Immunotherapy FAQs

Are some of the dogs cured?

After receiving immunotherapy, one dog lived disease-free for 30 months until developing metastasis and was euthanized. This example highlights the reason why clinicians are often very hesitant to claim that any cancer patient is “cured”.

For some dogs, it is an ongoing battle between their immune system and the cancer cells.

What kind of side effects did the dogs experience?

To date, all side-effects have been minor and were relieved with the help of anti-nausea medication, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), and antihistamines.

Following the vaccination, some dogs experience inappetence, lethargy, and vomiting but the symptoms typically subside in 1-2 days. After adoptive T-cell infusion, some dogs experience fever, diarrhea, lethargy, and inappetence.

Ongoing and larger clinical trials will help determine how different dogs will respond.

Is the therapy available for dogs today?

Yes, ECI is available for dogs with osteosarcoma thanks to USDA’s 9 CFR 103.3 experimental product regulations.

What are the requirements for the dog to receive this immunotherapy?

  • The dog needs to have a diagnosis of osteosarcoma.

  • It is not recommended for dogs with metastasis.

  • The dog should not be on any immunosuppressive drugs, like steroids.

  • Other than cancer, the dog should be in good health.

  • Able to travel to the clinic to receive all the vaccination, apheresis, infusion, and injections.

A thorough screening is required to determine eligibility, which includes a physical exam, blood work, and advanced imaging.

Can a dog receive this treatment without surgery?

Today, the protocol is designed to include amputation so that the patient has as minimal residual disease as possible, which gives the immune system the best opportunity for success.

Can a dog with cancer other than osteosarcoma receive the treatment?

Not today. ELIAS is planning to evaluate this therapy in other cancers, and pilot studies for other cancer types may start later in 2020.

How can I find out which clinics are offering the treatment today?

In addition to Veterinary Specialty Center, ELIAS’s website lists locations and participating veterinarians. If there is not a clinic near you that performs cancer immunotherapy, we recommend contacting ELIAS directly to discuss your options.

How much does this treatment cost?

The treatment costs slightly more than chemotherapy and is dependent on patient size and overall health. Veterinary Specialty Center will provide Patient Care Plans (estimates) of available treatments and options so that you can make the best decision for you and your pet.

Does pet health insurance cover this treatment?

Because it is still an experimental therapy, it is not covered by most veterinary pet insurance plans, but we are hopeful it will be included in the future. We recommend contacting your pet insurance provider to discuss coverage.


For additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at (847) 459-7535 or email us at


Starting Monday, April 8th through the end of September, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin their road resurfacing project along Waukegan Road from Lake Cook Road to Half Day Road (IL 22). Please allow additional travel time to our hospital during the construction. Learn More: Waukegan Road Resurfacing Project