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

Giving Your Dog Chemotherapy at Home, Safely

Updated: January 12th, 2022


Have to give your dog chemotherapy at home? Dr. Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology) has tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.

I get a lot of questions about how to give your dog chemotherapy at home, safely (for example, during metronomic chemotherapy).  In this article, I’m going to go over my answer for some of the most frequently asked questions.

Is my pet safe to be around?

Yes, your pet is safe to be around after treatment. Being around family members – humans and other pets in the home –  is an important part of your pet’s life. Enjoying normal activities together – including petting, hugging, and kissing – are all safe. 

However, the excretions (urine, feces, vomit) from pets receiving chemotherapy can be hazardous.  It is therefore important to minimize our exposure to chemotherapy, and common-sense precautions should be taken.

If you are administrating oral chemotherapy at home

If you are administering chemo at home, please follow these precautions.

  • Keep the medication in the vial, and do not store it in the kitchen.
  • Ensure children and pets do not have access to the drugs.
  • Do not eat, drink, or chew gum when giving the medication.
  • Do not crush or break the pills or capsules.
  • Wear unpowdered latex or non-latex gloves when handling the medication.
  • Some medications, like Palladia, are coated, and you can handle the pills without gloves. However, the coating breaks down when the pill gets moist. So if your dog spits out the pill, please put on gloves prior to picking up to readminister.
  • Dispose of the gloves promptly, and wash your hands thoroughly after administration.

Clean up after your pet

My primary safety concern is for people who are mixing and handling chemotherapy agents, like pills, at home.

For those of you who are bringing your dog home after a chemotherapy session in the hospital, there is less risk, because you are handling just the urine and feces.

Sounds gross, I know, but we think the metabolites in chemotherapy drugs have been broken down by the patient’s body by the time they reach the urine and feces.

These metabolites are far less active than the original drug was. So, it’s a safer scenario than the one above.

Still, please use common sense precautions and follow good basic hygiene.

  • Wear gloves for handling feces, urine or vomit (i.e. if they have an accident in the house/apartment, or you are cleaning the litter box) for at least 72 hours after treatment.
  • Soiled bedding should be washed separately and go through two wash cycles before being used again.
  • Use detergent to clean floors, carpets, or countertops.  Wear gloves when cleaning.
  • Accidental exposure: Wash skin thoroughly.  If your skin becomes irritated, contact your physician.

Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more helpful tools and information

What if my other pet eats the poop of the dog getting chemo?

Ewww, gross.

But this happens, sometimes, right? So how much should you panic?

It depends on the chemo drug.

Some are excreted mostly in the urine, like cyclophosphamide. (That’s why it’s good to encourage your pet that gets this to pee on grass, where urine will drain quickly.)

If your dog has had a treatment with one of these drugs, the likelihood that another dog will literally ingest it is rather small. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if the drug your dog is on is excreted in the urine.

Some drugs, like vincristine and doxorubicin, are metabolized and excreted in the feces, which may pose more of a problem.

If your dog has just had one of these drugs in a chemotherapy session, and your other dog (or any other dog) comes along and eats it, yes, there is a risk that dog would get a smaller dose of the broken down chemo metabolites.

For example, if a patient’s canine companion ate all the patient’s feces over a 72 hour period it would ingest about 30% the original dose. MUCH of that would be destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract and pooped out.

Remember it is not unchanged chemo drug being excreted, but metabolites and the risk is relatively low overall.

So again, use common-sense precautions to minimize exposure. This basically means picking up your dog’s poop as soon as it is released.

What if I’m Pregnant?

If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, are breast-feeding, are immunosuppressed, or are taking immunosuppressive medication:

  • Please avoid contact with any chemotherapy drugs.
  • Also, please avoid contact with your pet and your pet’s waste for a minimum of 72 hours after chemotherapy has been given.
  • Talk to your physician.

Live Long, Live Well

Dr. Sue

Leave a Comment

  1. oralia gonzalez on July 22, 2023 at 12:56 am

    we just found out our Shih Tzu has TTC (cancer in the bladder & prostate) we are confused, considering the option of shots because I have auto-immune disorder, so i trying to learn as before his first injection. his Texas oncologist has not explained very much, and I am very concerned. thanks

  2. oralia gonzalez on July 22, 2023 at 12:55 am

    we just found out our Shih Tzu has TTC (cancer in the bladder & prostate) we are confused, considering the option of shots because I have auto-immune disorder, so i trying to learn as before his first injection. his Texas oncologist has not explained very much, and I am very concerned, listening to videos for knowledge. thanks

  3. Jane Kavanagh on March 2, 2023 at 8:44 am

    My dog is just of to go on chemo for lymphoma sounds a silly question but after she has had a wee on the grass in the garden I wash it down what about her paws and the paws of my other dog as they come into a carpet area do I have to wash there feet to ? Also are my small grandchild safe around them exspecially crawling or playing on the carpet area Thanku Jane

  4. Wendy Muguerza on January 29, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    I have been giving my dog Veyroyl for months now. A few months back I looked up and read about the medication. In My reading I found out that it’s a chemo medication. My dog has Cushing’s. When I spoke to my vet about it and asked her why she didn’t tell me it was a chemo medication and I have been touching it for months, but always washing my hands afterwards. I was floored that she did not know that. Can anything of happened to me touching this medicine for months. I’ve been having some medical issues lately and I’m wondering if it has any thing to do with the touching of that medication.,

  5. Chris Berch on January 12, 2023 at 10:15 am

    We have just started a dog,one of 5,on Palladia…wondering about something to wash down the cement after she pees or poops to ensure none of the others step in any residue….

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