Have you wondered why the number of cancer cases in dogs has gone up? Unfortunately it’s not just due to better diagnosis. Dogs are getting cancer for many of the same reasons humans are. Exposure to toxins, diet, vaccines (yes I said it) and lifestyle can all contribute to this epidemic by causing changes in their mitochondria and DNA. So what are some things we as pet owners can do to minimize exposure or even prevent cancer in the first place?
What I learned from Mario
When I adopted Mario, my beautiful Lab/Shepard mix he had been living on the streets in St. Louis. He was found in an abandoned building with another dog. I had no idea of his past or his age. I was lucky enough to have him for 6 1/2 years and unfortunately he ended up with cancer the last year of his life. As many of you, I love my pets like they’re children. So, I took every single action possible to give him quality of life as long as I could.
Our pets can’t tell us when they aren’t feeling well or something is wrong but if we pay attention, they do give us signs. Mario was staying with friends while I was out of town for 2 weeks and when I came back I observed a noticeable weight loss. After an x-ray and ultrasound he was diagnosed with hemangio sarcoma. Apparently this is not an uncommon kind of cancer for dogs to develop. His tumor was too big and running through his liver and one of his kidneys so surgery was out. My holistic vet said there were several things we could do to make his life more comfortable while he was still here.
What’s in the bowl?
The first thing we changed was his diet. Due to hotspots (little itchy, owies) he had been eating grain-free kibble. Much like our gluten-free foods these are typically high in sugar. If you haven’t heard, sugar feeds cancer. You can read my article about it here Why Sugar is so Toxic So right away I stopped with the convenient “food in a bag” that we all feed our pets. I tried making his food with organic meat, chicken and vegetables. I tried eggs, pureed vegetables, bone broth, green juice…he wasn’t having any of it. After much searching around I found Just Food for Dogs This company truly helped extend his life. Just Food for Dogs uses fresh quality ingredients (organic can be done on request but is also expensive) all fit for human consumption. They then add supplements to complete the diet and no preservatives or fillers are used. Once every 2 weeks I’d go load up on dog food and freeze it. With the Just Food for Dogs diet, I also tried feeding my dog once a day. Fasting and/or a ketogenic diet can be beneficial in treating cancer as well. Some Chinese herbs and mushrooms can be helpful too.
I’ve also read that raw is the way to go. (This is definitely what my next dog is getting) Think about it, what are wolves and coyotes eating? Not cooked meat and vegetables and definitely not food that comes in a can or bag. Raw food gives them nutrients from bones and organ meats. One company I like is called BARF I know weird acronym but actually it stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. Raw food can also help with skin allergies, immunity and dental health. If you aren’t ready to try this yet you can add chopped vegetables to your dog bowl and even a raw egg. (Make sure it’s pasture-raised organic)
A few more tips
If you feed your dog canned food watch out for the BPA in the cans. This endocrine disrupter has adverse effects on them just as it does to humans. Make sure your pet has clean, filtered water. Do you drink unfiltered tap water? If you don’t, why should your dog? Tap water is treated with chemicals, and contains toxic metals, hormones, pesticides and other gross stuff.
So…vaccines are a problem. I know all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, bordetella, parvo and probably a few more. But too many vaccines too frequently pose a problem. This is why; over vaccinating your dog can cause seizures, cancer and neurological problems. What’s over vaccinating? Well think about this, the rabies vaccines are the same whether you have a Chihuahua or a Great Dane. Also most vaccines are designed to last for somewhere between 7 and 15 years. Why are we vaccinating every year or every three? There are a few things you can do to help with this. First, ask your vet for a titer test. A titer test measures the amount of antibodies in the blood. If they are still present, the vaccine isn’t needed. Additionally, if you’re dog’s immune system is compromised (cancer or another illness) you shouldn’t be injecting him or her. The vaccine labels say “for healthy pets only” so ask your vet if you can skip this dose or possibly let your dog go without for the rest of their life. It dramatically helps to have a holistic vet because they tend to be much more understanding and likely more willing to cooperate.
Hemp for your hound
The last treatment I tried was cannabis oil. I know of a few people who have treated their cancer this way too. My neighbor suggested it and after running the idea by my vet I decided to give it a try. The oil I had the most success with was Vet CBD This oil is designed specifically for animals but must be purchased at a dispensary. If you live in a state where cannabis is not yet legal you can try City and Sea Trading pet cbd which does not contain THC but still has many health benefits for your animal. Benefits that include easing arthritis, back pain, anxiety, stress, nausea and seizures.
What about environmental toxins?
Alright, I’ve got some questions for you to think about. Our pets spend their time closer to the ground than we do. What are you cleaning your floors with? I use vinegar on mine. Are you leaving your internet router on while you’re at work all day? When you walk your dog is he or she sniffing and rolling in grass that has been sprayed with pesticides? Speaking of pests, how come it’s ok to put flea medication on your dog or cat but it’s not safe to touch? You can try bathing your pet only when you see fleas or you can try diatomaceous earth or orange essential oil.
I know how much you love your pet. The bonds we create with our dogs are beyond special. There are quite a few things you can do to extend their quality of life. Putting into practice my above tips may even prevent disease in the first place. Make one change at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. But a long, clean, happy life will make your time together as rich as possible. You both deserve it!
Carol C. says
Thank you so much for this post Wendra! I know this is a topic close to your heart – and look at how cute Mario is!! <3
This is so helpful, and you have given me some important reminders like turning my router off when I'm not home or during sleeping hours. Totally applicable for cats or any other indoor pets as well!
Thanks Carol! I agree, a lot of these tips can be beneficial for any indoor pets. And keeping the router off is good for you too!
Catherine Abbott says
Thank you….my boys are vaccine free….This has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I look forward to your pieces! Love
Catherine, that’s fantastic that your dogs are vaccine free! They’ll live long, happy lives!
Jennifer Halverson says
What a great, comprehensive article Wendra! For sure I will pass this along to any dog owners I know dealing with this. And if I ever get a dog myself, I know what to do. Thank you!
Thank you Jennifer, please pass this post along! Taking care of our animals’ health is as important as taking care of ours. Giving them a happy, long life is one of my passions!