Archive for the ‘cancer book’ Category

How to integrate all modalities when treating cancer

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

We learned in vet school that when you have more than one vet in the room and an animal comes in with life threatening injuries the most important thing is for someone to say “I’m in charge!”. Without this simple statement the chances of an animal making it is much less. Until someone takes control everyone assumes someone else is in charge.

With cancer I believe it is the same thing. Someone needs to be the main person making the decisions. That can be the oncologist, the holistic vet, the general practitioner vet, or in some cases the animal’s caregiver. It doesn’t matter who it is and it does not have to be the person with the most knowledge but it has to be someone. It does not mean that everyone doesn’t work together as a team and sometimes it can shift between people as treatment goes on. Just know who it is.

When I work with animals who are not undergoing chemotherapy this is generally me. I make the final decisions on what happens with the wishes of the animals’ caregiver in mind. We get recommendations from the regular veterinarian and sometimes me and the regular veterinarian get together on the phone and put our heads together.

Because I see my cancer animals every two weeks I have a better feel of where they are at and usually a better connection with their people.

If there is an oncologist involved usually they are in charge, although often I am given free rein to add in herbals/supplements and change diet. Most oncologists don’t have herbal training but many are very open to us who do.

If you, the animal’s person are in charge you can gather information and make educated choices based on that.

Drugs and herbals do not have to be exclusive. Even in the animals I treat completely herbally I often times recommend drugs for pain or comfort issues.

I have found that it is better to do a fewer things consistently than many treatments not consistently. Do everything you can to follow recommendations on the most important treatments.

Don’t forget the food. Good food is so important and often I find you can add in foods that help fight cancer without having to add more pills. If you can, supplement with whole foods before pills! Sardines for omega fatty oils, sweet potato and carrots for vitamin A, cooked mushrooms for your medicinal mushrooms.

The internet is great! Hey I’m the internet aren’t I? Use it to do your homework but remember that no one knows your dog as well as you do.

Don’t follow advice that doesn’t sit well with you or your gut feels is wrong. Remember that your vet actually is seeing your dog, none of us in the cyberspace are. We all have different tools to work with. Your vet may not have the tools I use but they see your dog and know them, I don’t. If at all possible talk to your vet about what you find. You would be surprised how open many vets are to herbs and supplements especially for diseases where there is not a western treatment.

If you don’t feel like you have the support of your vet, consider finding a vet who does support your choices and who you can be open with.

There is not one right choice when it comes to cancer. We don’t have a miracle cure that always works, but we have many tools that can make it so animals can live longer better lives.

Back to integrative and holistic methods for treating cancer in cats and dogs.

Other cancer resources – in development

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

If you haven’t come from my cancer book, please check out Integrative and Holistic Approaches to Cancer in cats and dogs
Here are some other great resources –

  • Georgia’s Legacy is one of my favorite resources for any person with a dog fighting cancer. They have put a lot of time into this site and it is easy to navigate.
  • Tripawds is a wonderful online community for three legged animals. Another great site for support and information.
  • Kingdom of Basil is my etsy store where you can buy many custom ground herbal formulas.
  • Darwin’s is my favorite company for raw diets

Please let me know if you have a good resource I should add. I will only add websites that I believe to be helpful and accurate. Hopefully this page will get longer with time!

Working with picky appetite in dogs with cancer and older dogs – Help, my dog will not eat!

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

First off let me say that like with dementia I certainly do not have all the answers to this problem. It can really vary from dog to dog. I’m hoping that the tricks I have learned over the years will help and that you the visitor will also add your own stories.

In people with cancer it is reported that the sense of taste changes. I believe this to also be true in many dogs. While many vets suggest that nausea is at the root of dogs with cancer not eating well, I tend to blame the change in taste more often. In older dogs I believe taste also can get more muted as they age.

There are a two main approaches in working with appetite, one is to make eating more interesting and the other is to use acupuncture, drugs, or herbs that stimulate appetite.

