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Cancer Doesn’t Have to Be a Scary Word

We know that it is traumatic to find out that your beloved family pet has cancer. We also understand that the treatment options can be confusing and that there are many misconceptions about treating pets with cancer. Our Veterinary Oncologists are here to replace the misconceptions and fear with knowledge and hope. We strive to provide you with accurate, in-depth information regarding your pet’s cancer and treatment options. We are dedicated to easing your concerns and supporting you and your pet through the diagnosis and treatment process.
We know that you want your pet to live as long as possible, but we also know that your pet’s quality of life is paramount. Our goal is to provide treatment options to extend your pet’s life without sacrificing quality of life.

Oncology Service FAQs

What is a board-certified veterinary oncologist?

A board-certified veterinary oncologist is a veterinarian who focuses on managing cancer. In addition to completing an undergraduate university degree and four years of veterinary school, a board-certified veterinary oncologist is similar to his/her human-medicine counterpart in that he/she has completed an internship and residency in the specialized field of oncology (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a board-certified veterinary oncologist must pass two rigorous examinations to achieve board-certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Why should I seek the care of a board-certified oncologist?

A board-certified oncologist specializes in the treatment of pets with cancer using treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy.  Veterinary oncologists have been specially trained to tailor cancer treatment plans for individual pets.  In addition, veterinary oncologists may have access to treatments (such as melanoma vaccine or Tanovea) that are not available veterinarians who are not board-certified.  At BBVSH our oncologists collaborate with our team of complementing specialists including surgeons and diagnostic imaging specialists and have easy access to consult with the team of pathologists at True North Veterinary Diagnostics in the same complex.

What is cancer?

Cancer is a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cell division leading to growth of abnormal tissue. It is believed that cancers arise from both genetic and environmental factors that lead to aberrant growth regulation of a stem cell population, or by the de-differentiation of more mature cell types.

The uncontrolled and often rapid proliferation of cells can lead to either a benign tumor or a malignant tumor (cancer). Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body or invade other tissues, but can sometimes be life threatening as a result of their location (e.g. benign brain tumors). Malignant tumors have the potential to invade other organs, spread to distant locations (metastasize), and become life threatening.

Cancer is a leading cause of death in pet cats and dogs; 50% of dogs and cats over the age of 10 years die of cancer.

How is cancer treated?

As with cancer in humans, cancer in pets may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination thereof. There are many types of cancer and the treatment approach will depend on the type of cancer and whether the cancer has spread. The oncologist will review the treatment options with you and help you decide on the best treatment option for your pet and your family circumstances.

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with chemical agents (anti-cancer drugs) designed to kill or slow the growth of cancers. Many of the drugs used to treat cancer are derived from natural substances such as plants, trees, or even bacteria and are often the same drugs used in people.

What is the goal of chemotherapy?

The goal of chemotherapy is to control or eliminate the cancer while still providing the highest quality of life for your pet. Chemotherapy drugs often do not cure cancer but rather control the cancer by killing cells and slowing the progression of the disease.

Will there be side effects of chemotherapy treatment?

Many people have experienced, either in themselves or in family members, the overwhelming side effects of chemotherapy in human cancer treatment. The vast majority of animals treated with chemotherapy do not experience these types of side effects. In veterinary oncology, our philosophy of treatment is different from that used in human medicine. While our oncologists have a very strong emphasis on prolonging life with cancer treatment, maintaining a good quality of life is the most important factor when we treat your pet.

Oncology Appointment FAQs

How do I make an Oncology appointment?

Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital strongly encourages animal owners to obtain a referral from their regular veterinarian whenever possible. This ensures the proper transfer of medical information, is beneficial to the animal and the specialty veterinarian, and will help your companion receive the appropriate care.

Once your veterinarian has sent a referral, we will contact you to set up an appointment. If you have not heard from us within 24 hours of your veterinarian sending a referral, please contact a client care representative at 604-514-8383.

If you need guidance, are unable to obtain a referral, or do not have a veterinarian, please contact a Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital client care representative at 604-514-8383.

When are oncology appointments available?

Oncology appointments are generally available Monday through Friday in Surrey.

