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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Palladia, First Dog Cancer Drug FDA Approved But Not Great

Updated: March 14th, 2019

Palladia, the first drug officially approved for use in treating dog cancer has arrived.  This was described in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide by it’s pre-market name, SU11654. Now it’s finally ready for release.

Palladia, made by Pfizer, has been approved by the FDA. It is expected to be available next year.  This drug is approved for treating mast cell tumors in the dog.

The fact that this is the first drug approved for dog cancer may be odd for many.  What about all those chemotherapy drugs that are used? They are not FDA approved?

Well, the facts are that vets and veterinary oncologists have been using human drugs the whole time.  As a matter of fact, many of the drugs we use generally are not FDA-approved for use in the canine.


It turns out that FDA drug approval is allowed for one species at a time.  On top of that, approval is for one disease or problem.  In veterinary medicine, we have cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, monkeys, snakes, and so on…many different species, and they all need treatment.

It would take hundred of years and staggering amounts of money to get all our drugs approved for all these different species and diseases.

So vets have “off-label” drug use privileges.  Off-label drug use means we can use drugs approved for one species (including humans) freely in  other species.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts around Palladia.

Like most of the conventional treatments we use in treating dogs with cancer, the numbers for Palladia are a bit disheartening.

The median duration of objective response (meaning how long the Palladia’s effect lasted on mast cell tumors) was 12 weeks. Yes, 3 months of tumor shrinkage or disappearance  is what you can expect. This number is taken from the original study.

After 3 months the cancer came back.

On top of this, not all dogs with mast cell tumors even responded.  It turns out that roughly 40% of dog with mast cell tumors will actually respond to the drug, while the majority do not.

This means that while about 40% of the time the cancer either went away or shrank, in the remaining 60% of dogs Palladia had no effect.

Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more information and tools to help your dog with cancer


If you would like to look at the original data for yourself, here is the link.

This highlights important points.

First, there is a big to do about Palladia.  But, the actual statistics are depressing.  Interesting contrast between hype and reality.

Second, I think most guardians of dogs afflicted with mast cell tumors would not be jumping for joy  at these numbers, in spite of the festivities at Pfizer.

Lastly, this shows how important it is to leap sideways in our efforts to really treat canine cancer.

The more I think about dog cancer, and disease in general, the more I believe early choices are key, long before old age.

I will start addressing how dog cancer does not start in old age, in future posts. Instead, it starts many, many years before hand. We need to start taking steps earlier, much earlier.

Best to all,

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Danette Simpson on November 7, 2019 at 3:31 am

    Could you pls help
    our dog has been diagnosed with cancer
    just want to ask qts pls pls pls pls please , want to do everything possible to help him please
    980-348-7865 our home
    803-323-6197 work
    803-329-6785 work
    704-492-5272-home cell

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on November 8, 2019 at 7:32 am

      Hello Danette,

      Thanks for writing and we’re sorry to hear about your boy. As we’re not veterinarians here, we can’t offer you medical advice. If you haven’t gotten a copy of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, you definitely should. It’s helped all of us here tremendously, and has hundreds of thousands of others, too.

      It goes over conventional treatments, but also supplements, nutraceuticals like Apocaps, and diet (very important) — as well as mind-body strategies. It’s really, really helpful — like a roadmap.

      If you are in need of a veterinarian or a specialist, there is an amazing website you can go to and search for veterinarians or oncologists in your area. Here’s the link: or if you’re looking for a holistic vet, here’s the link to search for one in your area:

      Alternatively, you can reach out to Dr. Dressler’s vet hospital and see if they can book you in for a consult 🙂 Here’s the link to their website:

  2. Jane on May 29, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Hi do you have any suggestions or comments for carotid body tumors on neck. As you know the tumor is rare. We did stereotactic radiation but unfortunately it did not work. They are going to try Palladia, but I know it’s not a cure. My dog is on dexamethasone.
    Thank you.

  3. Rob trask on May 17, 2019 at 4:40 am

    What page do you talk about the best time of day to give various Chemo therapies? I can’t seem to find it again, so frustrating.

    Your book has been so important to my dog and me.
    Thanks, Rob

  4. Jimmy on April 1, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Hi dog has a mass on left side of his neck did aspiration t-4 throiyd test chest and throat x-rays results chest clear blood test t-4 1.3. T-4
    13.6 help need your advice

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on April 2, 2019 at 8:17 am

      Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks for writing. As we’re not veterinarians, we can’t offer you medical advice 🙁

      However, if you would like a private consult with Dr. Dressler directly, you can always contact his veterinary hospital. Here’s the link:

  5. Diana on March 15, 2019 at 8:22 am

    My 9 year Am Bulldog – Puppy – has thyroid cancer. 6 cm tumor, fixed, with no signs of cancer in his lungs and no symptoms of the cancer. He has been on CBD oil for several years to treat his back arthritis/bone spurs, and it has helped him so much. He is just completing his first week of Palladia, and we have increased his dosage of CBD oil to a cancer level (2 ml). I am just beginning to read your book (love it). Would the apocaps be tolerated in conjunction with Palladia? Or should it be one or the other? I have not yet discussed with the oncologist (we have had one appointment with her to date so I am not familiar with her stance on non-pharma products). We are not a pharma med family so having him on Palladia is huge for us to the point we are nervous even having the meds in our house. Would appreciate your opinion before we discuss with the oncologist. We have our first post-med (two week) check next Thursday.