Making eating more exciting for your picky eating dog

  1. Change things up. Many dogs will do better if there food is changed around on a daily basis.
  2. Add in table scraps. It is sometimes amazing how much a little human dinner will make a dog dinner more attractive. Meat is usually the most popular. Just remember no macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, chocolate or onions.
  3. Salt it – high quality foods are often low in salt. Add in some salt or salted meat broth to make the food more yummy.
  4. Something stinky – sometimes the addition of the stinky foods will help. Try cat food, sardines, canned salmon, bacon, or if you really want stinky — tripe. They sell tripe for dogs in a can or as a raw food.
  5. Cooked chickens and roasts. I have had many clients make roasts or buy rotisserie chickens from the store. These are often times yummy but work better if you as the human also eats meat and can share in the feast.
  6. Try dry food again – I have had dogs that will not eat anything but will suddenly eat dry again. They may turn their nose up at that prime rib and then eat kibble.
  7. Make eating a game – hide the food behind the furniture, in the closet, outside, drop it by mistake, make it a game. “Look, look what I found, yummy!” Just remember where it is so it doesn’t rot.
  8. Hand feeding – some dogs do much better if they are hand feed a bit at a time.Ok yes you may be spoiling them but its not like they need to go out and get a job someday. It’s ok to spoil your old or sick dog.
  9. Heat the food – in the microwave is fine. Sometimes warm food is more yummy.
  10. It is better to have them eat something than the right thing. If you have a dog with cancer and they will not eat a cancer diet add some carbs/grains back in. It is better than not eating.
  11. Feed them when they are hungry. Some dogs will only eat in the evening or will only eat small meals. Offer food often and if they are eating well give them a little more when they are hungry.
  12. Eat with your dog. Some dogs like to eat at the same time as their people.

Increasing appetite in the face of disease

  1. Look at how many medications/supplements you are giving your dog. I can not stress this enough. I have had dogs come in on 50, yes 50 pills a day, with no appetite. You probably would not be eating on all that either. Before adding something, cut out anything your dog does not need and see if their appetite returns or work with your vet on if some of the important medications can be stopped for awhile. If their appetite returns when you cut back on pills then gradually add things back in. Do not add in more before looking at if you are giving too much! This is especially true of cats which will get their own article on appetite someday.
  2. Acupuncture can help many dogs with appetite. Consider giving it a try as it has other wonderful benefits for older or sick dogs.
  3. There are many western drugs out there that can help. If nothing else is working talk to your vet about what is right for your animal friend.
  4. Herbals – if you have a veterinary herbalist in your area set up a consultation with them. The herbal that I have found works the best in the most animal is a wonderful little formula from Jeremy Ross which he calls Gentiana 2. It contains gentiana and artemisia which are bitters and support appetite along with other herbals (fenugreek, fennel, acorus, ginger, licorice and jujube) that help support digestion. It does not work in all dogs and it’s effect is milder than western drugs but it is gentler on the body and safer. I usually start with it before going to drugs.

Thank you Bill P. for suggesting this topic!

As with all articles on this blog, this does not replace medical advice. If your dog is not eating and you have not seen your veterinarian, please make an appointment to rule out any serious health issue.

Cosmo – star dog

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

cosmo2Joe always told me how fast Cosmo was. In his younger days he could outrun anyone, faster than the wind. By the time I meet him he had slowed down quite a bit but he still had fire in his eyes. He was tired but not ready to give up.

His prognosis was poor. Because the tumor that was found on his liver had been bleeding it was likely to continue and probably take his life sometime in the next few months. Luckily my favorite western vet, Tim Kraabel, had already sent Joe down to the International District for Yunnan Baiyao and for the time being the bleeding had stopped.

Cosmo settled in for his first acupuncture treatment and relaxed into the needles. That was one of the last times he made my job so easy. He was one of those dogs that acupuncture really energized and as he started to feel better and better I got to see Cosmo’s goofy side. He loved waiting until me and Joe were distracted and then shake, throwing needles around the room. I swear he was laughing as he would do it. Of course it wasn’t in spite, he did like his acupuncture just perhaps felt we were a little too dull for his taste. “Enough of this zen stuff, let’s have some fun!”

I think Cosmo got his attitude about life from Joe. I always knew when Cosmo was on my schedule that I was going to have a good day and get to laugh and smile a bit. Both Joe and Cosmo approached life with love and excitement. Joe often told me that he believed that his buddy was going to do well and would picture him being happy and healthy. I know Joe’s attitude helped Cosmo do better. There is a lot of power in positive thought. I also know that Cosmo held a special place in Joe’s life because of his family being on the other coast.

In the end Cosmo got to take one last cross country road trip back with Joe to their home on the east coast, he saw Joe back home. He stayed around for awhile, made sure that everyone was fine and then at 14 years of age decided it was time for him to move on.

