea, easily treatable with medications.

        I know it sounds scary but you can give it a try and take things day by day, just like Mervyn. And if not, that is perfectly OK too. It is a personal choice and nobody here will condemn you for whatever path you take. Best of luck to you both!

  6. Callie and I are still on this journey. She was diagnosed Sept 11, 2015, with Osteosarcoma and her amputation two weeks later, once the incision was healed we started 6 rounds of chemo, she finished her 6th Feb 1st, 2016. She did have some nausea after the first chemo session but we controlled it with anti-nausea meds. I also added goats milk to her diet to help with her appetite and give her daily probiotics to her diet. She actually regained the weight she had lost pre-amputation during chemo. She runs and does triple rolls in the snow and is enjoying her life. We take it one day at a time and live in the moment. There are no guarantees regarding how much additional time you will have by doing chemo but we don’t live like that I simply live in the moment with her. If at any time during this she had reacted negatively and was not enjoying her life I would have stopped but that has not been the case. At the end of our journey, I will know that I did everything possible to give her more time while keeping her rights at the forefront and respecting her life. Callie will turn 8 March 17th of this year, I adopted her when she was 5 from the Great Pyrenees Rescue of Wisconsin. Prior to finding her forever home with me she lived on the end of a chain. When I adopted her I made her a promise to stand steadfastly by her, to love her until her last breath, I intend to keep that promise. If you’d like to email my email is The decisions are hard in this journey, I would say trust your heart you know your dog or cat better than anyone else.

  7. I did chemo with Sassy. We did 4 round and were scheduled for a 5th sometime between those 2 the lung mets appeared. Do I regret doing chemo? No I don’t. I would do it all over again. I thought with the chemo it would give her the greatest chance at survival. That being said did I wonder about the side affects and was I scared? Yes to both of those. Sassy did get nauseous and we did change up how the chemo was done. We gave Cornelia before the chemo and up to 5 days after.
    Had it been a bad side affect I would have stopped.
    Sally brought up some good points about knowing your dog/cat. Sassy liked the vets & going for rides so that didn’t play into it but had it started to make a difference I would have stopped also

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  8. This is such a great topic as before Lily was diagnosed with osteosarcoma I am pretty sure I naively stated several times that I would *never* put my dog through chemotherapy. An easy thing to say when you’re not actually faced with the decision!

    When Lily was diagnosed, I had no hesitation about amputation. That was the best chance we could give her for a great quality of life in the time we had left. Then the chemo conversation came along and all of my pre-osteosarcoma notions were distant memories.

    Sally’s decision process is so spot-on to my experience. The only real struggle I had with the chemo debate was the unknown: Maybe chemo wouldn’t give her more time but what if it would? No one can tell you she gets x number of days/months/years if you don’t do chemo and x if you do. So I decided I needed to make the decision that I could live with. That meant trying everything as long as Lily was still her happy, healthy, wonderful self. We did the 5 rounds and then started the at-home mets. We had 7 amazing months together….nowhere near long enough but we were blessed with the knowledge that our time together was short and we absolutely made the most of it.

    It’s such a tough decision and there is no “right” answer. Just go with your heart and do what works best for your loved one…..and lap up every moment with them…..even the ones you spend in traffic driving to and from appointments and sitting in exam rooms. I still have a special place in my heart for the highway exit to the oncologist’s office. I always check the rearview mirror for those beautiful blue eyes looking back at me.

    Kerry and Angel’s Lily and Elliott…and don’t forget Augustus, our new addition to the family

  9. my 10yrs old large mix had her amputation due to osteosarcoma and started chemo after her incision was healed, about 2-3 weeks later. She went through alternating chemo regimes of carboplatin and doxirubicin, totallying 9 treatments. We tried palladia after but she had a reaction at her 3 week mark, we stopped the oral palladia and had not persued metronomic mostly due to random minor things not related.
    How I decided:
    1-Based on the research of OSA, since like 90% of dogs already have microscopic spread upon diagnosis, to me if I only did the amputation, I was only doing half the job and may or may not really help her, and so I felt If I made the choice I needed to go all the way. At least to try it, if she didnt take to it, at least I knew I attempted all I could within my hands. and I felt I would be playing Russian roulette if I didnt do everything.

    2- Dog/cats don’t react to chemo like humans, amazingly. Yes there are some cases that they cant handle it, but veterinarian medicine has seemed to do a pretty good job with supplying guardians with counter acting meds if needed, some anti nausea and anti-diarrhea meds. My girl never needed any of it!!

    So to me, this was my thought process in my dogs case. There are always other factors and details per each dog case that ultimately determine the best course, just like a human. In my mind, if it was a human with cancer that could be potentially treated, would you choose not to?..
    Don’t let the word “chemo” scare you.. Use the word, cancer treatment, cancer killing formula. It can help.

  10. My Happy Hannah (125 lb. Bull Mastiff, 8 1/2 yrs. old) had her rear leg amputated due to osteosarcoma. She started four rounds of Carboplatin chemotherapy a little over three weeks after her surgery. She completed all four rounds with no issues at all. She graced me with her happy presence for an additional one year and two months.

    My decision process was this:

    ***She could stop if she had bad side effects.
    ***She enjoyed car rides and her trips to the vet.
    ***While “statistics” at the time showed a POSSIBLE slight extension in time, I had been on this site to know, in my opinion, it really is a crap shoot with or without.
    ***For me, the main deciding factor was this: Which decision could I live with the best, free of second guessing and free of “what ifs” (if at all possible on this crazy journey!). The answer to that wuestion for me was, I knew I had to try.

    You know your dog or cat best. You know yourself best. There TRULY is no right or wrong. You will make a decision out of love and that will be THE best decision. Whatever you do, treat each day as a gift, as a bonus day. Savor it, treasure it, and let NOTHING interfere with your time together. Love in the moment, in the NOW.

    With love and light to all

    Sally and My Chunky Spiritual Being Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!


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