Factors Which Influence Owners When Deciding to Use Chemotherapy in Terminally Ill Pets
Animal Health Research Group, Hartpury University Centre, Gloucester GL19 3BE, UK
Veterinary Nursing Research Group, Hartpury University Centre, Gloucester GL19 3BE, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Clive J. C. Phillips
Received: 17 October 2016 / Accepted: 4 March 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
Cancer is as common amongst pets as it in humans. Chemotherapy can be integrated into treatment regimes for terminally ill pets to attempt to shrink tumours to extend life expectancy, but it does not cure cancer and it can have negative side effects including vomiting, depression and behavioral changes. To date, little research has been undertaken to explore owners’ decisions whether or not to treat their animals with chemotherapy. Seventy-eight dog and cat owners completed an online questionnaire to determine if they would opt for chemotherapy if their pet was diagnosed with cancer, and asked how they thought their pet’s quality of life would be affected. Fifty-eight percent of respondents would not use chemotherapy largely due to their previous experience of it. Seventy-two percent over estimated pet survival time post chemotherapy, with most people believing it would lead to remission or a cure. Owners expected their pets to be less active, sleep more and play less, reducing their quality of life. Common side effects associated with chemotherapy were not rated as acceptable. The results suggest pet owners would benefit from an increased understanding of the positive and negative impacts of chemotherapy when initially discussing treatment options with the veterinary team.