Dog Cancer Help: Understanding Treatment Options & Supplements
Your dog was diagnosed with cancer. Now what? Our dog cancer support guide will help explain the different veterinary treatment options and dog cancer supplements that are available. Our goal is to provide you with dog cancer help and support. We include both traditional and alternative approaches. Whether you choose surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or palliative care, using dog cancer supplements can help support your pet.
The steps for cancer treatment in dogs can vary depending on the type of cancer and the individual pet's condition. However, here are some general steps that may be involved in the treatment process:
The first step in any dog cancer treatment is getting a diagnosis from your veterinarian.
Physical Examination - Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your dog, palpating for any abnormal lumps, masses or enlarged lymph nodes while evaluating overall health.
Medical History Review - Your veterinarian will assess your dog's medical history noting any observed symptoms or changes in behavior.
Diagnostic Tests - Imaging tests such as radiographs (X-rays), ultrasound or CT-Scans are used to visualize internal structures and detect any abnormal masses or changes. Blood work, including complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry analysis, and tumor markers, can provide valuable information about the pet's overall health and detect certain abnormalities that may indicate cancer. If a suspicious mass is identified, a biopsy may be performed to collect a small sample of tissue. In some cases, a fine-needle aspirate or a tissue smear may be obtained from a mass. The sample is then examined under a microscope by a veterinary pathologist to determine if cancer cells are present and to identify the type of cancer. While cytology can provide initial information, a definitive diagnosis may require a biopsy.
2. Consultation With A Veterinary Oncologist
Even if you are not going to pursue treatment, scheduling a consultation with a veterinary oncologist can be very helpful. Veterinary oncologists are veterinarians who have undergone additional training and education specifically focused on diagnosing and treating cancer in animals. They possess specialized knowledge and experience in the field of veterinary oncology, enabling them to provide the highest level of care and treatment options for dogs with cancer. Veterinary oncologists have access to advanced diagnostic tools and techniques, such as specialized imaging, cytology, histopathology, and molecular testing, which can help to determine the type, stage, and extent of the cancer. While there isn't a miracle cure for dog cancer, this information is crucial for developing an appropriate treatment plan. Veterinary oncologists can also participate in cutting-edge therapies, clinical trials, and experimental treatments that may not be readily available through general veterinary practices. Consulting an oncologist opens up the possibility of accessing innovative and potentially more effective treatment options for your dog.
3. Consider Treatment Options
Once you have a diagnosis, the next step is to evaluate the costs and benefits of the treatment options for your dog's cancer. Treatment options can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these approaches. They may also include natural dog cancer treatments like vitamins and diet changes. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist will help you determine what options to consider, based on the type and stage of cancer, as well as the pet's overall health.
If the tumor is localized and surgically removable, your veterinarian will perform surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. This is often the initial step for many solid tumors. A veterinary specialist may be needed if accessing the tumor is difficult. Many times the entire tumor cannot be removed, but a procedure called debulking can be done. Debulking is surgery to reduce the size of the tumor as much as possible, knowing that some of the cancer will remain. Once the tumor has been removed, a pathologist will examine the tissue. The cancer cells will be analyzed along with the surgical “margins”. These are the borders surrounding the cancer tissue that was removed. Veterinarians will often refer to “clean” margins when all of the cancer tissue has been removed and no cancer cells are found on the border.
The word chemotherapy connotes fear because of the way it affects humans. But chemotherapy for dogs can be an entirely different experience. While intravenous administration may be required for some types of medications, others can be in pill form that the pet owner can administer at home. Most dogs do not experience significant side effects from chemotherapy and many tolerate the treatment well. Chemotherapy may be used to shrink tumors, slow down cancer growth, or alleviate symptoms. It can be done along with surgery, radiation or by itself. There are different types of chemotherapy protocols depending upon the pet’s stage and overall wellbeing.
Systemic Treatment - Chemotherapy may be given as a systemic treatment, meaning it targets cancer cells throughout the body. It is particularly beneficial when cancer has spread or is likely to spread beyond a single location. By circulating through the bloodstream, chemotherapy drugs can reach cancer cells that may be too small to detect or located in multiple areas of the body.
Tumor Shrinkage and Control - Chemotherapy can help shrink tumors and slow down their growth. This can be especially valuable when surgical removal of the tumor is not possible or when cancer has metastasized (spread) to other areas. Chemotherapy can help reduce the size of tumors, alleviate symptoms, and improve the pet's quality of life.
