Cancer... is a Scary Word
Jun 29, 2011 02:18PM
● By By: Anne Hyle, DVM
Unfortunately, we are seeing cancer more and more frequently and it is killing up to one half of those pets over 10 years old. Often, the exact cause of the cancer isn’t known but it is usually caused by genetic mutations in susceptible cells. These genetic mutations are usually caused by inflammation and oxidation. Therefore, anything which can reduce this inflammation and oxidation will reduce the cancer risk. Feeding natural diets, using appropriate nutritional supplements, avoiding over vaccination and using flea and tick treatments only on an as-needed basis will help to decrease the inflammation and oxidative stresses placed on the body.
The battle against cancer starts at the microscopic level within your pet. Genetic mutations within cells cause them to become cancerous. This leads to rapid cancer cell growth that invades surrounding healthy tissues. A healthy immune system can eliminate these cancer cells before they cause a problem. However, with a weak immune system, these cells may not be eliminated and they may begin to continue to divide and grow until they form cancerous lumps which may be found anywhere in or on the body.
There are certain factors which can make your pet more susceptible to cancer. Environmental toxins can damage your pet’s DNA and lead to cancer. The use of certain weed killers have been linked to lymphoma and bladder cancer in the dog. Some cancers develop after infection with certain viruses in cats. Feline leukemia has been shown to lead to lymphoma and feline immunodeficiency virus has been shown to cause oral cancer. Heavy exposure to sun in pets with pale skin and minimal hair coats may cause cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma is especially common on the ear margin and the nose of cats with white hair on these parts. Vaccinations have been shown to cause a high rate of fibrosarcoma in the cat which is often highly invasive and fatal.
Cancer kills in many ways. It may cause death because it starves the normal tissues by utilizing the nutrition for itself. It may spread to other tissues in the body and cause respiratory distress, organ failure, and seizures. Some cancers are so invasive that they cause large disfiguring draining wounds and sores. Other cancers may cause bleeding disorders leading the pet to become anemic. Cancers such as mast cell tumors are extremely uncomfortable and eventually cause nausea and vomiting as they spread over the body.
Malignant anal sac tumors may cause the blood calcium levels to become so high that it is fatal. Cancer thrives on carbohydrates so a low carbohydrate diet is imperative to prevent cancer. Dogs and cats do not require many carbohydrates and, unfortunately, most pet food is loaded with low quality carbohydrates such as corn and rice. Many foods also contain artificial flavors and colors which may lead to oxidation and inflammation. Another leading cause of cancer in pets is vaccination. While certain core vaccines, such as Rabies, Distemper and Parvo, are necessary, they do not need to be given as frequently as many veterinarians recommend. Rabies is required by law and must be given every 3 years.
However, the other vaccines should be given only on an as needed basis which may be determined by you and your veterinarian. After the first set of adult vaccinations, the canine and feline core vaccinations last for at least three years and may be protective for life. Blood tests, called titers, may be done annually to asses whether your pet needs to be vaccinated.
When a pet develops cancer, early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is necessary to minimize side effects and to prevent further spread of the disease. For many skin tumors, excision is often curative if done early enough. However certain types of tumors, such as mast cell tumors and sarcomas are invasive and spread rapidly and early diagnosis and removal is necessary to prevent reoccurrence. Breast tumors are another type of cancer which is commonly seen in unsprayed female dogs. About half of these are malignant. The treatment is surgical excision and the dog must be spayed at that time to help prevent reoccurrence. Other common tumors are bone cancer, anal sac tumors and spleen tumors. These three types of cancer often have a poor prognosis for long term survival.
In my practice I have seen many forms of cancer. I am often presented with cases which have had numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Many of these patients have been given only a short time to live with no further options for treatment.
I have had extremely good success in many cases using a combination of dietary therapy, herbal and nutritional therapy, and neoplasene (a plant extract)
In February 2010 I saw C.J., an 11 year old Golden Retriever which had recently had a mast cell tumor removed from his front leg. The tumor was so aggressive that more tumors were already appearing before the suture’s were even removed. His owner’s were told that radiation treatments were his only option for further treatment. Desperate for another alternative, his owner came to me for holistic therapy. She had already changed his diet to a raw, grain free diet. We began a combination of Chinese herbal medication and nutritional supplements and we injected his tumor with Neoplasene. He was also placed on oral Neploplasene. His tumor completely resolved and, as of May 25, 2011, has never reoccurred. She continues to use the herbs and Neoplasene orally and, according to his “Mom” he has never been better.
This case is just one example of how natural therapies can provide life saving alternatives for our pets. While not all pets have such an amazing recovery, I have seen many cases which have responded similarly to natural treatments. In many cases, surgery is definitely needed in order for the treatments to be effective. In some cases, chemotherapy is also recommended. I believe a combination of conventional therapies, as well as natural treatments provide the best results for a longer, happier, healthier life for our best friends.