I like to think that Cosmo is up their running through the stars, as fast as light itself.

Joe wrote me this amazing letter and gave me permission to share it – it tells more of Cosmo’s story-

cosmo1We pulled up to your office and Cosmo could not wait to get out of my car. It was as if he actually knew where we were going. Once you opened the door and welcomed us in, Cosmo began wagging his tail, in excitement. It had been a couple of long days before we met where I had doubts that I would ever see him wag his tail again…

We met Dr. Kraabel at the Lien Animal Clinic. The vet knew right away that Cosmo was in severe distress. After several tests were conducted to diagnose what actually was going on with Cosmo, it was determined that Cosmo was bleeding internally from an apparent mass on his liver. (He was diagnosed with Cushings Disease over a year ago back east) Dr. Kraabel stabilized Cosmo and told me to take him home for the night and not make any decisions until morning. Dr. Kraabel did inform me about your practice and a Chinese herb, Yunnan Baiyao (also known as Yunnan Paiyao), that has worked on other dogs in stopping internal bleeding.

After arranging for Cosmo’s “nanny” Michele Liese to come over and watch him, I immediately drove to the International district and picked up a supply of Yunnan Paiyao. While I was gone, Michele, (owner of an outstanding dog walking/dog care service in West Seattle), read all about the herb and felt really confident that it would work. Within an hour of giving Cosmo the first capsule, he was noticeably better. I brought him back to Lien a couple of days later, and they determined that the internal bleeding had, indeed, stopped. I was ecstatic, Cosmo wagged his tail with approval.

By the time I brought him in for his first acupuncture, he had improved so much, he was back to himself. Doc, you welcomed us to your practice, gave Cosmo a treat, and from the time you inserted the first acupuncture needle into my buddy, you began to turn the clock back. Cosmo just lay there content and actually sighed a few times acknowledging his pleasurable treatment. There were of course, other moments where he would attempt to shake as if to dry himself off, as we both covered up from the “projectiles” shooting off his body. And, of course, the acupuncture relaxed him so much that there were moments when he would let them rip, very quietly but strongly, and in close quarters. You took it all in stride and just laughed.

I took Cosmo to you every 2 weeks and after each visit, it was like he was touched by an angel. He grew stronger and acted younger as if the clock was being turned backwards. We continued with the treatments for over nine months, nine months that I never thought I would have with my best friend.

We lived in West Seattle for over 1 year when I decided it was time to go back home to my family. It was a very difficult decision to leave because of the amazing things that you did for Cosmo. We drove back home 3000 miles across this great country with Cosmo as my navigator. He was an amazing companion the whole 4 plus day ride home. I never imagined that I would be going back home with Cosmo after all that he had been through, but I owe it all to you and your amazing skills, compassion and humanity. Doc, you gave my buddy and me another year of wonderful life.

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2012, Cosmo passed away peacefully. He was free from his tired and broken body. He was nearly 14 years old. My heart is broken and he is sorely missed. I cannot ever put into words how truly grateful I am to you Doc for giving me an extra year with my beloved dog, Cosmo. Cosmo was the most incredible dog a man could have ever been blessed to have in his life. He was truly a noble creature in his prime and full of grace at his death.

A Thank You only touches the surface as to how eternally grateful I am to you.

Supporting chemotherapy with anti-oxidants and herbs in dogs and cats

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

If you do a search of Medline, you will not find one study that shows that anti-oxidants or herbs have a negative effect on outcomes of people or animals with cancer who are getting chemotherapy drugs. Even though most oncologists recommend that you do not use anti-oxidants or herbs when an animal is undergoing chemotherapy, there are no studies to support this.

However there are studies that show the opposite. They show longer survival, less toxicity, better quality of life, improved blood work values (such as increases in white and red blood cells) and longer tumor remission with herbal and anti-oxidant treatments.

So why are oncologists so against anti-oxidants and herbs?

These supplements support the body, they keep cells strong, they prevent oxidative stresses, they help with blood flow and blood supply to cells, the very things that chemotherapy doesn’t want when it destroys cancer cells. What many oncologists don’t realize is that cancer cells are very different than normal cells when it comes to natural supplements/herbals.

Cancer cells don’t rely on the things normal cells do. For example many cancer cells live in an oxygen-deprived environment that would kill normal cells yet cancer cells can thrive in such a state. See Oxygen deprivation in cancer cells leads to growth and metastasis. Anti-oxidants don’t appear to protect cancer cells from oxidative stresses. What makes a normal cell strong does not make a cancer cell strong. In fact if we keep the normal cells of the body strong they can help fight the cancer.

