Lymphoma in dogs and cats – integrative medicine – chemotherapy and herbs with a side of acupuncture
The prognosis with this disease can be very bad, especially if no treatment is used.
However the good news is, with chemotherapy and holistic medicine we can often get 18-24 months and occasionally ongoing remission. Integrative medicine clearly is the best way to go with this disease.
With no treatment I have seen animals die within one week of diagnosis. The average is 4 weeks with no treatment. With using natural medicine, I have found usually I can move that out to 2-4 months. Chemotherapy alone pushes that even further with average survival at around a year.
When a dog or cat comes to me with lymphoma, I highly recommend they consult with an oncologist or a vet who does a lot of chemotherapy work. If you want remission with this cancer you need to do chemotherapy.
The most widely used chemotherapy protocol for this cancer consisted of a multiple drug approach and is given over approximately six months for dogs. In cats the protocol is shorter and the main vet I work with believes that one to three chemo treatments can significantly slow down this disease in felines.
Full chemotherapy for dogs can also be quite expensive, around $4000. Shorter durations can be given for this cancer as well if cost or tolerance of chemotherapy is a concern.
Because so many people choice to do chemotherapy for this cancer I divided this article into four sections.
- Treatments I recommend regardless of western treatment
- Treatments I use with chemo
- Treatments to give if no chemotherapy is used
So first what do I recommend for all cats and dogs with lymphoma? (Follow the links for more information on the supplements and dosing information.)
- Weekly or every other week acupuncture. I have seen this make a large difference in survival times and in keeping white blood cell levels within normal range during chemotherapy. Usually just with acupuncture alone I can double any prognosis. Please see Acupuncture for animals with cancer – stoking the healing power within
- Artemisinin can reduce node size and make animals feel better.
- A good cancer diet without grains. If you are using chemo do not feed raw food, make sure it is cooked. For more information on the diets I recommend seeDiets for cancer in cats and dogs.
- Xiao Chai Hu Tang – Sometimes I add indigo and others herbs to this formula for dogs I see in person to customize it but the straight formula works well also. If you are working with a holistic vet ask them about additions.
In addition to this protocol if no chemo is used I often recommend –
- Prednisone. Yes it is a western drug, but it will work as a chemotherapy drug and shrink the nodes. Every animal I have treated for lymphoma has been on prednisone and I highly recommend it. If you are considering chemo do not start the prednisone before consulting with an oncologist or vet who knows chemo. If given before chemo the prednisone can significantly reduce the outcome of the chemo.
- SanSheDan ChuanBeiYe is great at slowing this cancer down and keeping it out of the lungs.
- Hoxsey-like formula or Cancer Detox Support Hoxsey can make some dogs sick, I usually only recommend using it if you are working directly with a holistic vet who thinks it is appropriate. I also use a similar formula I call cancer detox which is less toxic but still has some great anti-cancer properties. Si Miao San I use a lot less of this these days but still sometimes if the lymphoma is mostly in the nodes or gastrointestinal system.
If chemotherapy is given I add to my main protocol:
- Mushrooms – I give a mushroom combo with shiitake, maitaki, reishi and cordyceps There are many of these products. Mushrooms not only have effects directly against cancer but stimulate the immune system and help keep white blood cell counts up.
- Milk thistle – improves the outcome of chemotherapy and decreases side effects
- Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – there is a great study out there at shows this herbal improves outcomes and reduces side effects during chemotherapy.
Cats have a hard time with multiple drugs and supplements. With cats I start them on my main protocol and then wait a week. If they are still eating well I will then add in one Chinese herbal formula in addition to my main protocol.
How do I decide which one?
The best I can tell you is usually this will either be Xiao Chai Hu Tang if this cancer is intestinal or centered in the spleen or liver, Hoxsey-like formula if the cancer is in the nodes, or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang if they are getting chemotherapy.
Cats can get a disease called small cell lymphoma which is very slow moving. I treat this differently and will try to put up another article on it.
As with all advice offered on this website please check in with your animal’s primary veterinarian before using any of these herbals and supplements.