“Your dog has cancer. I’m sorry.”
Six words you wished you’d never hear. Yet, here you are.
Pet owners dread getting a big C diagnosis from their vet. Cancer treatments like chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation may combat the illness, but harsh side effects leave cancer patients weak and ill. Despite damaging treatments, dog cancer is still fatal for many pets, with studies reporting it to be the leading cause of fatalities in dogs over ten years old.
Before you plan your furbaby’s eulogy, keep reading as we tell you about some holistic supplements that can help inhibit tumor growth in dogs. While we cannot protect our pets from all of life’s perils, we can make lifestyle changes to reduce their chance of a cancer diagnosis. Being prepared also equips you to take action should your vet detect a tumor.
Whether you’re on a cancer journey with your furry friend or preparing for possible troubles, we hope this article gives you some peace of mind on how to support your pet’s health.
Most Common Types of Cancer in Dogs
Dogs are susceptible to many of the same cancers as humans. Chronic inflammation is primarily the contributor to cancer formation in the canine body.
In 2008, the Animal Tumor Registry found that mammary cancer was the most frequently diagnosed cancer in female dogs, accounting for as many as 70% of all cancer diagnoses. Mammary tumors can vary in size, shape, and function, with some moving around glands or attaching to mammary gland tissues. Untreated malignant mammary tumors can spread to lymph nodes.
Also known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas, this cancer type develops in the white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the canine immune system. Canine Lymphoma can affect most organs in the body but commonly arises in bone marrow, the spleen, and lymph nodes. It can also develop in the skin (Cutaneous Lymphoma), or the stomach and intestines (Gastrointestinal Lymphoma), and even in the chest organs (Mediastinal Lymphoma).
Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in dogs. It’s an aggressive cancer that can quickly spread through the body. Unfortunately, bone cancer in dogs has a poor prognosis.
Treatment commonly includes chemotherapy to reduce the spreading of the disease. While you cannot cure this type of bone cancer, holistic remedies can reduce the growth of cancer cells and ease discomfort.
Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cell tumors in dogs account for approximately 20% of all skin tumors in canines. Lumps and skin thickening are common signs of this cancer in dogs. The immune system has cells called mast cells. These cells are responsible for inflammation and allergic reactions. When these cells become cancerous, then they are unpredictable in their behavior.
Mast cell cancer is most common in large or giant dog breeds.
This type of skin cancer in dogs affects the melanin-producing cells of the skin. It is common to see this type of cancer in the canine mouth or on mucous membranes.
Smelly breath is one of the main side effects. Malignant Melanomas proliferate and can sometimes go unrecognized when they grow under dark hair. Untreated or late diagnosis will often see this cancer spread to other organs like the liver or lungs.
Also known as Spleen or Liver Cancer, Hemangiosarcoma arises from endothelial cells. Endothelial cells line all blood vessels and regulate exchanges between the bloodstream and the surrounding tissues.
When cancer of this type forms, it creates a large mass in the location (spleen or liver) and spreads rapidly through the blood cells. Eventually, cancer can reach the brain, lungs, or heart.
Visit the Animal Cancer Foundation to read about other types of cancers in dogs.
What are the Signs of Cancer in Dogs
Cancer can hide beneath the surface, and it can be challenging to detect some cancers. Before we go on to list the most common signs of cancer in dogs, we want to emphasize the importance of taking your pet for wellness exams once or twice a year. As your pet gets older and their chances of developing cancer increase, more frequent veterinary visits are vital for early diagnosis.
In between appointments, keep an eye on your pet for these signs of cancer:
- Lumps underneath the skin
- Cancer cachexia – a term used when cancer patients are experiencing weight loss, but also muscle loss. Also termed as “wasting away.”
- Loss of appetite
- Weeping sores that don’t heal
- Bloody stool can signal colon cancer
- Bloody urine can be a symptom of prostate cancer or bladder cancer
- Coughing can be a symptom of lung cancer
- Nasal cancers may cause nose bleeds
- Bulging eyes
- Labored breathing
A lot of these symptoms can signal other, less severe diseases. Unless your dog is in the senior stage of its life, your veterinarian is unlikely to run tests for cancer. This unfortunately means that cancer can go unnoticed for months.
Holistic Supplements for Dogs with Cancer
Holistic treatment methods look at cancer as a symptom of an unhealthy and toxic body. This approach is different from the conventional treatment method that seeks to kill and poison cancer cells, even if it means harsh effects on the host.
Veterinarian Marty Goldstein said in an interview regarding holistic cancer treatments that “With holistic treatment, we work on the whole patient and the immune system. We’ve been very successful at regressing cancers by working on the patient this way.”
Here are some holistic supplements that effectively support the canine immune system and inhibit cancer cell growth.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Mushrooms have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The fungi are rich in antioxidants, antidiabetic, antitumor, anticancer, and immunomodulatory agents. The main cancer-fighting and bioactive agent of Turkey Tail Mushrooms are Polysaccharopeptides.
Turkey Tail Mushroom use has been supported in studies and can claim the following benefits:
- It improves the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells.
- Can suppress tumor growth.
- Can increase survival time in cancer patients.
- Turkey Tail is also rich in antioxidants, which fight free radicals and reduce the frequency or happening of cancers and other illnesses.
- Can reduce inflammation, thereby inhibiting “pro-tumorigenic factors associated with inflammation.”
When on the lookout for Turkey Tail supplements for your pet, make sure you buy a product that contains the full fungi fruiting body and not just the root (mycelium). Turkey Tail is an effective treatment option as it promotes overall wellness in the body and fights cancer cells.