With chemotherapy, we are poisoning the body with chemicals that destroy rapidly dividing cells, and cancer cells are very rapidly dividing and reproducing. Unfortunately we also kill off rapidly dividing normal cells such as the lining of the gut and red blood cells and immune system cells (white blood cells). Herbs, supplements and acupuncture can help support normal cells while making it harder for cancer cells to survive. This increases chemotherapy’s effect while decreasing its side effects.

I often use anti-oxidants and herbs with animals undergoing chemotherapy and find that it improves longevity and helps reduce side effects. In addition I love to get these animals on a good acupuncture schedule, as acupuncture is amazing at helping the body during chemotherapy.

Here is a short list of my favorite supplements and herbals to use during chemotherapy. There are many more out there but I think these are the best.

  • First I just have to mention acupuncture – I have had a number of dogs through the years who had to stop chemo because of side effects or low blood cell counts. After one or two acupuncture treatments almost all these dogs were able to continue with chemo. I love that acupuncture is very non-evasive and has many other actions to help animals with cancer. Also see Acupuncture for animals with cancer.
  • Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – every dog I treat who is undergoing chemotherapy is on this formula. Click on the name to read more about it. I can’t say enough about this formula. Now available through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil.
  • IP6- Inositol Hexaphosphate also known as IP6 is important in stimulating the immune system’s natural killer cells to destroy cancer tissue. It is an antioxidant and has effects in inhibiting cancer cell growth and division. Not much research has been done in humans with this supplement but a lot of cancer studies have been done in animals. IP6 has been shown to enhance chemotherapy’s effect. IP6 can be bought off or at your local supplement store.
    I dose cats at 400mg two times a day and dogs 800-1600mg twice a day when I use this supplement.
  • Milk Thistle – prevents oxidative damage to normal cells and helps to support the liver in detoxification of chemotherapy drugs. There are studies that show that Milk Thistle not only protects normal cells but also enhances the outcomes of chemotherapy drugs, i.e. it helps them work better and kill cancer cells more effectively. See National Cancer Institute’s Page on Milk Thistle and Sloan Kettering Cancer Center article on Milk Thistle.
  • Coenzyme Q10 – prevents cardio toxicity of doxorubicin without reducing its effectiveness. In addition it is a good anti-oxidant, stimulates the immune system and has its own anti-cancer activities. I almost always use this supplement with doxorubicin. I dose Coenzyme Q10 at 200mg per day for dogs and 50mg per day for cats. Coenzyme Q10 can be buy off of or at your local supplement or natural food store.
  • Medical mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, reishi, turkey tail and/or cordyceps help to enhance the immune system and have strong anti-cancer activity. There are many good products out there. I like the MUSH mushroom blend for pets. If you are cooking up mushrooms as part of a homemade diet check out Fungusamongus. Human mushrooms supplements can also be given. I recommend at least 500mg of mushrooms be given daily for every 50lb of cat or dog. More is fine.
  • Fish Oil supplements – help with cancer cachexia and weight loss and help to support the body through anti-oxidant activity. I like the Nordic Naturals – Pet Cod Liver Oil.
  • Food therapy – add in anti-oxidants such as berries, green veggies and sweet potato which are high in vitamin A, medical mushrooms with anti-cancer properties and liver which is high in vit A and iron. See Diets for cancer in cats and dogs – you are what you eat a fighting cancer machine.
  • Work with herbals that fight against cancer so that it is not just the chemotherapy at work. I often include artemisinin, Xiao Chai Hu Tang or Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang in my protocol for animals getting chemotherapy. I rarely if ever use something very strong which can be toxic like Hoxsey with chemotherapy, although will use it after chemotherapy is over if it fits the cancer. If I am working with a cancer where Hoxsey is a good fit I often use Si Miao San. Use what fits your animal best. This is a very good place to get your holistic vet on board.

As with all articles on this blog please check with your animal’s veterinarian before adding any supplements or herbals.

Back to Integrative and holistic methods for treating cancer in dogs and cats

Above all quality of life – treating terminal disease in dogs and cats

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The nature of loving our animal companions is that at one point they will leave us. We are blessed with their presence in our lives but they are not blessed with long life like us humans.

