Once you get over the shock of your dog’s cancer diagnosis, the most important decision you’ll make is how to treat him.
The fear of cancer often sends even the most holistically minded dog owners rushing for conventional options like chemo, radiation or surgery, despite their often severe side effects. But you might opt for completely holistic treatment … or a combination of both.
The type of cancer will be a factor in your decision, and it’s important to research all the options and talk to holistic and conventional cancer experts before you make a choice. In this post you’ll find some information about natural cancer treatment for dogs.
Conventional Cancer Treatment For Dogs
Conventional veterinarians will usually offer alternatives like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and sometimes immunotherapy … although immunotherapy options are more advanced for humans than for veterinary use.
There’s more detail about conventional treatment options in our Cancer In Dogs article.
And if you’re considering conventional treatment, it’s worth reading veterinarian Dr Ian Billinghurst’s opinion plus important questions to ask your veterinarian before deciding on these treatments.
Some integrative veterinarians may offer a combination of conventional and natural therapies. Or you can opt for conventional treatment but add some natural remedies to support your dog through the process.
Natural Cancer Treatment For Dogs
Whatever type of natural treatment you choose, make sure you find a practitioner with cancer experience. Look for a really skilled homeopath, TCVM vet, herbalist (Western or Chinese), or other holistic vet who’s treated a lot of cancer patients.
You may want to ask others for recommendations. Ask anyone who’s involved with dog care – breeders, trainers, veterinary rehab experts, animal chiropractors. Join online dog cancer forums to find other dog owners who’ve had experience in your dog’s type of cancer.
To help you decide, read about the preferred cancer treatment options of several holistic vets …
Supplements For Cancer In Dogs
Here are some of the supplements with the most potent anti-cancer effects.
There are two substances in medicinal mushrooms that produce their well-known anti-cancer effects. Polysaccharide-K (PSK) and polysaccharide-P (PSP). PSK and PSP are called beta-D-glucans. They promote a healthy immune response by activating immune cells called macrophages, NK (natural killer) cells and T cells. Macrophages destroy invaders like bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. NK and T cells can also eliminate cancer cells.
These mushroom components are so effective that PSP is approved as an anti-cancer drug in Japan and China, and PSK is a key ingredient in a Japanese anti-cancer drug called Krestin.
As well as triggering immune cell activity, beta-glucans have other immune-boosting effects, including …
- Reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine
- Strengthening immune response to several cancers
- Blocking metastasis (the spread of cancer cells)
Some of the most effective medicinal mushrooms include:
- Turkey tail
Turkey tail mushrooms deserve a special mention. They’ve been especially well researched for their anti-cancer effects …. including in dogs.
One 2012 study at University of Pennsylvania treated dogs with hemangiosarcoma with different dose levels of I’M-Yunity … an extract of PSP from turkey tail mushrooms. Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive, fast-spreading vascular cancer … and PSP delivered some remarkable results. Here are the survival times for dogs in the study …
- No treatment: 86 days
- 50mg-kg/day turkey tail: 117 days
- 100mg-kg/day turkey tail: 199 days
Compare these results with the median survival time for dogs getting doxorubicin chemotherapy, which is 141 to 179 days.
Look for a blend of medicinal mushrooms that has 5-7 different medicinal mushrooms, including turkey tail. And you can give extra turkey tail as well to take advantage of its potent anti-cancer properties.
Caution: Make sure you buy mushrooms made from whole fruiting bodies, so that you give your dog the full medicinal benefits. Many mushrooms supplements are made from mycelium, which is only part of the mushroom. Mycelium is grown on grain and studies show it has lower levels of beta-glucans and more starch than whole mushrooms.
Turmeric, and its main compound, curcumin, have been researched in more than 6,000 studies that show its health benefits.
Research shows turmeric can be more effective than many drugs, including …
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Arthritis drugs
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
One UK study showed curcumin could prevent precancerous changes from developing into cancer. And turmeric can also treat cancer naturally.
The American Cancer Society claims, “Curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread. Recently, curcumin has received a great deal of focus because of its ability to reduce tumor size and kill cancer cells.“
CBD has been extensively researched for its cancer-fighting benefits. Studies show that CBD can slow the growth of cancer cells and tumors, and in many cancers it has increased survival times.
CBD can kill cancer cells by stopping them from producing energy. It’s also been found to stimulate the immune system to cause cancer cell death.
CBD may also be helpful alongside conventional cancer treatments. One study found CBD made cancer cells more sensitive to other treatment. And CBD can help reduce nausea from conventional treatments.
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found that omega-3 fatty acids can help protect your dog from inflammatory diseases … and some cancers.
