Being told that your dog has cancer can be heart-wrenching and is a terrifying possibility for all dog owners. Unfortunately, cancer in dogs is not uncommon, especially among old dogs as it accounts for fifty percent of canine deaths in those over ten years old. But in reality, cancer can strike a dog at any age. If you have found yourself in the position of caring for a dog with cancer, you may find it difficult to see your furry friend go through treatment and wonder if there is another alternative. There is a lot of information on the internet and it can be difficult to understand what the legitimate options are, but we'll break it down so you can work with your veterinarian to understand the best course of treatment for your pet.
Before we look at holistic treatments for dogs with cancer, we should understand what cancer is and how it is traditionally treated. At its simplest definition, cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy tissue within the body. There are many types of cancer but some of the most common in dogs are bone cancer, osteosarcoma-dogs , skin cancer, lymphoma, mouth and throat cancer, hemangiosarcoma, (a cancer arising in the blood vessels), and breast cancer.
Cancer in dogs is more treatable when caught early.
So, pet owners should keep an eye out for the following signs that may indicate your dog is suffering from some form of dog cancer:
Difficulty urinating and/or defecating Swelling
Unexplained, sudden lameness or limping
Black, tarry Stool
Sores that don't seem to heal
Sudden weight loss
Abnormal discharge (from anywhere on the body)
Loss of energy or sudden lethargy
The conventional approach to treatment will vary depending on the type and severity of the cancer. However, the most common methods are surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, or any combination of these of four. While these methods can be extremely effective in treating types of cancer, for example, dog skin cancer they have adverse side effects and can make your dog feel worse before he feels better. If you so choose, you can speak to your vet about holistic treatments for dogs and how they could be utilized in your dog's treatment plan.
In order to advocate for holistic treatment of your dog's cancer, it is crucial to understand the different methods available. If you are not informed, you will be unable to articulate to your vet, or veterinary oncologist, what you believe is best for your dog. Below is a list of some holistic treatments for dogs with cancer. Please discuss all treatment operations with Dr. Pasternak.
Chinese Veterinary Medicine This holistic treatment can be used on its own or in conjunction with a western medical treatment plan. Though only recently introduced in practice to the United States, the Chinese use of herbs and acupuncture has been used to care for animals for thousands of years in other parts of the world and is grounded in Chinese Daoist philosophy.
Diet Some in the holistic veterinary research field are concerned with the amount of sugar and carbohydrates in commercial dog foods. These researchers believe sugar speeds the growth of cancer cells. The Maya Clinic disputes sugar impact on cancer growth, however Dr. Pasternak on the other hand feels that a high protein, high fat diet, low carbohydrates (Ketogenic Diet), would be highly beneficial for cancer patients.
Mushrooms A recent study from the University of Pennsylvania evaluated the healing properties of the Coriolus Versicolor mushroom which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. The researchers found that dogs who treated their cancer with this mushroom had "the longest survival times ever reported for dogs with the disease.
Clinical Trials Veterinary researchers are always working to identify new and more effective cancer treatments that will help prolong the life of dogs and, in most instances, participation in a clinical trial has no cost to pet owners. You can search for clinical trials for your dog's specific cancer and for those trials focusing on holistic treatments specifically.
Hemp based products CBD and other hemp-based products have been found to have an anti-tumor effect. CBD can help to strengthen the immune system and kill tumor cells. Hemp based products can also help dogs ease the symptoms associated with cancer.
Neoplasene treatments Effective for variety of canine and feline cancers.
Ozone treatments has been found to be an extremely safe medical therapy for pets.