Of all pet diseases, cancer is the most feared. While modern science has been able to cure some variations—most commonly by surgical removal of small tumors—many cancers have usually advanced and spread by the time they are diagnosed. Most pets in advanced stages cannot be cured, but can be successfully treated, thus prolonging their life.
Through choosing an integrative approach that combines natural therapies with conventional techniques, most cancer patients in my practice live one-and-a-half to two times longer than if the owners relied solely on conventional methods. Targeted natural therapies can not only make the conventional more effective, they work to reduce side effects and allow pets to feel much better.
Cancer develops from damage to a cell’s DNA. Causes can include radiation and chemotherapy (the same techniques commonly used as treatments), viruses, toxins, stress, inherited defective genes and aging. Cells with damaged DNA either die (as they should) or continue to grow and multiply; cancer is a disease of the unregulated spreading of abnormal cell growth.
Conventional therapies for pets include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. When feasible, these therapies quickly kill as many cancer cells as possible, putting the pet into remission. Deciding on the preferred treatment depends on such factors as the type of cancer, age of the pet, ease of administration of the treatment, cost and owner concerns.
When considering such a step, pet owners should have a serious discussion with their veterinary oncologist about the pros and cons of each option, including potential benefits for the pet. In general, pets experience fewer side effects from conventional cancer therapies than their human counterparts.
Numerous natural therapies can be integrated into a holistic treatment protocol to help pet cancer patients or used as the sole therapy. Pivotal basics outlined in this article are included in a more thorough explanation of options in The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs.
Diet is vital. Most pet foods, especially dry foods, contain excess grain carbohydrates and inadequate amounts of protein and fat. Most cancer patients do better when grain-based carbohydrates are reduced and protein and fat, specifically fatty acids such as fish oil, are increased. Fish oil is highly beneficial in killing cancer cells and inhibiting their spreading, along with relieving inflammation that can cause further cancer cell growth.
Simply following the label’s dose for fish oil is not adequate, as this dose is designed to maintain normal-looking skin and hair, but not work medically to reduce inflammation and cell damage. The correct dosage varies with the weight of the pet, but in general, pets with cancer benefit from 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of EPA+DHA twice daily, based on the veterinarian’s recommendation.
Antioxidants are also crucial in reducing oxidation that causes cell damage and creates cancer. Good supplements contain several different antioxidants, including vitamins and minerals, quercetin and other bioflavonoids, and Coenzyme Q-10. Adding antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits to the pet’s regular diet is similarly helpful. Good choices include dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts and brightly colored vegetables such as carrots and peppers.
Similarly, supplements to boost the immune system can help a patient stay cancer-free as long as possible. Supplements such as green tea, medicinal mushrooms such as maitake or coriolus, vitamin D, astragalus and arabinogalactans are particularly helpful.
Detoxifying herbs such as milk thistle and homeopathic detoxifying remedies such as berberis, nux vomica and lymphomyosot are also useful.
Because cancer is a toxic disease, when conventional therapies add further toxins (such as chemotherapy and radiation) to the equation, the body can become easily overwhelmed. Therefore, an aggressive detoxification protocol is helpful, as well.
These elements comprise a general protocol that is beneficial for most, if not all, pets diagnosed with cancer. Individualized therapy and choosing supplements specific to the type of cancer afflicting the pet are important. Every cancer is different, so every treatment will be different.
Cancer Prevention Tips
Pet parents can take several steps to reduce the risk of a pet contracting cancer. Feed them the best diet possible, devoid of chemical additives and byproducts. Reduce vaccinations as much as possible, which can damage a pet’s immune system. Also, avoid unnecessary prescription medications, including chemical flea and tick control products, which can also negatively affect functioning of the immune system. In combination, these measures work to reduce the toxic load to a pet’s body and support optimal health.
Dr. Shawn Messonnier has authored numerous books, including The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs and Breast Choices for the Best Chances. For more information on health care for people and pets, visit PetCareNaturally.com and DrShawnsNaturals.com.