Chemotherapy is a commonly integrated treatment option within human and animal oncology regimes. Limited research has investigated pet owners’ treatment decision-making in animals diagnosed with malignant neoplasia. Dog and cat owners were asked to complete an online questionnaire to elucidate factors which are key to the decision making process. Seventy-eight respondents completed the questionnaire in full. Fifty-eight percent of pet owners would not elect to treat pets with chemotherapy due to the negative impact of the associated side effects. Seventytwo percent of respondents over estimated pet survival time post chemotherapy, indicating a general perception that it would lead to remission or a cure. Vomiting was considered an acceptable side effect but inappetence, weight loss and depression were considered unacceptable. Owners did expect animals’ to be less active, sleep more and play less, but common side effects were not rated as acceptable despite the potential benefits of chemotherapy. Based on the results, veterinary teams involved with oncology consultations should establish if clients have prior experience of cancer treatments and their expectations of survival time. Quality of life assessments should also be implemented during initial oncology consultations and conducted regularly during chemotherapy courses to inform client decision making and to safe guard animal welfare.
Katie Carroll administrator