VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center


Immunity is a term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease or other unwanted biological invasion such as cancer. This defense is principally made up white blood cells and small protein cell-signaling molecules called cytokines. Thus the treatment of cancer or other disease by inducing, enhancing or suppressing an immune response is called immunotherapy. This broad term includes the use of immunomodulators which are naturally derived and synthetic preparations such as vaccines and medications that can be used for the treatment of cancer.

Most immunotherapies are designed to stimulate the immune system. However the alternate approach, suppressing the immune system can also be used. An example of when immune suppression might be indicated is when trying to overcome the body's immune tolerance of cancer. A condition where tumor cells inhibit the natural immune system defenses in order to survive.

Although extensive research in this complex area of cancer treatment is being conducted, many studies are still ongoing and only few agents have proven to be safe and beneficial. Recently great attention has been placed on vaccines which are defined as a biologic preparation that contains a weakened agent of the disease (bacteria, virus, tumor cell) or constituent of it (DNA, RNA, protein) given to improve immunity. An example of such therapy for the treatment of cancer in animals is the DNA based canine melanoma vaccine used to mitigate the high risk of tumor metastasis.

One well known immunomodulator in human oncology is Rituximab an antibody therapy used in the treatment of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Although animals develop cancers similar to humans they are not identical. Therefore, agents such as Rituximab are not beneficial across species.

Whenever possible adjunctive therapies such as vaccines or immunotherapy will be used as adjunctive therapy. Your veterinary oncologist will discuss with you if immunotherapy may be a benefit for your pet.



General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care


24/7/365, if your pet has a medical emergency, you can find us at the following address:

TEL: 703-752-9100

Click here for directions to our location.

VCA SouthPaws Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Center is a fully-equipped 24/7/365 emergency hospital serving pets and their people in Northern Virginia and the greater Washington DC metro area. If you suspect your pet is having a medical crisis, our experienced team of veterinarians, technicians and assistants are here to assist you.

Our Emergency and Critical Care units can assist in all of the following situations requiring immediate medical attention: Auto accidents, traumatic injuries (fractures, bites, burns, lacerations, wounds), respiratory emergencies (choking, difficulty breathing), vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty urinating/defecating, shock, loss of consciousness, dizziness, staggering, tremors, seizures, paralysis, toxic reactions, poison ingestion, labor and delivery problems, blood in urine or feces, swollen, hard, painful abdomen, heatstroke.