Chemoembolization – This new state-of-the-art procedure is a more targeted form of chemotherapy where the medication is injected directly into the cancer tumor.
6. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy radiation beams to target and kill cancer cells. It is often used in cases where surgery is not possible or as a follow-up treatment to eliminate remaining cancer cells after surgery. Here are some common pet radiation treatment protocols:
Localized Treatment - Radiation therapy is a local treatment that precisely targets cancer cells in a specific area of the body. It is particularly beneficial when cancer is localized and confined to a specific region, such as a tumor in a specific organ or a site where surgical removal is challenging or not possible.
Tumor Control - Radiation therapy is effective at killing cancer cells and reducing the size of tumors. It damages the DNA within cancer cells, inhibiting their ability to grow and divide. By reducing the tumor size, radiation therapy can help alleviate symptoms, improve organ function, and enhance the pet's quality of life.
Adjunct to Surgery - Radiation therapy can be used as an adjuvant treatment before or after surgery. Radiation can be used as a pre-surgical treatment to shrink tumors, making them more manageable for surgical removal and potentially increasing the chances of successful surgery. Even when a tumor is surgically removed, microscopic cancer cells may remain in the surrounding tissues. Use of radiation therapy post-surgery helps eliminate these residual cells and reduces the risk of recurrence.
Palliative Care - In situations where a cure is not possible, radiation therapy can be used as a palliative treatment to relieve pain, improve comfort, and enhance the pet's quality of life. It can help shrink tumors, reduce pressure on surrounding tissues or organs, and alleviate symptoms such as pain, bleeding, or difficulty breathing.
Immunotherapy aims to enhance the dog's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can involve the use of vaccines, immune-stimulating drugs, or monoclonal antibodies. Immunotherapy is often used in combination with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
Activating the Immune System - Immunotherapy aims to stimulate and enhance the dog's immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can help activate immune cells, such as T-cells and natural killer cells, to recognize cancer cells as foreign and eliminate them.
Targeting Specific Cancer Cells - Immunotherapy can be designed to specifically target certain markers or proteins present on cancer cells. This targeted approach can potentially spare healthy cells and tissues, leading to fewer side effects compared to conventional therapies.
Long-Term Antitumor Response - Immunotherapy can induce an ongoing antitumor response in a dog's body, even after the treatment is completed. It can help create a memory response within the immune system, allowing it to recognize and attack cancer cells if they reappear or spread.
8. Palliative Care For Dogs With Cancer
Throughout the treatment process, palliative care for dogs with cancer can improve your pup's overall well-being. This may include pain management, nutritional support (diet changes and supplements), and addressing any side effects or complications that may arise from the treatment.
Pain Management - Dogs with cancer may experience pain due to the disease itself or as a side effect of treatments. Pain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, or other analgesics, may be prescribed to alleviate pain and improve the dog's comfort.
Anti-Nausea Medication - Dogs undergoing cancer treatment, particularly chemotherapy, may experience nausea and vomiting. Anti-emetic medications may be prescribed to manage these side effects and help the pet maintain a healthy appetite.
Antibiotics and Antifungals - Dogs with cancer may have a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to infections. Antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed to prevent or treat infections and maintain the pet's health.
Nutritional Support - Dogs with cancer fare best on a low carbohydrate diet. Many pet owners have found that a raw frozen diet works well because it is easily digestible and has a high nutrient content. Adding omega-3s in the form of baked fish, sardines and fish oil is also helpful. The best diet for your dog may depend on what type of cancer they have been diagnosed with. At Ask Ariel, we include free diet tips with each order. Include information about your pet and their current diet and treats on the order form at checkout and we will include some diet tips on your packing slip.
Natural supplements for dogs with cancer can help strengthen the immune system and support overall health. Here are some commonly recommended dog cancer supplements:
Probiotics - Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can support gastrointestinal health and promote a healthy gut microbiome. They may help improve digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. Consider probiotic supplements that are specifically formulated for pets.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil supplements, can have anti-inflammatory effects and support the immune system. They may help reduce inflammation, support cardiovascular health, and promote a healthy coat and skin.
Antioxidants - Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, resveratrol, curcumin, beta-carotene, and selenium, can help neutralize harmful free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage. They may support the immune system and overall health. Antioxidants can be found in supplements or in natural food sources, such as fruits and vegetables.
Medicinal Mushrooms - Certain types of medicinal mushrooms have immune-stimulating properties and may help support the immune system. Cordyceps and maitake mushrooms can help reduce cancer-related fatigue and the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Reishi (the mushroom of immortality) and turkey tail mushrooms contain natural beta-glucans that help to regulate and support the immune system.
