Cancer Center - Specialty Vet Services


Chemotherapy is routinely recommended by Dr. Ratterree to treat underlying cancer diagnosed in your pet. A diagnosis of cancer in your pet can be stressful for owners, and the prospect of undertaking chemotherapy treatments can be equally difficult because of the human experience with cancer treatments. However, the fear that animals will spend most of their last days sick from chemotherapy treatments is unwarranted. Knowing how anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs work allows our team in Cooper City to formulate a treatment protocol for your pet while focusing on a good quality of life.

Chemotherapy may be used as the sole treatment for certain cancers or may be used in combination with other treatment modalities, such as surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is likely to be recommended for cancer that has already spread to other areas of the body, for tumors that occur at more than one site, or for tumors that cannot be removed surgically. In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to shrink large tumors prior to surgery or help eradicate certain types of microscopic cancer cells that cannot or have not been completely removed surgically. For cancers that are at high-risk for metastasis early in the course of disease, chemotherapy can be used after surgery or radiation therapy to help slow down the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body.

Chemotherapy can be administered by many methods although the two most common in our veterinary patients are intravenously or by mouth. Our goal in treating your pet is to reduce or eliminate any side effects related to chemotherapy. Although negative impacts in quality of life are uncommon, the most common side effects are mild gastrointestinal upset, short episodes of tiredness, or decreases in the white blood cell counts. The majority of side effects experienced by your pet can be treated with oral medications at home. Chemotherapy is administered on an outpatient basis and pets rarely need to be hospitalized for side effects or individual treatments.

The most common canine and feline tumors treated with chemotherapy, targets therapies, or immunotherapy are lymphoma, osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, bladder tumors, mast cell tumors, mammary gland tumors, anal sac tumors, melanoma, thyroid tumors, and various gastrointestinal tumors. The treatment intervals of chemotherapy, financial commitments, and overall prognosis will vary depending on the underlying diagnosis. The veterinary oncologist will work with you to formulate a specific treatment protocol for your pet to maintain a strong human animal bond.

Radiation Therapy

This treatment is typically not first thought about when it comes to treating our pets for an underlying tumor. However, new studies have discovered that using radiation therapy can actually make a big difference in overall survival and quality of life. Typically, radiation therapy is used in dogs and cats in conjunction with chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapies, and/or post-surgery. Depending on the type of cancer and if it is localized to a certain area, our veterinary radiation oncologist may recommend the use of radiation therapy alone. Radiation therapy can even be used to ease the pain of certain cancers in pets such as bone tumors. This form of therapy is called palliative radiation therapy and can be administered (2-6 doses) with minimal to no side effects.

In veterinary medicine, radiation therapy is most commonly delivered with a sophisticated machine called a linear accelerator. This machine delivers ionizing radiation to the malignant cells to inhibit their growth. Both normal and cancer cells are affected, but the radiation treatment is designed to maximize tumor effect and minimize normal cell effect. Radiation therapy is given in a series of treatments administered on consecutive weekdays. This schedule helps protect normal, healthy tissue by spreading out the radiation over a period of time. On the first day of radiation therapy, Dr. Ratterree and his team work together to ensure that your pet’s treatment is delivered precisely as planned. Typically, treatments are done on weekdays (unless an emergency), patients go home the same day, and treatment time takes 15-30 minutes.

Radiation therapy can have side effects on animals just as it does human patients. The side effects of radiation usually appear halfway through the prescribed dose and can last from 1-3 weeks. There are many topical and oral medications that can be prescribed to help minimize or eliminate any impact treatments have on your pet’s quality of life. Hair loss at the irradiated site is the most common side effect.


The LeadER Cancer Center in Cooper City also offers a localized form of radiation call plesiotherapy (plesio - Greek for close or near).  A Strontium 90 applicator is a sealed source emitter that entails placement of a sealed radiation source in contact with the skin surface. The highest dose of radiation is deposited at the skin surface and the dose drops off rapidly with increased tissue depth.  A single large bolus dose of radiation may be administered by direct application to a superficially located tumor with minimal risk to healthy tissue. Strontium 90 irradiation has been used successfully to treat small superficial lesions in dogs and cats.  By having multiple forms of radiation therapy, our veterinary specialists are able to deliver the treatment that is perfect for your pet.

Your veterinary radiation oncologist will evaluate your pets overall health, review in specific detail the cancer diagnosis, discuss treatment options (including other treatment modalities, likely side effects, likely outcomes, and anticipated expense), and help you choose the treatment(s) that will best serve your pet and yourself.

If you elect to treat with radiation, various staging procedures (ranging from a physical examination to a CT scan with CT fusion) will be performed to identify the extent of the tumor and direct the radiation therapy.

LeadER Animal Specialty Hospital in Cooper City has offered radiation therapy since 1994—over a decade longer than any other practice in the Fort Lauderdale area. .

Feline Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is the abnormal secretion of excess thyroid hormone. This is usually due to a growth of the thyroid glands that is not cancerous. The cat thyroid disease is not related to the common causes of hyperthyroidism in people. Rather, it is a syndrome in which some of the thyroid cells are no longer controlled by the normal feedback mechanisms that the body uses to regulate normal metabolic function. These abnormal thyroid gland cells secrete too much thyroid hormone. Radioiodine therapy is used to kill these cells and allow the normal cells to return to normal function. This occurs in a very high percentage of cases. Fortunately, thyroid cancer is very rarely the cause of feline hyperthyroidism.