FAQs For Pet Owners

Q.  What should I expect from a visit to VACC?

A.  Laura or Maureen will perform a complete and thorough physical examination on your animal.  Based on these initial findings, additional tests and treatment options will be discussed. Depending on your pet’s condition; staging, diagnostic testing and management may include:

  • Advanced laboratory testing of various blood or tissue samples
  • Cytology, biopsies and tissue analysis
  • Diagnostic Imaging – ultrasound, radiography (x-rays), CT scans, MRIs
  • Chemotherapy
  • Discussion or arrangement for other cancer treatment modalities such as surgery or radiotherapy
Q. How do I make an appointment with VACC?

A.  We are a referral service, appointments can made through your veterinarian.  Please refer your vet to this website if they are unfamiliar with VACC.

Q. Can I feed my pet prior to their appointment?

A.  Food should be withheld from 10pm the night before, water does not need to be restricted.  If your pet has a medical condition where fasting is inappropriate, please contact VACC or your veterinarian for advice.

Q.  How long is a consultation?

A.  Initial consultations usually last between 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Chemotherapy treatments and revisits take 20 – 60 minutes.  Any necessary diagnostic tests (i.e. ultrasound, biopsy) can be performed that day, or scheduled for a day that suits you.

Q.  Will my pet get sick if treated with chemotherapy?

A.  Generally speaking 80% of pets experience minimal to no side effects, up to 5% will have some side effects which may require hospitalisation, the risk of death is low at less than 0.5%.   For more information please refer to General recommendations for management of the common side effects of chemotherapy. (download a pdf).  The side effects of the various treatment options will be discussed in detail at your initial consultation.

Q.  What if I can’t afford treatment?

A.  There are many options for treating cancer in your pet.  Some may be more costly and intensive, however there are often alternative options to suit your situation and we always discuss treatment plans directly with you before proceeding.

Q.  Am I being selfish if I treat my pet?

A.  No.  The main goal when treating cancer in pets is to improve or at least maintain a good quality of life and if this cannot be maintained at a reasonable level, often treatment is ceased and palliative care is pursued.  VACC can offer you advice in this regard as your pet’s treatment progresses over time.

Q.  How do I know ‘when it’s time’?

A.  This is a common question from pet owners, and the simple answer is that most people have such a strong bond with their pets that they will notice small changes and will be aware of “when it’s time”.  This decision is very personal and it’s important to remember that there is no incorrect decision, only one that is right for you, your pet and your family.

However if you’re unsure and need some advice on signs to look for, consult your local veterinarian or your veterinary oncologist for advice.

Quality of life is a subjective assessment but it can be judged in part by factors such as appetite, activity levels, grooming habits and performance of daily rituals (i.e. getting up to greet you when you arrive home).  Some questions that may help in your decision making include:

  • Do the bad days outnumber the good?
  • Is your pet able to do the things that make him/her happy?
  • How much does my pet’s day differ compared to before s/he was unwell?
Q.  What should I tell my children?

A.  This is a very personal topic and the answer will vary in each situation.  However, studies have shown that excluding children or giving alternate explanations (i.e. “Puss ran away”) may be more negative in the long run.  It is worth considering that children not be “sheltered” from this process and for parents to appreciate a child’s ability to comprehend the concept of death.

Q.  Can my pet receive vaccinations whilst being treated with chemotherapy?

A. Recent research indicates it is safe to vaccinate your pet while they are receiving chemotherapy. Although response to the vaccine may not be optimal, it appears that most pets respond normally and there is no increase in risk of adverse effects from the vaccine. We recommend waiting two months after chemotherapy to resume a vaccination schedule unless your pet is going into a high risk environment such as a cattery or kennels.

Flea and worming treatments can continue to be administered throughout treatment.