Digestive Enzymes - Digestive enzyme supplements can assist in breaking down and absorbing nutrients, especially in dogs with reduced appetite or gastrointestinal issues. They can support optimal digestion and nutrient utilization.
Hemp Extract - Hemp extract is often considered as part of a comprehensive supportive care plan for pets with cancer. It may help manage various symptoms associated with cancer and its treatments, such as nausea, vomiting, and sleep disturbances. Hemp has shown anti-inflammatory properties in various studies. Hemp extract may help reduce inflammation and manage pain associated with cancer or cancer treatments. Reports also indicate that hemp extract has appetite-stimulating effects, potentially improving a pet's nutritional intake. Overall, hemp extract for dogs with cancer could potentially alleviate discomfort and improve the pet's overall quality of life.
Dog Cancer Support
As a pet owner, understanding traditional veterinary care and natural dog cancer treatments can help you make the most informed decisions for your pet. With knowledge and support, you can be a proactive advocate for your dog, offering them the best chance for a brighter future in their battle against cancer.
OncoPet Cancer Vitamin is a proprietary blend of herbs and medicinal mushrooms that provide powerful dog cancer support. The natural ingredients in OncoPet contain polyphenols, beta-glucans and antioxidants, like D-fraction and L-ergothioneine, that boost the immune system and help regulate your dog's inflammatory response. OncoPet is one of the most comprehensive vitamins for dogs with cancer. It includes herbs to help balance the gut microbiome and reduce nausea and cancer-related fatigue. Combines well with cancer treatments from your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist. Helps pets handle chemotherapy and radiation. Excellent value. One bottle lasts up to 8 months for small dogs.
Amazing Omegas is the highest quality, purified fish oil available for pets. It is a powerhouse of omega-3s for dogs with cancer. Amazing Omegas is a highly purified fish oil made from sardines, anchovies and mackerel processed with minimal heat to preserve the oil in its natural state. Packed in glass bottles to prevent any chemicals from plastic leaching into the oil. Naturally processed, highly bioavailable essential fatty acids with all toxins and heavy metals carefully removed. Compare the nutrient panel of this premium pet fish oil to all other brands and see the difference.
Resveratrol for Dogs is an exceptional antioxidant making it one of the most important dog cancer supplements. Some owners that have dog breeds with a higher incidence of cancer, such as bichon frises, German shepherds, Labradors, golden retrievers or boxers, use Resveratrol as a supplement to prevent cancer in dogs. It acts on the process of carcinogenesis by affecting all three phases - tumor initiation, promotion and progression - and suppresses the final steps of carcinogenesis. Resveratrol is cardio-protective. Very important if your pet is undergoing radiation. Energizing, promotes longevity. Excellent for senior dogs. Resveratrol for Dogs also supports immune function.
Happy Paws Organic Hemp Extract For Dogs - Hemp extract for dogs with cancer can help reduce inflammation and support a healthy immune system. The ingredients in Happy Paws Drops are being researched for their beneficial effects on cancer. Anecdotal reports include reduced pain, inflammation and discomfort. Happy Paws contains simple ingredients: organic hemp extract and coconut oil. It’s rigorously tested for potency and purity. Each 1oz bottle contains 550mg of full spectrum hemp extract in an unflavored all-natural coconut oil base. Easy to administer and well tolerated by most dogs. 100% organic. Made in the USA.
K9 CurcuMagic is a scientifically proven natural anti-inflammatory supplement for dogs with cancer. It contains a patented combination of three curcuminoids that act as free-radical scavengers. These cancer-fighting nutrients in this unique bioactive turmeric formula help pets prevent and fight cancer. Curcumin inhibits tumor growth and may help to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy. K9 CurcuMagic absorbs best when digested with fat, especially omega-3 fatty acids (Amazing Omegas), which is why our clients use the two dog cancer supplements together. If your pet is undergoing radiation, curcumin can protect the skin.
Immune Harmony is a premium-quality, patented blend of plant sterols and antioxidants. This unique plant sterol supplement is well-tolerated by even the smallest pets. This dog vitamin has been successfully used in conjunction with chemotherapy and/or steroids since 2005. The sterols contained in Immune Harmony have been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and immunomodulatory properties. No known toxicity has been found. The antioxidants protect the body from free-radical damage and an essential fatty acid complex assists in the bioavailability of these health-promoting nutrients. Excellent value: One bottle lasts between two and four months depending upon the weight of your dog.