In particular, the researchers looked at whether inflammatory conditions in dogs increase the risk of T-zone lymphoma (TZL), which makes up about 12% of all canine lymphomas. Golden Retrievers are especially susceptible, with 40% of TZL cases in the breed. The researchers found that omega-3 supplements may reduce the likelihood of TZL.
The researchers also found that omega-3s can help lower inflammation as well as strengthen immune response in dogs.
Garlic has many health benefits for dogs, and one in particular is relevant to giving omega-3 to dogs with cancer.
Veterinarian Dr Steve Marsden says that giving dogs fresh garlic helps direct omega-3s into anti-inflammatory pathways. But you should avoid garlic if you’re using chemotherapy for your dog’s cancer, because garlic can interact with chemo drugs.
Otherwise, give your dog 1 tsp daily per 30 lbs of body weight (adjust for your dog’s size). Chop finely and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding to your dog’s food and serve immediately. This allows allicin, the main medicinal property in garlic, to develop.
Artemisinin is a compound extracted from the Artemesia annua L. plant, known as sweet wormwood. In Chinese medicine it was used to treat malaria, and now studies have found it can help treat cancer.
A University of Washington study found that Artemisinin destroys many types of cancer cells … but leaves healthy cells unharmed. Artemesinin has shown impressive results in treating a several cancers, including leukemia, breast, colon, prostate and brain cancer.
According to Dr Demian Dressler, co-author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, artemisinin is best given for a few days, with a break in between. That’s because the body stops absorbing it after 5 days, so an intermittent dosing schedule is more effective.
Dr Dressler also suggests giving artemisinin about 4 hours away from food, because of its tendency to interact with unbound ferrous iron (as found in red meat).
Speaking of Dr Dressler, who’s also well known as The Dog Cancer Vet … he developed a natural cancer supplement called Apocaps, which he and many holistic vets have used successfully in cancer treatments, with or without conventional therapies. In fact, Apocaps is being studied for possible use in human cancer treatments.
Apocaps includes the ingredients luteolin (a citrus bioflavonoid), curcumin (described above) and apigenin (extracted from parsley). It works by helping the process of apoptosis (meaning cancer cell death), and you can read more about the supplement on the Apocaps website.
Ozone is O3, containing 3 oxygen atoms (the air we breathe is O2). The extra oxygen atom in O3 is less stable, so it’s more likely to react inside the body. Medical grade ozone is produced by passing pure oxygen through a generator that uses an electrical spark to split an oxygen atom off the O2 molecules.This free oxygen atom combines with other O2 molecules and produces O3 used for treatments.
People have been using ozone treatments for more than 100 years to treat a long list of health issues. But ozone has recently become popular as an anti-inflammatory therapy in animals. It’s also anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal, so it can help with many types of infectious disease.
For cancer, In vitro studies show ozone helps inhibit cancer cells from various types of cancer in humans, by as much as 40 to 90%. It’s safe and helps create healthier cells in the body.
Sulforaphane is a substance found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower. Cruciferous veggies are rich in glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that when chewed or digested, convert to isothiocyanates. The most potent isothiocyanate is sulforaphane,
Sulforaphane’s cancer-fighting benefits have been widely studied. Research shows that people who eat cruciferous veggies have reduced cancer risk, In animal research, sulforaphane has been shown to …
- Help prevent cell damage
- Cause apoptosis (cancer cell death)
- Stops tumor blood vessels from forming
- Inhibits metastasis (spread)
- Inactivate carcinogens
Researchers from Oregon State University gave dogs broccoli sprout powder, which is the richest food source of sulforaphane. They found that sulforaphane had the same digestibility in dogs as humans … and that they also saw a better reduction in HDAC activity. HDAC is a group of enzymes that protects DNA by expressing tumor-suppressing genes.
Mistletoe injections have proven effective in reducing tumor size and pain.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows directly from the branches of the trees that host it. Mistletoe can become so prolific that it kills its host, but it often grows with the host, as it cannot survive without it.
This plant has has some remarkable abilities. Here are some mistletoe benefits:
- Prevents tumor metastasis
- Helps apoptosis (cancer cell death)
- Improves mitochondrial health
- Reduces tumor blood supply
- Stabilizes health DNA
- Stimulates the immune system
- Increases interleukin 2 (an immune-boosting protein made by white blood cells)
- Reduces side effects of chemotherapy and radiation
- Reduction of tumor-related pain
Mistletoe is most often given via injections under the skin and can be done at home. It’s typically done 3 times per week at increasing doses, until there’s the patient shows skin inflammation at the injection site … or a slight fever. This is a sign that the mistletoe has activated the immune system. A slight fever enhances the body’s ability to eliminate cancer. Practitioners using mistletoe will carefully monitor your dog’s response and adjust the dosing accordingly.
Follow the links below for more posts about natural cancer treatments.