Knowing that our animal companions will most likely die while we are still living, means that there will be something that takes them, whether cancer or old age or other diseases.

This does not mean we do not try our best to support them in illness or to treat the diseases that come along that we can. We are given medicine for a reason.

What it does mean is sometimes we need to reach a point of acceptance and do what we must out of love for them and not because we cannot bear to be on this earth without them.

True love sometimes means letting our loved ones die with dignity. It means not doing treatments that cause suffering if there is little hope attached to them.

With cats who live to be independent this is most clear. They often reach a point where they do not want intervention. With dogs who live to please us the line is often blurred.

So what does this mean?

If your dog loves the pizza crusts more than anything in the world and you want to put them on a grain free diet for cancer, allow an occasional pizza crust

If chemotherapy is making your dog or cat sick over and over again unless the good it is doing outweighs the odds it may not be worth continuing.

If you cat is already twenty years old, doing an invasive surgery may not be the best option.

If you can’t afford to pay for treatments without working a second job, think about if the time away from your animal companion is worth it.

If your dog hates acupuncture and shakes in the waiting room, it may be kinder to let them live out their last days at home.

If your cat runs from you every time you give meds, are they really worth giving (I make an exception to pain meds in a painful animal here).

Use your wisdom, find help from either local or online support groups and/or your veterinarian in helping make a decision of what is too much and what is most helpful.

Be kind to yourself, there is not just one right decision.

Do not give up hope but also do not allow suffering. Lead with your heart and your love.

Back to Integrative and Holistic Methods of Cancer Care

Healing from surgery – how to make recovery easier for our dogs and cats

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Many animals with cancer go under surgery to remove the primary tumor or as much of it as possible. Sometimes this is a fairly simple procedure if it is a small skin cancer which is being removed however in other cases surgery can involve removal or internal organs and can be much more extensive.

Even with the simple surgeries, surgery and anesthesia are hard on our animal friends. This is often even more difficult with cancer because most of these animals are already older. But there are things you can do to help them recover faster and more comfortably.

This article is written for my cancer book but also applies to any animals undergoing surgery or anesthesia.

As always, check with your veterinarian before using any supplements.

  1. Arnica
    Arnica is a homeopathic remedy which helps with bruising and trauma. Over the years I have been amazed and impressed at how much difference this very safe remedy can make in healing. I have seen incisions heal in half the time and dogs have very little bruising and swelling in situations you would normally expect to see it.

    I always recommend Arnica for all my animal patients who have to undergo surgery or any other procedure that there will be tissue or bone trauma. Because it is a homeopathic remedy it is very safe ever for old and debilitated animals.

    I use the Arnica 30c pellets and dose them at 2-5 pellets (usually 2 for cats/small dogs and 5 for large dogs) the morning of surgery, the evening after surgery, and then three times a day for three days. Because the pellets are so small they can safely be given the morning of surgery.

    Arnica can be bought at most health and supplement stores and online, click on Arnica above to go to the page.

  2. Acupuncture
    I highly recommend an acupuncture treatment right after surgery or anesthesia. Acupuncture can help with clearing anesthesia from an animal’s system and decrease the chance of them having a hard recovery. Acupuncture can also help ease pain and speed healing.

    If possible acupuncture can be performed the day of surgery after an animal has woken up. Many times this is not possible because of the hours acupuncturists work and I end up treating most animals the day after surgery.

    Acupuncture can also help dogs and cats who have had bad recoveries to anesthesia in the past and and make it possible to perform dentals or surgeries on these sensitive animals.

  3. Yunnan Baiyao
    While I don’t recommend Yunnan Baiyao (also called Yunnan Paiyao) for all animals undergoing surgery or anesthesia, it is still one of my most important herbal formulas. I mainly use it in any procedure or surgery where there is a concern about bleeding. This includes many tumor removal and abdominal surgeries. I have seen this wonderful herbal formula save animal’s lives before.

    Please see my article, A Magic Vial of Yunnan Baiyao and the wikipedia article.

    I usually dose Yunnan Baiyao at one capsule twice a day for a few days before and after surgery for your average sized dog. Cats and small dogs, I use the powder and put about a 1/8 of a teaspoon in their food twice a day. I reserve the red emergency pill for when an animal is already actively bleeding or when there is a very great risk of a bleed out during surgery.

    Yunnan Baiyao can be bought in most international districts and by clicking on Yunnan Baiyao above to go to the page.

