Cancer jab saves Scottie dog Flora from tumour

Flora with owner Anne McMurchie, right, and vet Mandy Clarkson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Flora with owner Anne McMurchie, right, and vet Mandy Clarkson. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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A VETERINARY surgery has become the first in Scotland to offer pets a pioneering new cancer treatment in the form of a vaccination.

Dogs and cats that have developed tumours and melanomas are now being given the chance to undergo Pet Bio Cell treatment as an alternative to chemotherapy at Riverside Vets in Livingston.

The treatment, which involves the affected pet receiving three vaccines within three months, costs around £2000, but expert vets have said it gives them a better quality of life in comparison with other medications.

Anne McMurchie, owner of Flora the Scottie, the first dog in Scotland to have received the treatment, said: “You would never be able to tell Flora is ill thanks to the treatment – it is much better than chemotherapy.”

Mandy Clarkson, managing director of Riverside Vets, decided to introduce the dentritic cell treatment after attending a five-day congress with the British Small Animal Veterinary Association in Birmingham where she met specialists from Pet Bio Cell, based in Germany.

Ms Clarkson said: “It’s exciting that we have been able to bring this treatment to our surgery.

“They having been using it in Germany for ten to 12 years and its proven to be very successful over there. It doesn’t give animals the side-effects that chemotherapy does – it gives them a better quality of life while they are being treated for a tumour.”

Along with surgery, the treatment can be used in a bid to cure the pet.

But if the dog or cat is too old for surgery, or suffers from another disease, it can be used to prolong its life by stopping the tumour’s spread.

Mrs McMurchie said: “Flora hasn’t suffered any side-effects. We were warned she may be a bit shivery afterwards but she’s been fine.

“She’s always been a little madam and she still is, you’d never guess there was anything wrong with her – it’s amazing.

“I had another little Westie, Jock, who underwent chemo and he was so poorly.”

She added that Flora’s pet insurance covers her injections – which is a form of treatment already available to humans who suffer from cancer.

In order to form the vaccine, a sample of the pet’s blood is taken and sent to Germany along with a small frozen sample of the tumour tissue.

The blood is then mixed with sodium citrate and sent back to the surgery, and the pet is injected within 24 hours of its arrival.

Mandy added: “The idea is that the pet is essentially being cured by its own immune system.”

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com