How to treat liver tumors in dogs holistically and with herbs

Believe it or not liver tumors are some of the easier cancers that I work with. They are often slower to grow then other malignancies, and herbs and acupuncture seem to work very well to control them.

I have had a number of dogs who were diagnosed and given three months or less to live, who ended up living over a year. Most importantly they were happy and healthy while they were here. I think this is one of the most important considerations in treating cancer holistically. While I find in almost all animals I can extend life, their quality of life also stays very good. I have had many clients comment that their dogs actually seem healthier than before they had cancer, when they are on an protocol with acupuncture, herbs, and a good quality diet. I think this is because we are treating underlying deficiencies that were present before the cancer occurred.

I just lost a beautiful lab, named Hunter, who made it 22 months after diagnosis of a liver tumor. Up until the very end he was happy and he always got comments on his coat and how good he looked when he went out. Lou, see Lou’s story, is still doing well 20 months after diagnosis. I have seen these tumors shrink with just holistic medicine. These dogs really do quite well.

Liver tumors in dogs are most commonly hepatocellular carcinomas. There are also benign tumors that can start in the liver and although they are not technically cancer can end up rupturing or bleeding and sometimes can lead to death. This article is about treating liver tumors that start in the liver. Because of the liver’s placement and function in the body many cancers can spread to the liver, including lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma. There are other treatment strategies for these cancers.

I have found many of these dogs present with an episode of bleeding or collapse. Sometimes elevated liver enzymes are what leads to a diagnosis.

Occasionally surgery is helpful if there is a good prognosis and most or all of the tumor can be removed. I think this is worth consideration in some cases.

My protocol can vary from animal to animal but here is a list of some of the most common treatments I use.If the cancer has already spread to the lungs at the time of diagnosis then see Breathing through cancer – holistic herbal therapies to control lung metastasis. Follow links for more information about herbals and links to buy from

  1. Acupuncture – I consider acupuncture to be essential for treating liver tumors. I had one dog I treated live for over a year with just acupuncture and her tumor shrunk during that time.
  2. Artemisinin – This is one of the most effective herbals for treating liver tumors and always part of my protocol.
  3. Yunnan Baiyao – If there is bleeding or suspected bleeding this is a must. Yunnan Baiyao is the most effective tool to stop internal bleeding out there (except when surgery is called for). The western vet I work the most with has even started sending this clients to the international district for it recently. Most of the time I will use this for a month or two and then stop if the bleeding does not reoccur.
  4. Xiao Chai Hu Tang can be a great herbal to use against liver tumors especially if the signs fit or there are lung mets. Xiao Chai Hu Tang powder can be purchased through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil
  5. Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang with added San Leng and E Zhu if possible is commonly used for liver tumors. This is a great herbal for any type of liver cancer.
  6. Mushrooms – I recommend a combination of Shiitake, Maitake, Reishi and Cordyceps or the Host Defense My Community from Fungi Perfecti. They are a excellent company. Mushrooms help to strengthen the immune system and have strong cancer fighting properties. These can be added to food.
  7. Sanshedan Chuanbeiye – this is a great cancer fighter and should always be used if there is concern about cancer spreading to the lungs.
  8. Milk Thistle and/or SamE if there is liver function compromise
  9. A cancer fighting diet is an easy way to help your dog and they usually love the higher protein, less proceed foods – see Diets for cancer in cats and dogs

If you can, find a holistic vet to help you determine a protocol for your dog companion. If you can find one who does acupuncture even better! Please check with your animal’s regular vet before starting any herbals or supplements.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods for Treating Cancer in Cats and Dogs

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6 Responses to “How to treat liver tumors in dogs holistically and with herbs”

  1. Mimi Says:

    Hello Lena,

    We have already been in touch on November 13th, 2011 under “3 legged & happy” for Binny.
    She is doing absolutely great, I wish I could upload a pic to show you her huge smile playing in the deep snow on her 3 legs !

    Your site has become my bible…. I did not tell you last time that in 2005 we moved from the Caribbean to the middle of nowhere in BC (for family reasons) with 28 rescue dogs and 15 rescue cats. At this point we have 12 of each left.

    Our youngest dog, Sugar Plum, she is 9, collapsed last week. I took her “to civilization” for an ultra sound. It revealed a huge tumor in both her liver and her spleen. (>7 cm x 6 cm each). I was told she had for ”a couple of weeks to live”. It was not clear which was the primary tumor, the vet thought is was likely to be the liver.

    I put her on Artemisinin, on good quality CoQ10 100 mg (Ubiquinol), on Yunnan BaiYao, on IP6 1000 mg twice a day, on Shiitake and Maitake extract 50 mg twice a day (encapsulated by a natural pharmacy) on SanShedan ChuanBeiYe and, of course, on a cancer diet. At this point, she does not show any signs of lung mets or of compromised liver function. I was wary to add anymore to this cocktail…

    What do you think ??

    Thank you so much for everything !!!

  2. Lena McCullough, DVM Says:

    Hi Mimi,
    That sounds like a pretty good protocol to me. You may want to look into Xiao Chai Hu Tang as most of the cancer seems like it is in the middle so would go along with a triple burner obstruction. But of course follow your thoughts about not overloading her also. I hope she does well.

    If you have a photo of Binny you want me to post you can email it to and I can post it. I’m glad she is doing well!

    Sounds like you have an incredible animal family:-)
    best wishes,

  3. Mimi Says:

    Hi Lena,

    Thank you for your advise.
    I received the compounded Xiao Chai Hu Tang today.
    Sugy is well so far, let’s hope it stays that way for a little while longer !

    I will keep you up to date.

  4. Mr. S. Sagall Says:

    My 12-year old bitch – a cross between a retriever and a Belgian shepherd – was diagnosed with spleen and liver cancer last week. My vet, with whom I have been for many years and in whom I have considerable faith, said that no conventional treatment is available. I would, therefore, like to try a holistic approach and would be grateful if you could let me know whether such an alternative treatment might be available.

  5. Lena Says:

    There are many alternative ways for treating cancer. I use herbs and acupuncture mostly and have found they can be quite effective. I would highly recommend trying to find a holistic vet in your area to work with. If you haven’t found this article there is some good links to finding a vet. I hope you are able to find someone to help her.
    best wishes,

  6. Trace his person, Jon Evans Says:

    Trace found to have tumor near liver after showing blood loss and low red cell count. Sample of tumor sent today for testing.
    Poor appetite and listless demeanor prompted vet check.