"Murphy was diagnosed with Stromal Sarcoma after a tumor on her spleen was discovered (which was removed through surgery) & was given 3 months (tops) to live. The vet told us to not even bother with chemo or radiation. This all happened in early August of '06. We were desperately searching for dog cancer help for Murphy. Ask Ariel gave us a dog cancer diet for Murphy and a supplement protocol (Amazing Omegas, K9 CurcuMagic, Resveratrol for Dogs) based on her symptoms and type of cancer. It is almost as if she knows every day is a gift. Thank you for all your care and concern. Murphy sends her love :)" - Gina
Murphy was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and lived to be 15 years old (2014) -- approx 8 years while following Ask Ariel's recommended diet and supplement protocol.
How To Protect Your Pet From Cancer
- Healthy Diet and Exercise - Feeding a low carbohydrate diet along with regular exercise will help regulate your dog's blood sugar and support a healthy immune system. Antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids are essential.
- Remove Toxins From Their Environments - Keep toxic substances (cleaners, lawn pesticides, cigarette smoke, etc.) away from your pet. Cigarette smoke has been linked to certain types of cancer in pets.
- Perform Wellness Exams and Laboratory Testing - Pets can't tell us when they don't feel well and often don't show signs of cancer until the disease has progressed. Regular checkups and lab tests for senior pets (every 6 months) can help detect cancer in the earlier stages.
- Be Your Pet's Advocate - We get so busy and time passes without realizing how long it's been since your dog last went to the vet. It's also easy to overlook a small sign, such as your pet's appetite waning, by thinking it's just due to old age. If you think something could be wrong or your dog just seems a little different, be sure to bring the issue to the attention of your veterinarian.
"Thrilled to have had ONE additional year...I was informed that my girl, GRETA who is closest to me, sleeps by my side, accompanies me most anywhere, etc had TWO to FOUR weeks to live at the most..I was told she had inoperable liver cancer that had already spread to her lungs and was quite widespread. I was shocked and devastated that my girl that I had taken special care of since she was about 1 yr was now going to leave way before I had hoped...Barely being able to comprehend the bad news, I prepared for the last few weeks with her. BUT, my FIRST phone call was to Susan Davis (animal nutritionist) who recommended the necessary supplements to wage WAR and give it a good fight. I listened to everything Susan told me to use and feed her...AND NOW we have surpassed the ONE YEAR mark!!! Greta has slipped down hill as of late and I realize the time is near but I AM COMPELLED to inform and shout from the mountaintops, NEVER give up and PLS Try holistic/homeopathic remedies" - Rhonda, California
Products Used: Resveratrol for Dogs, Amazing Omegas, Special SAMe, K9 CurcuMagic, Liver & Gallbladder Support, LypoZyme, Power Probiotic
Common Cancers In Dogs
From lymphoma to mast cell tumors, by educating ourselves about these common cancers, we can provide our four-legged friends with the care they need, enhancing their quality of life and increasing their chances of successful treatment and recovery. Below are links to articles with additional information about some of the most common cancers in dogs:
Dog Brain Tumors
Mast Cell Tumors
Transitional Cell Carcinoma (Bladder Cancer)
Cats get cancer too. Below are links to articles with more information about feline intestinal lymphoma and mast cell tumors in cats:
Feline Intestinal Lymphoma
Mast Cell Tumors
Dog Cancer Diet
Are you trying to find the best dog cancer diet? Grains, starchy carbohydrates and food allergens can weaken immunity and contribute to long-term inflammation. Pets with cancer can benefit from a low carbohydrate diet high in omega-3s. Beef, poultry and grains (rice, barley, wheat) can be allergens for many dogs, so it is best to limit or avoid. Research has shown the importance of omega 3s for dogs with cancer, so adding baked fish, such as salmon, along with fish oil can be helpful.
Raw frozen diets are the gold standard in providing fresh nutrients for pets and are low in carbohydrates. Raw frozen diets include vegetables and omega 3s which are helpful for pets with cancer. A dog cancer diet should also include vegetables such as green beans, squash (butternut, zucchini, yellow squash), leafy greens, okra and artichoke hearts.
Ask Ariel Pet Nutritionist Susan Davis’ dog cancer diets were developed while working as a holistic pet nutritionist at VCA hospitals and a leading Southern California veterinary oncology clinic for over 10 years. Please provide your dog’s diet on the order form at checkout. Ask Ariel will include FREE diet tips for your pet on the packing slip that comes with your order.