Human Pregnancy and Canine Chemotherapy Treatment

Lili Duda, VMD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"
Can chemotherapy given to a dog with lymphoma cause any problems to a human female owner who is pregnant? I have heard there could be toxins in the body fluids of the dog during treatment that can cause harm to a baby? This sounds crazy to me. Have you ever heard of such a thing?

Lili Duda, VMD, Editor of the OncoLink Veterinary Oncology Section, responds:

This is an excellent question, and is a legitimate concern. Every chemotherapy drug is metabolized and excreted differently, and therefore each poses a different risk. However, with simple basic precautions, the risk is minimal. As a rule of thumb, a pregnant woman should not directly handle oral chemotherapy medicine, vomitus, stools/diarrhea, or urine from an animal receiving chemotherapy. However, it is safe to live with, pet, cuddle and otherwise be around a dog receiving chemotherapy. If a pregnant person does accidentally come into contact with body fluids, simply wash the area thoroughly with soap and water.