In case of an emergency: Should your pet become more ill or require immediate intervention before your appointment, please contact our hospital and we can see you on an emergency basis through the emergency service.

What is the cost of an Oncology appointment?

The initial consult fee is $265.00 plus tax. Once your pet has been examined and you have had a discussion with the Oncologist regarding diagnostic and treatment options, you will be presented with an itemized treatment plan for the options presented to you. You may accept or decline any option.

What should I bring to my initial oncology appointment?

Please bring your pet and any current medications. Your family veterinarian should have provided records prior to your visit. However, it is a good idea to bring an extra copy of your pet’s records just in case. Please bring any x-rays/radiographs that have been performed. It is acceptable for your family veterinarian to send digital x-rays/radiographs prior to your visit.

Does my pet need to be fasted for the initial oncology and recheck oncology appointments?

In case further diagnostics are elected, please do not feed your pet after midnight; it is ok to give your pet water up until the appointment.  Please call for further instructions if your pet is diabetic, is a puppy less than 16 weeks or weighs less than 4kgs.

Does my pet need to be fasted for chemotherapy appointments?

Your pet does not need to be fasted for chemotherapy appointments unless specifically instructed.

What should I expect during my initial oncology appointment?

Initial oncology appointments may last up to an hour. When you arrive for your appointment, please check in with Reception. The receptionist will advise the oncology service that you have arrived.

An oncology assistant or technician will bring you into an exam room with your pet, complete a history form, and perform a check of your pet’s vital signs (such as heart rate, temperature, etc). The oncologist will then review the information and examine your pet. Once this is complete, the oncologist will go over the diagnosis (or any further testing that may be required to reach a diagnosis) and treatment options. Each option will be thoroughly explained so that you can make an informed choice for your pet.

A treatment plan will be prepared for you based on your pet’s specific needs. A treatment estimate will be explained and authorized by you prior to diagnostics or treatment.

We are often able to perform diagnostic procedures (such as biopsies, radiographs and ultrasounds) and treatments (such as chemotherapy) on the same day as your initial appointment, in which case you may be leaving your pet with us for several hours or for the day. Unless your pet requires surgery, it is unlikely that he or she will stay overnight. We are open 24-hours per day, so animals may be picked up in the evening if necessary.

What should I expect during my recheck oncology appointment?

Recheck appointments are often used to check the status of your pet’s overall health and to determine the status of the cancer. We often perform diagnostics such as blood work, recheck radiographs and recheck ultrasounds. In most cases, these procedures will be performed the same day as the recheck appointment, in which case your pet may need to stay one to four hours. Based on the results of these tests, we may recommend additional treatment or just additional follow-up visits.

What should I expect during a scheduled chemotherapy appointment?

Once chemotherapy has been selected as the appropriate treatment option, a chemotherapy protocol will be chosen which will lay out a drug regimen to be used for your pet. We will follow this protocol at each appointment. Sometimes protocols need to be modified or changed. We will inform you prior to any protocol changes.

Chemotherapy appointments may be made for a scheduled time. At the time of your appointment, you will be asked to fill out a form which will let us know how your pet is feeling, what, if any, medications need to be refilled, and if you have any questions or concerns.

Your pet will then be taken to the treatment area for a physical exam and required diagnostic tests such as blood work. If you have questions or concerns, the oncologist will talk to you after the diagnostic tests, but before treatment. Otherwise, the oncologist will administer chemotherapy as per the protocol or discuss with you any protocol changes that need to be made. Written discharge instructions will be provided and if you have any questions, you can discuss them with your oncologist.

What should I expect during a drop-off chemotherapy appointment?

Once chemotherapy has been selected as the appropriate treatment option, a chemotherapy protocol will be chosen which will lay out a drug regimen to be used for your pet. We will follow this protocol at each appointment. Sometimes protocols need to be modified or changed. We will inform you prior to any protocol changes.