Cannabidiol (CBD) from the hemp plant has many benefits that can support your dog. For the most part, the use of cannabis in canine cancer treatment has been to bring relief to dogs struggling with chemotherapy symptoms. CBD can help with occasional discomfort, fight free radical damage, and helps to keep pets calm and relaxed.
While the benefits for the recovery stage of treatment are effective in making your pet comfortable, CBD has a greater impact on the endocannabinoid system by modulating pathways involved in cancer growth. Cannabinoids like CBD and others can balance the function of the immune system and help the body have a normal inflammatory response.
Cannabinoids in the hemp plant, as well as the terpenes and flavonoids that can be found in full-spectrum CBD hemp oil, also have the unique ability to suppress the “proliferation, migration and invasion of cancer cells.“
CBD supplements for dogs are safe and easy to administer, with many brands offering oils, treats, chews, and other great edibles that will appeal to your pet. CBD can quickly become a part of your dog’s cancer treatment. Make sure you buy organic, full-spectrum hemp oil that has been lab-tested for purity.
Turmeric is just one of the many herbs that are believed to have cancer-fighting abilities. Allspice, basil, caraway, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, and more are all accredited to having antitumor ability due to their rich antioxidant profile. Turmeric is in the same Zingiberaceae family as garlic and has similar effects of reducing inflammation, an enabler for cancer growth.
Studies have shown the potential of turmeric as an
- Antimicrobial – kills microorganisms or stops their growth.
- Radioprotector – compounds that are designed to reduce the damage in normal tissues caused by radiation.
- Anticancer agent – effective in the treatment of malignant or cancerous disease.
Avoid using pure herb essential oils on your pet, as some of them can be toxic for animals.
Diet is the most vital tool in your arsenal against sickness and disease. When we feed our dogs nutritional foods, we not only provide an energy source for our pets, but we equip the body to be a cancer fighter.
- Vitamin D has been proven to have anticancer effects and can support treatment plans.
- Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant and cancer-fighting nutrient. You can offer your dog some raw broccoli, beans, or spinach to boost their vitamin A intake.
Many dog owners will opt for raw feeding if their dog is diagnosed with cancer. Raw foods that are organic and free of GMOs, pesticides, or filler ingredients can have potent health benefits that support gut health, strong immune function, and sufficient nutrient absorption.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Cancer in dogs can be significantly reduced or avoided with omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Omega fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore effective in cancer prevention. Findings by Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care are that “omega-3 fatty acids increase the response rate to chemotherapy.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oils from plants such as hemp. Flax seeds and fish oils also contain significant amounts and can be given to your pet for their omega oil needs.
Cancer progression in the body has been associated with oxidative stress, an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Foods that contain antioxidants will be beneficial in the treatment and prevention of cancer. These include mushrooms, dark leafy greens, carrots, and sweet potatoes.
Talking to Your Vet About Your Dog’s Cancer Treatment
If your dog has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important to discuss your desire for holistic treatments with your vet. Your veterinarian will be able to give you expert advice on any lifestyle changes that need to be made, weight loss plans, or other therapies that can help ease discomfort and inflammation while you and your dog fight cancer.
A holistic approach is not foolproof, and many times, veterinary medicine or surgery will still be necessary for dog cancer treatment. However, chemotherapy can expose your pet to harmful chemicals, and radiation can mean cell death for healthy cells, so many pet parents have opted to avoid these methods. Many vets will support your election to use modalities that fight cancer in a way that supports the body’s immune response and natural healing ability.
The Importance of Maintaining Your Dog’s Health
You cannot change your dog’s genetics. Still, factors like poor nutrition, environmental pollution, harsh flea medications, vaccinations, and stress can cause havoc in your pet’s immune system and set them off on a dangerous path.
Caring pet parents can avoid or effectively treat a cancer diagnosis in their pet. This is made possible with pet foods that are organic, and filled with nutrients, proteins and fats that the canine body needs. Providing your pet with clean, filtered water is also a daily necessity for the body to remain free of impurities.
Using natural flea prevention remedies, taking your dog for regular checkups, exercising your furbaby (hello endorphins), and being attentive to small behavioral or physical changes are all ways that you can keep your pet healthy for longer.
Holistic Cancer Treatment for Dogs, Final Thoughts
Conventional oncology still has a role to play, and sometimes surgery to remove a tumor is necessary to save a dog. However, holistic options like Turkey Tail Mushrooms, CBD, and other immune-boosting supplements can go a long way in detoxing your pet and aiding their internal battle against cancer cells, and its side effects.
As always, prevention is better than a cure, and giving your dog supplements, as mentioned above, as well as a healthy diet and active, stress-free lifestyle, can go a long way in preventing cancer and other ominous diseases.
Now set your device aside and go give your pet a cuddle.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you treat a dog with cancer naturally?
Supporting your dog’s immune system and offering supplements that reduce inflammation can treat cancer in dogs naturally. Holistic options include Turkey Tail Mushrooms, CBD oil, Turmeric products, Antioxidant-rich food, and vitamins that support a healthy immune response.
Can CBD shrink tumors in dogs?
Yes, CBD may shrink tumors in dogs. CBD has an impact on the endocannabinoid system by modulating pathways involved in the growth of cancer.
What kills cancer cells in dogs?
Turkey Tail Mushrooms have been supported in cancer studies and can improve the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells.
Can turmeric shrink tumors in dogs?
Turmeric is just one of the many herbs that are believed to have cancer-fighting abilities. It contains antimicrobial properties, meaning it can kill microorganisms (cancer cells) or stops their growth.