Frequently Asked Questions about Radiation Oncology in Dogs and Cats

It can be scary and confusing when your dog or cat is diagnosed with cancer. The following are some of the questions that we receive regarding Veterinary Radiation Oncology. If you have a question that is not listed here, please give us a call.

How soon after a cancer diagnosis should I talk with a veterinary Radiation Oncologist?

Tumors grow at varying rates; some doubling in size in a very short period of time. It is critically important to begin the process of killing cancer cells as soon as possible. Therefore, an appointment should be scheduled with a veterinary radiation oncologist as soon as possible.

What should I bring to my initial radiation therapy consult with the Radiation Oncologist?

For your initial consultation, you will need to bring as much pertinent information as possible concerning your pet’s medical history, including any bloodwork, histopathologic (“path”) reports, radiographs, and CT or MRI scans. If your primary veterinarian has this information, the records can be faxed, uploaded via our referring vet section of our website, or sent via overnight delivery prior to your appointment with the veterinary radiation oncologist.

How many RT treatments are necessary to best treat my pet’s type of cancer?

The number and frequency of RT (Radiation Therapy) treatments, as well as the RT doses, is carefully determined on a case-by-case basis. Most patients receive 3 to 6 RT treatments for palliative therapy and 16 or 19 treatments for curative therapies.

Can I feed my pet the day of its scheduled radiation therapy treatment?

No. It is critically important that you do not feed your pet the day of the treatment. Giving your pet water is fine, but no food.

If you accidentally feed your pet within the 10-hour window prior to the RT treatment time, please let a veterinary RT technician know as soon as possible so they can reschedule the RT treatment during a time that is safe for your pet.

What kind of anesthesia is used for the RT treatments? Will my pet be “groggy” after its treatment?

Only the finest anesthesia agents, such as sevoflurane, are used in conjunction with the RT treatments. When the treatment is completed, pets are awake within minutes. An RT technician will make sure patients are awake and alert before delivering the pet to its owner. Therefore, if your pet’s tumor is located near vital structures or organs, a three-dimensional treatment plan will be recommended.

What is a 3-Dimensional treatment plan and when is it necessary?

Three-dimensional treatment planning for is generally used for cancers that are located near critical tissues, such as the brain. This state-of-the-art technology enables the Radiation Oncologist to create a plan for the best outcome while minimizing damage to normal cells.

My pet is undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Which therapy causes nausea?

Radiation Therapy does not cause nausea, except, in some cases, when the tumor(s) being irradiated is near the stomach. However, many of the drugs used for chemotherapy can cause nausea. If your pet is undergoing both chemotherapy and radiation therapy and experiences nausea, and its tumors are not in the stomach region, then your medical oncologist should be consulted to discuss potential therapy modifications to decrease nausea.

I’m from out of state and must board my pet at the MedVet facilities for a few days each week while it undergoes its RT treatments. Need I worry about my pet being lonely there?

This is a concern of many of our out-of-state clients who have to board their pets for a few days. Our technicians are drawn to careers in veterinary medicine due to their compassion for animals and interest in enhancing the lives of all pets under their care. It’s a promise that your pet will get plenty of TLC from the MedVet and Radiation Oncology Center staff.