  4. Reiki
    If one of my animals need to undergo surgery I always give them a reiki session before to get them into a good place for surgery. I usually work with a local practitioner, Rose DeDan, who also does animal communication. She is able to help explain what is going to happen and put their body in the best possible place for surgery and/or anesthesia.
  5. Pain medication
    Enough can not be said about pain medication. Make sure your veterinarian gives your animal pain medication before surgery and sends you home with something you can give at home. Nothing is worse then seeing our animals in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Pain medication is a most for all surgeries
  6. Companionship and love!
    You are the safest person to your animal. They want to be with you after surgery and they want to feel loved and cared for. If possible consider taking a day off work after their surgery or plan your animal’s surgery or procedure on a Friday when you can be home with their afterwards..
  7. Somewhere healing to recover
    It is so important to have somewhere safe, quiet, warm and soft to recover after surgery. Anesthesia can make the senses more sensitive and many animals get headaches coming out of surgery. Often times the drugs used also make our animal friends disoriented. Make sure that there is no access to stairs and nothing to fall off of. Keeping lights dim and sound to a minimum also helps. Sometimes classical music played softly will help relax our friends. If you have a highly stressed animal consider using a lavendar spray product in the environment or a pheramone spray such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. Dog Appeasing Pheromone Spray for dogs
  8. Bach Rescue Remedy
    This product is a very mild flower essence that can help with the stress of recovery. It is very safe and gentle. Often times we human caretakers can also use a littlePut a few drops in your animal friend’s drinking water, on their lips or on the inside of their ear.The pet or human rescue remedy tinctures can be used. Do not use the pastilles as they contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs.

I hope these simple suggestions are helpful! I know they have helped many of the animals I work with and my own beloved animal companions.

Return to Integrative and Holistic Methods of treating cancer.

The hardest cancer – how to treat hemangiosarcoma in dogs holistically with herbs and supplements

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Note:This article is about hemangiosarcoma of the spleen and abdomen. For information about hemangiosarcoma of the heart click here.

I have to say I always have considered hemangiosarcoma the hardest cancer to work with. It is highly aggressive, it can rapidly progress to the point where it causes sudden bleeding and death, and it is not very responsive to herbs or chemotherapy. After a few really hard to treat cases who died long before I wanted them to, I felt like giving up.

Recently I attended a lecture by Dr. Steve Marsden, one of my favorite herbalists, and my whole view on hemangiosarcoma changed. He has a new protocol that he is using for hemangiosarcoma and it is working in some animals. It is not a cure all but it makes it so some of these guys have really good quality of life, live longer and are far less likely to bleed out, even if you leave the primary tumor alone.

The first dog who I got to treat with this protocol just passed away when I first wrote this article, and while I will really miss his wonderful happy golden retriever love of life, I am so happy we were able to make his final months better.

Wilbur was rescued by a local massage therapist I work with when he had active end stage hemangiosarcoma. She was told we would be very lucky if we got a month, most likely we would only get a couple weeks. He made it over three months from that end stage point, without any surgery and he was happy and active up until the very end.

In the past I feel like I was lucky if I could get over three months with early diagnosed hemangiosarcoma even if we did surgery to remove the spleen. That is how aggressive this cancer is. And from my experience there is not a good western option for treating it.

Since writing this article, I have since seen mixed results. I still have dogs who only get three months and because of herbal supply issues I’ve had to change my protocol

Steve has taken dogs over a year with his protocol even without surgery and that is very impressive. I have not had a dog I’ve been able to take over a year in my practice yet. I hope I will someday! I do have a cat who is three years out from hemangiosarcoma diagnosis without tumor removal and happy and healthy (as of 7/2017). She is also 18 years old!

So how do we treat this?

I am going to stop here and say you need a holistic vet on board. I use Vit A/D at a dose that can cause kidney failure if not used correctly. This needs to be used under the management of a veterinarian. But first…

To remove the spleen or not to remove the spleen.
I always, always pushed spleen removal in the past because I found most dogs did not make it past a month if you didn’t. The tumors would rupture and they would bleed out and die. Many made it much less time. My thoughts are changing on that a bit because of Wilbur and having a protocol which actually seems to prevent bleed outs. I would still say that in a healthy dog where it appears the bulk of the cancer is in the spleen, that spleen removal is the way to go. However in the very old, the very debilitated, or in those that have cancer in multiple organs I am starting to lean against it. This is of course going to be something to discuss with your vet and any other caregivers involved in your dog’s life.

