Immunizations and Boarding for Pets with Cancer

Last Modified: February 28, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Can a pet receiving chemotherapy for lymphosarcoma receive regular immunizations? Can they be boarded?


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

In general, cats and dogs receiving chemotherapy for lymphoma or any other cancers should have their routine vaccinations deferred until they have completed their course of chemotherapy and recovered from the associated side effects, such as low white blood cell counts, nausea, and malaise. For pets that are due for rabies vaccinations that are required by law in their state, owners can request their veterinarian write a letter explaining why such a vaccination is medically contraindicated at the present time, along with a copy of records indicating that the pet had previously been current on vaccinations.

Pets that are receiving chemotherapy can be boarded. It is recommended that the boarding facility be provided contact information for the treating veterinarian in case of any symptoms or illnesses that develop while the pet is boarding that might require medical assistance. Similarly, the boarding facility should be informed that the pet is immunocompromised and that appropriate hygiene recommendations be followed, such as thorough hand washing before the pet is handled. Owners should discuss the upcoming boarding of their pet with the treating veterinarian, who may wish to modify the treatment schedule according to the boarding schedule.