NYMC Faculty Publications


Retrospective Analysis of Nonradiation Complications in Dogs Undergoing Radiation Therapy

Document Type


Publication Date



Epidemiology and Community Health


Dogs receiving radiation can develop complications unrelated to the radiation treatment. No study to date has described these complications in clinical patients undergoing multiple radiation therapy treatments. The purpose of this retrospective case-control study was to characterize the incidence and type of complications that occur in these dogs. A secondary goal was to evaluate whether patient and treatment characteristics could be identified to predict the risk of these complications. Medical records of 268 dogs receiving at least one radiation treatment at a single institution, between September, 2004 and June, 2007 were reviewed. Age, breed, gender, body weight, tumor type, tumor location, number of treatments, pre-treatment blood work abnormalities, and whether chemotherapy, glucocorticoids, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were given were collected. Number, type, and severity of nonradiation complications were recorded. Complications attributed to the tumor or to the radiation were excluded. Statistical analyses were performed to determine whether demographic and clinical characteristics were associated with development of a complication. General anesthesia was used for all treatments. Complications occurred in 101 (37%) cases including diarrhea, vomiting, cough, and loss of appetite, which were typically mild. Seventeen dogs (6%) developed severe complications. Eight dogs (3%) died from their complication. Dogs that developed complications were younger, received more treatments, had leukocytosis, received glucocorticoids, and were less likely to have thrombocytopenia. On multivariate analysis, number of treatments and leukocytosis were significantly associated with complications. Findings indicate that nonradiation complications are common in dogs receiving radiotherapy under general anesthesia. In this population, complications were usually mild or self-limiting.