Here is the protocol I use. Thank you Steve Marsden!

  1. Acupuncture – every two weeks or more often. This keeps everything moving, helps with discomfort, slows down the cancer and boosts the immune system.
  2. A cancer diet – See Diets for cancer in cats and dogs
  3. Yunnan Baiyao – not only does it control bleeding but also seems to slow this cancer down. I double the dose for dogs with hemangiosarcoma
  4. Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang or the root formula Xiao Chai Hu Tang which I use quite often for cancer. I use Chai Hu Jia Long Mu Li Tang for animals who run very hot and Xiao Chai Hu Tang for the majority of dogs.
  5. IP6 – this supplement is important in stimulating the immune system’s natural killer cells to destroy cancer tissue. It is an antioxidant and has effects in inhibiting cancer cell growth and division. Not much research has been done in humans with this supplement but a lot of cancer studies have been done in animals.
    I dose dogs at 800-1600mg twice a day when I use this supplement.
  6. Turkey Tail or I’m Yunity mushroom supplements have been show to increase survival times in dogs with hemangiosarcoma. I use Turkey Tail but the studies were done on I’m Yunnity’s product. I find I’m Yunnity is about 3-4 times the price of the best Turkey Tail you can buy.
  7. More then any other cancer I work with I think this is the most important one to make sure you have a good holistic vet on board. I know, I know I have said that a few times already. Please see my article How to find a good holistic vet.

    So how do we prevent this cancer? I don’t know that we know for sure. There is definitely a breed/genetic componant especially in golden retrievers. I urge my clients with golden retrievers to follow cancer prevention tips in How to Prevent Cancer. I also have had my golden retriever dog parents adding in 1/4 teaspoon of an herb called Red Root once a day. This herb helps with splenic congestion and lymph node drainage. It makes sense to me that it might help prevent this cancer but only time will tell.

    As with all articles on this blog please check with your animal’s veterinarian before making any changes in their care or adding any supplements or herbals.

    Back to Integrative and Holistic Treatments for Cancer in Cats and Dogs.

    This article is dedicated to beautiful Wilbur – may you be young and free of cancer where you are now.

How to medicate your cat or dog

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Ok let’s start with dogs first since they are the easiest.

  • Many dogs will happily eat herbs or pills in their food. This is especially true if they eat wet food. If your dog is on just dry food then consider adding enough wet to hide the pills or herbs in.
  • If they will not eat pills in food, Greenies Pill Pockets are the way to go. They are little treats with a hole in the center to hide the pill in.
  • Another way to give pills is with a little treat food such as peanut butter, cream cheese, a slice of luncheon meat or a piece of hot dog. Push the pill into the center and make sure it is wrapped with food.
  • For powder herbs I often have people put them in capsules and then use one of the above techniques. You can buy flavored capsules from, which many dogs will eat straight. See Capsuline flavored pet capsules
    For small/medium dogs (miniature poodle and larger) a size “0” capsule works best. For medium to large dogs (sheltie and larger) I like “00”. Very small dogs usually need a “2” size capsule and cats need a “3” or “4”.
  • There are many capsule making machines out there and believe me they make a huge difference when you are stuffing many capsules. My favorite is the The Capsule Machine. It comes in a “0” and “00” size, works well and is about $25-30.
  • Liquids and compounding can come in handy. These days compounding pharmacies can make just about anything in a liquid with a meat flavor. If you are using herbs see if there is a glycerin tincture variety, which is sweet, and many dogs take well. Tinctures work especially well in small dogs.
  • In some dogs just pushing the pills down their mouth is the fastest and easiest way to give a medication.

Now on to the cats!

  • While I have meet cats that will eat pills and herbs in food, most will not. If your cat has a hearty appetite give it a try.
  • Cat who like treats will sometimes take Pill Pockets.
  • If your cat needs herbs and you can find a glycerin tincture that is usually the way to go. If not capsules with powdered herbs or tea pills are often the best choice.
  • For drugs, if there is a long lasting injection available I highly recommend it. I think cats often do better with injections because they are less likely to upset their stomach and then you do not have to give something once or twice a day.
  • Once again most drugs can be compounded into liquids, which have a meat flavor. Sometimes these are easier to give to cats, however some cats are easier to pill, once the pilling technique is learned.
  • Some medications can be compounded into a form that can be rubbed on the inside of a cat’s ear and absorbed through the skin. Talk to your vet about this option. The down side to this kind of medication is that sometimes it is hard to get a proper dose this way.
  • I find pilling cats by hand to be the easiest if you need to give pills however some people prefer a Pill Gun which pop the pills into the back of the mouth. Many people prefer to rub the pills in butter before giving them so they slide down easier and have a pleasant taste.

