Vets and veterinary oncologists use Doxorubicin (also called Adriamycin) in many different chemotherapy plans.
Common dog cancers treated with this drug include lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, other sarcomas, and carcinomas.
This is not a mickey-mouse drug. It is one of the main players in conventional dog cancer chemo treatments. It also has corresponding side effects that, from time to time, are heavy duty and should be taken into account.
NOTE: The reader should be advised that the purpose of this content is not to crucify doxorubicin. It has helped many dogs. Rather, this is information that should be in your head as an informed advocate of your dog’s health.
How Doxorubicin Is Given
Doxorubicin is given as an injection in the vein at the vet hospital. If the tip of the catheter used to deliver the drug is not in the vein (but still under the skin), the drug will end up in the tissues around the vein.
Doxorubicin is very toxic to living tissue when given in this way and will cause this tissue around the vein to die.
Doxorubicin Side Effects
In addition to injuries caused by bad injection technique — which are NOT common, but can occur — doxorubicin may also cause stomach upset, inflammation of the colon, and delay the regrowth of hair. Some dogs will develop allergic reactions during doxorubicin injections. It can also cause bone marrow suppression (anemia and low white blood cell and platelet counts).
It is known to cause damage to the muscle in the heart, in some dogs, which can be quite serious. Check out this abstract for more info on doxorubicin toxicity.
How to Mitigate Side Effects
And of course, you can find out more about this drug and every other chemo agent, in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. Dr. Ettinger and I also cover multiple ways to support your dog with and without chemotherapy.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.