Doxorubicin is an anti-cancer drug that is classified as an anthracycline glycoside. It is used by veterinarians to treat a variety of cancers and tumors in veterinary patients.

Treating Cancer With Doxorubicin

Doxorubicin is a commonly prescribed anti-cancer drug that has shown positive results against lymphoma in cats and dogs, thyroid cancer in dogs and mammary gland carcinoma in dogs. It is also used to treat a number of different melanomas and sarcomas, including osteosarcoma.

Doxorubicin works by targeting rapidly dividing cells and impairing the DNA synthesis of these cells.

Possible Side Effects of Doxorubicin in Veterinary Medicine

Doxorubicin is an extremely powerful anti-cancer medication and therefore, it has the potential to cause the animal patient to experience certain side effects. Possible side effects of this medication include hair loss, nausea, fever, stomatitis (ulcers in the mouth area) and loss of appetite.

The animal will have to be monitored while this medication is administered, as bone marrow suppression and cardiac toxicity are a risk with doxorubicin.

Doxorubicin Precautions

Doxorubicin should not be administered to an animal with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to it. This medication should also be avoided in pregnant animals. Certain breeds, such as Dobermans, Great Danes and Boxers are genetically predisposed to dilative cardiomyopathy, so they should be carefully screened and monitored while receiving this medication since their predisposition places them at a higher at risk of experiencing cardiotoxicity.

When it is being administered, it is very important that the IV be firmly seated, as this drug can cause severe skin injury if it is exposed to the skin of the animal.

Some patients may receive a dose of diphenhydramine or dexamethasone prior to the administration of doxorubicin in order to block any potential allergic reactions.

Doxorubicin Possible Drug Interactions

Consult with your veterinarian regarding any drugs or supplements your pet may be taking prior to treatment with doxorubicin. Drugs such as cyclophosphamide and other anti-cancer medications have been shown to interact with doxorubicin, increasing the risk of toxicity.

How Is Doxorubicin Administered?

Doxorubicin is available with a prescription and administration is performed by the designated animal care professional. The medication is administered in a hospital setting through an intravenous drip.

Author: Giano Panzarella