Cats and cancer – some thoughts before you treat

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Cats, yes let me talk about the cats. I have four of them myself who share my home and they are wonderful lovely beings. This is not an article about how to treat specific cancers in cats – for that see my book Integrative and Alternative Methods for treating cancer in cats and dogs. This is an article about things we need to consider in cats and how they really are not just small dogs.

When it comes to cancer in cats they are a lot harder to treat than the dogs. There are a couple reasons for this. One is that I think cats hide their cancer more than dogs do. They really don’t let you know they are sick until it is pretty involved. And cancer is harder to treat when it is advanced.

However I think the largest reason they are hard to work with is that most cats hate medications. They spit them out, they run away from you and they know if you put something in their food! Ok so yes I have worked with some cats that you can put things in their food and they will still eat but most will not, especially if they feel sick. I have had people in tears in my office because their cats have decided that they hate them because they are trying to put all these things down their throats.

Because of this sometimes we make the decision to not treat them with anything or just with acupuncture. It really comes down to quality of life. It is important that we don’t make the end of their life miserable.

  • I have found that in most cats I get, at most, three things I can give orally. More than that and I find you start getting reactions and cats spitting things out and hating their people. There are some cats that can do more than three but not that many.

    Because of this I really hate to see folks surfing the internet and buying up every herbal in sight and trying to give them. Yes, yes I know that is how you got here and I appreciate you being here but if I can give you one piece of advice it would be to find a holistic vet to work with who can help direct you to the one or two or three things that will work the best for your cat, not someone else’s cat.

    The other thing I have found is that if I can either use glycerine tinctures and combine herbals so that there is only one thing to give or figure out what is going to work the very best that can really help. Sometimes this ends up being a western drug, sometimes an herbal. Sometimes we can do both.

    Above all else I don’t want cats to be in pain so sometimes this is a pain drug. Sometimes it is possible to give them injections, even better. Many people think they can’t give injections to their cats but really most cats do fine for injections and it is so much easier than getting something down their throat.

    Some medications can also be made into a form that can be applied to the ear and is absorbed through the skin. This can also be an excellent option for cats.

  • Fluids can go a long way in making cats feel better, if they are not drinking or eating well. These are given under the skin with a rather large needle but once again most cats don’t mind. They can help to increase energy, help them to eat better and help them feel better overall if there is a dehydration issue.
  • Acupuncture can be a wonderful therapy for cats. Most casts like it and most importantly it does not have to go down their throat. Acupuncture can help slow cancer down and help with pain, appetite and energy.
  • Eating is also very important. Many cats that are sick are quite picky with food. I love to see these guys on a homemade or high protein canned but really I want them to eat. So if they aren’t eating, a little tuna, a little salmon, baby food, whatever it takes. Get them eating. They will not feel well if they don’t. Sometimes we use appetite stimulants if they will not eat.
  • Last let me say a few words about surgery and chemo and radiation.

    First surgery. Cats don’t always do as well as dogs with it, if you are doing surgery internally. They usually do quite well with surgeries to remove cancer on the surface and also do very well with amputations. Bone cancer and fibrosarcomas need to be removed if possible. With abdominal and especially with thoracic surgeries, really weigh the pros and cons and ask a lot of questions about recovery.

    Chemotherapy and radiation. Once again I feel like these are harder on cats. Chemo can be very effective for some lymphoma cases and often 1-3 treatments can put them in remission. Radiation can be very effective for certain surface tumors. Other than that. I really do believe that if the prognosis is not glowing or if they will need many, many treatments they do not do well.

Cats often have a sense of their own mortality. They may decide they don’t want extensive medical intervention. I really think that is ok. It saddens me to see the animals I work with die but I do believe that cats often times know when their time is close and are at peace with that.

I think more than anything, when it comes to the kitties, the most important thing is to look deep into your heart and do what is right for them. Not what the doctors say, not what is right for you, not what anyone says on their website or in their book. Sometimes they are ready to fight and live and sometimes it is time to keep them as comfortable as possible for what time they have here with us and then help them peacefully pass on.