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on March 18, 2019 at 7:13 am

      Hi Diana,

      Thanks for writing. On Pages 169-172 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, Dr. D does write the precautions for using Apocaps. He also writes that you should follow your vet or your oncologists advice about using Apocaps at the same time as conventional treatments. Your vet can also contact Dr. D directly for a professional-to-professional consult if needed 🙂

  6. Jen Lynch on February 5, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    We’ve used Palladia to treat an inoperable anal gland cancer for 10 months. Considering he was estimated to have about two months without the Palladia (it had already metastasized to his lungs), we think it’s pretty miraculous. We’ve had a couple of periods of upset stomach issues, but by and large his quality of life has been very good.

  7. Sheryl abirenbaum on January 12, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    My dog was diagnosed with lymphangiosarcoma in September of 2018. Since there are only 14 documented cases of this cancer there is not a lot of information available to us. We started chemotherapy and she has had 4 treatments thus far. She is a 5 year old female husky and has tolerated the chemotherapy very well. The prognosis is not good based on the other documented cases. We are extremely discouraged by the lack of treatment options for our dog. Hoping for a miracle.

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on January 14, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Hello Sheryl,

      Thanks for writing, and we are sorry to hear about your girl. We’re not veterinarians here in customer support, so we can’t offer you medical advice. However, we can provide you with information based off Dr. Dressler’s writing 🙂

      As Dr. D writes in this article, as the protocols for veterinary care are neither truly standardized nor enforced by the AVMA, there is no standard of care for dog’s with cancer. As each dog is unique, a cancer treatment that help one dog, may not help another. Deciding on a treatment plan for your dog can be difficult. Consult with your vet, or oncologist, and find out what options they recommend, as they know you, and your dog the best. From there, you will be able to decide what treatment options YOU think would be best for your girl. Do you think she can handle the side effects of chemo? Are you willing to handle the side-effects? How important is life-quality to you? Those are just some of the things that you will have to take into consideration when making your decision.

      Here are some articles that you may find helpful in making a decision for your girl:

      You can always consult with another veterinarian, a veterinary oncologist, or a holistic vet, to see if they have any suggestions that will work alongside your girl’s current treatment plan. Here’s the link to an article on Finding a Vet

      As Dr. D writes in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, there are many things that you can do to help your dog with cancer, such as conventional treatments (chemo, surgery, or radiation), diet, nutraceuticals, mind-body strategies and immune system boosters and anti-metastatics. Here’s a link to the Dog Cancer Diet PDF that readers of the blog can get for free :

      We hope this helps!

  8. Deborah Pagano on January 5, 2019 at 4:55 am

    Hi Dr D
    My dog just started on Palladia for a large inoperable MCT. Just finished a month of Vinblastine. Is there a better method to shrink the tumor. I have an appt with a radiation oncologist this Monday 1/7/19.

  9. Jacobson on December 20, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    Dr D,
    thank you for your research, creating the apocaps, the survival guide and your articles. Xaidou, our 15-year old yellow lab has a mass on her leg, which grew larger and got infected. We went to a vet oncologist, the biopsy showed MACT, possibly spread to the lymph node. The doctor advised against surgery because of the size of the mass and Xaidou’s age. Xaidou overall is in good health and always reacts positively, absorbs love and care.
    We started palladia, with steroids the first two weeks and gabapentine. We started apocaps, last Friday, when we stopped the steroids. The mass within the first days started shrinking and after the first week Xaidou had energy, enjoyed every day, started going for short walks 2-3 times a day.
    On Monday, 2 weeks into the treatment with palladia, we stopped gabapentine and then on Tuesday, that is the following day, Xaidou again started losing the strength of her back legs. We started gabapentine again on Wednesday, yesterday, hoping that it is withdrawal symptom. She’s been taking apocaps for one week. Should we continue giving her the apocaps? Could the apocaps have side effects? Still today she stands up with difficulty and then she barely walks a few feet. What is your opinion? What could have caused sudden and dramatic change?

    Thank you for your time

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on January 2, 2019 at 2:01 pm

      Hello Jacobson, thanks for writing. We’re not veterinarians here in customer support, and Dr. D might not see this post in a timely fashion, so we’re going to give you some general information. In general, Apocaps CX can be used with gabapentin, because it works on different systems altogether. The same is true for Palladia, in general. Apocaps is extremely safe, and GI upset (usually loose stool) is the only common side effect. Loose stool/GI upset only occurs in about 5% of dogs, which is totally typical of any change in diet, medication or supplement. As for what could have caused the change, keep in mind that dogs often hide their symptoms for as long as possible, and then “decompensate” very quickly. Basically, they are super-stoic — they make no complaints at all until they simply can’t function anymore. Here’s a good article explaining why: It’s possible that she still needs that pain control to walk. Also, if your girl has a mass on her leg, and its MCT, which is known for sudden and weird changes (oncologists call it the “trickster” cancer), it’s certainly possible that she just is getting worse. It’s also possible that a lymph node or other mass is swelling and pressing on a nerve, which is causing the walking problem. It’s best to call your veterinarian or oncologist and explain what’s been going on and see what they suggest. There may be something they can adjust or do differently to help her. We certainly wish you the very best.

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    […] Palladia, First Dog Cancer Drug FDA Approved But Not. – Palladia, the first drug officially approved for use in treating dog cancer has arrived. This was described in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide by it’s pre-m […]

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