Chemotherapy appointments can be scheduled as drop off appointments on the days that the oncology service is available. Drop-offs must generally be scheduled prior to 1pm. Pets that are dropped off before 9:30am are usually done by 1:30 and pets droppped off by 1pm are usually done by 5pm, but please call the Oncology service prior o pick-up to ensure that your pet’s treatment is complete. For drop-off appointments, you may drop off as early in the morning as you like (we are open 24-hours per day) and pick up in the afternoon or evening. If you drop off before 9am or pick-up after 4:30pm, please come to the main entrance (which faces the Costco gas-bar) rather than the oncology entrance. Please be sure to let us know your estimated pick-up time.

At the time of drop off you will be asked to fill out a drop-off form which will let us know how to reach you, how your pet is feeling, what, if any, medications need to be refilled, and if you have any questions or concerns.

During the day, the oncologist will examine your pet, perform any required diagnostic tests such as blood work, and administer chemotherapy as per the protocol, or contact you if protocol changes need to be made. Written discharge instructions will be provided and if you have any questions, you can discuss them with your oncologist at the time of pick-up (if the oncologist is available) or by phone.

Can I be with my pet during chemotherapy?

For your safety, we cannot allow you to be present during treatment. In most cases, the treatment is quick, your pet will be without you only for a short period of time, and patients usually handle their treatments very well.

How do I care for my pet once I am home?

Your pet’s activities do not need to be changed on the day of treatment or any subsequent days. The goal of therapy is to ensure that your pet can carry on with his or her normal life for as long as possible.

You will be given written discharge instructions after each appointment that will let you know if medications need to be administered, when your follow-up appointment should be, and if there are any other post-treatment instructions. You will also be provided with a chemotherapy handout, which discusses chemotherapy safety and what steps to take if side effects do occur.

Veterinary Oncology Services

Oncological and Hematological Disease Treatment

  • Lymphoma/Leukemia
  • Mast cell tumor
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Transitional cell carcinoma
  • Anal sac/perianal tumors
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Melanoma
  • Thyroid and other endocrine tumors
  • Soft tissue sarcomas
  • Nasal tumors
  • Oral tumors
  • Mammary Tumors
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Lung tumors
  • Abdominal tumors
  • Tumors of the skin and subcutaneous tissues

Diagnostic Services

  • Fine Needle Aspirates with Cytology
  • Biopsies with Histopathology
  • Immunocytochemistry
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Bone Marrow Aspirates/Biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided Aspirates/Biopsies
  • Flow cytometry
  • PARR
  • Diagnostic Imaging
    • Digital Radiography
    • Ultrasound
    • On-site MRI
    • On-site CT Scan

Therapeutic Services

  • Individualized chemotherapy protocols
  • Pharmacokinetic-based dosing of chemotherapy
  • Immunological and biological treatments
    • Palladia
    • Merial Melanoma Vaccine
  • Consults for appropriateness of surgery and/or radiation
  • Nutritional support
  • Pain management
  • Palliative care
  • 24-hour emergency care
Need a referral to Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital?

Why Choose Us for Veterinary Oncology?

Boundary Bay offers specialty veterinary oncology services; serving dog and cat owners throughout Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Burnaby, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Chilliwack, the Interior and the Island as well as Bellingham, WA and northern Washington state. We invite you to consider the following reasons to entrust your pet to Boundary Bay’s oncology specialists.
Information dispels fear

We aim to educate you on the cancer treatment process with the goal of bringing you hope and peace of mind.

Customized chemotherapy

Tailored for your pet, an optimal, customized chemo treatment plan is created by a Board-certified Oncologist.

Surrounded by love

We provide specialized care for your pet and emotional support for your family in a calm, warm and positive setting.

Board-certified Oncologists

Our Board-certified Oncologists are specially trained in cancer fighting techniques such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy.

Focused on beating cancer

We have many tools in our arsenal to fight cancer and get more good days.

More good days

We're not just focused on more days, we're focused on more good days.

5 days per week

Oncology appointments are available 5 days per week in Surrey and on Thursdays in Bellingham, WA.

Download our Oncology flyer

Meet Our Board Certified Oncologists

Dr. Sarah Charney


Board-certified Oncologist

Dr. Kirsten Elliot

DVM, MVSc, DACVIM (Oncology)

Board-certified Oncologist

Dr. Chamisa Herrera


Board-certified Oncologist

Ask Us a Question

We’ll do everything in our power to help you make an informed decision!