Exploring Alternative Methods for Dog Cancer

Exploring Alternative Methods for Dog Cancer

The first item on a holistic veterinarian’s checklist to consider when reviewing a cancer case from an alternative perspective (after examining the traditional choices) is diet. The purpose of nutrition is to establish an environment in which cancer cells are effectively starved while the immune system is strengthened. The next step is usually to look into the herbs and/or vitamins that might be beneficial to your dog.

Nutrition is Crucial

Finding the proper nutritional balance may be challenging at first because each dog’s body is different and thus has different requirements, but it is critical in the fighting and recovery process. If their prognosis isn’t looking good, a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients could buy them some time.

Cancer cells have a sweet tooth and a strong desire for sugar.  Because carbohydrates are metabolized as sugar units, carbohydrate intake should be restricted. The normal cancer diet for dogs is high in protein, moderate to high in fat, and low in carbohydrates.

There are certain fats that have proven to be helpful in the fight against cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in fish oils, have been shown to significantly decrease inflammation in the body and increase survival time. Omega-6 fatty acid diets should be reduced or avoided because they have been linked to an increase in cancer levels in the body.

Foods naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids (the good fatty acids) are:

dog cancer diet
Oily Fishes
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel
  • Deer
  • Pheasant
  • Phytoplankton
  • Flaxseed 
  • CBD oil

Nutrition has proven to be a critical tool when it comes to fighting cancer. Nutrition has the ability to prevent metastasis (spread) and can be used in conjunction with other cancer treatments. Not only does the appropriate diet starve cancer, but it also boosts a dog’s immune system, improves how they respond to chemotherapy, and lessens the side effects of both chemo and radiation.

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM or TCM)

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine, or TCM, has the ultimate goal of treating cancer while maintaining the quality of life. Acupuncture, for example, is part of TCM and has been shown to:

  • Increase overall well-being
  • Increase appetite
  • Suppress nausea
  • Reduce pain levels

Herbal therapies also increase cancer-fighting effects. 

According to the NIH Consensus Conference, acupuncture is defined as “a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on the skin by a variety of techniques.” The most studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points uses penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.”

Research also states “currently, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) serves as the most prevalent theoretical framework guiding the clinical practice of acupuncture in the U.S., in which clinical decisions are mainly based upon the unique clinical patterns that conform to TCM theory.”

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Since there is currently little research on the topic, some veterinarians support hyperbaric oxygen therapy while others oppose it. Although the benefits have not been scientifically established or published in scientific literature, there have been no complaints or unfavorable comments on the subject. Many veterinarians agree that hyperbaric oxygen treatment can mitigate the adverse effects of radiation therapy. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been found to significantly enhance the healing process associated with radiation treatments.

Essentially, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the use of 100% oxygen at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure. The patient breathes this oxygen while the pressure is greater than the scientific value of 1 atmosphere absolute (ATA). According to the Handbook of Hyperbaric Medicine, “radiation-induced wounds are chronic, non-healing, and show poor skin graft take.” HBOT has been a very successful adjunct in the management of late complications of radiotherapy.”

Supplementing with Magnesium

Low magnesium levels may increase the likelihood of cisplatin-induced adverse effects in dogs undergoing chemotherapy. Magnesium is required for the normal functioning of practically all physiological systems.

A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine found magnesium deficiency is prevalent among dogs receiving the common chemo drug, cisplatin.

Cisplatin is most commonly utilized for osteosarcoma. Like most chemotherapy treatments, toxicity can pose a problem, particularly with regard to the kidneys (part of the body’s toxin filtration system). 

Unfortunately, due to the low accuracy of magnesium blood testing, determining whether or not a dog is magnesium deficient is challenging. The blood contains just about half of the magnesium in the body. Low blood magnesium levels aren’t always indicative of low magnesium levels in the body. The bones and tissue contain more than half of the magnesium in the body.

If cisplatin is in your dog’s regimen, it’s important to discuss the possibility of magnesium deficiency with your holistic veterinarian

Cannabis/Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

Cannabis and CBD oil continue to be viewed with skepticism by the general public. However, it’s worth noting that full-spectrum CBD has been demonstrated to improve chemotherapy efficacy.

To the surprise of many, one of the primary uses of hemp extract is to treat cancer and tumors. Research conducted by A.B. Hancock Jr. Memorial Laboratory for Cancer Research, Departments of Biochemistry, Chemistry, and Pharmacology, Vanderbilt Institute of Chemical Biology, Center in Molecular Toxicology, Vanderbilt Ingram Comprehensive Cancer Center concluded that “The antiproliferative and apoptotic effects produced by some of these pharmacological probes [CBD] reveal that the endocannabinoid system is a promising new target for the development of novel chemotherapeutics to treat cancer.”

Another study published in 2018 found that full-spectrum CBD  inhibits the growth of cancerous cells in mice with pancreatic and bladder cancer. In mice treated with full-spectrum CBD, not only did CBD suppress malignant cell growth, but it also prevented future cancerous growth. Full-spectrum CBD could be a realistic supplement for cancer treatment in both humans and animals.

Dosing CBD

Contrary to popular belief, the dosage has little to do with your dog’s size or weight. The proper dosage for your dog is determined by their unique condition, as well as how sensitive their endocannabinoid system is. For the fastest and most thorough absorption, lift the lip and place the dose directly on the gums.

The medicine may not be as effective if added to food, and it may take much longer (30-45 minutes) to enter the bloodstream as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract.

For optimum absorption and to retain it in the bloodstream, divide the amount of mg into small doses throughout the day (micro-dosing). The drug has a peak effect after 2 hours and lasts for 4–6 hours. Before each usage, give the bottle a good shake and keep it away from heat.

Unlike many traditional oral medications, research has proven that full-spectrum CBD  is effectively and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. A study conducted by the Department of Pharmacy, School of Pharmacy at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel concluded that:

“full spectrum CBD  was observed to have a large volume of distribution [in dogs studied].”

In a study conducted by the Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy,

dogs were found to have a substantial amount of receptors in their endocannabinoid system, specifically in the spine, which allows dogs to more effectively use full-spectrum CBD

Your pet cannot overdose from full-spectrum CBD. If the dose is too high, they may become sleepy or experience diarrhea.

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

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