Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Is the sky falling down? Fireworks and your animal friend.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Soon we will celebrate July 4th. Unfortunately for many of our animal friends this can also be a stressful time because of the loud fireworks that many people set off. For many animals, fireworks can seem like the world is ending and every year animals injury themselves by trying to escape out of houses or by running away and getting lost or hit by cars.

If you have an animal who is afraid of fireworks or a new animal in your household this is a good time to be home with them if at all possible. Here are some things you can do to avoid stress and injury to your furry companion. Not everything works for every animal and many of these suggestions can be used in combination. Some animals get such severe anxiety that they need to be sedated with medication, so if your animal falls under that category this is the time to call your veterinarian. Most of the suggested products below can be purchased at natural pet supply stores or online by clicking on the links.

  1. Put on loud music or turn up the television to cancel out the noise. If your animal is prone to stress I would suggest classical or other calming music.
  2. Use pheromone sprays such as Feliway for cats and D.A.P. aka Dog Appeasing Pheromone for dogs to calm them down. The comfort zone products are the same as the vet products that are called just Feliway and DAP but are cheaper and can be bought at pet supply stores.
  3. Spray a natural lavender product around the house. Lavender can be very calming but make sure you use a natural product and not one full of chemicals. Do not spray directly on your animal.
  4. Bach flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy can be very helpful for stressed animals. These are homeopathic in nature and very safe for even the oldest of animals. Put a few drops in their mouth or on the ear and a few drops in all the drinking bowls in the house.
  5. My Kingdom of Basil Calm and Peaceful formula is great for taking the edge off anxiety in dogs. Animals’ Apawthecary’s Tranquility Blend works well for anxiety in both cats and dogs. However check with your veterinarian if your animal is on any medications or has any major health issues before using these.
  6. Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt , or Anxiety Wrap can help your dog if they have problems with anxiety from fireworks. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work.

    It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. Wearing the shirt enhances your dog’s sense of their own body and makes them feel more confident in their movements and behavior. You can use a snug fitting human T-shirt, a Thundershirt , or an anxiety wrap.

  7. If you are home, talk to your animal calmly and rub them gently. If they become agitated try to stay calm. Your stress will only make them more stressed.
  8. Make sure all windows and doors are closed. Do not leave your animal outside.

Have a wonderful new year and thank you for visiting!

Mast Cell Tumors Grade 3 and internal mast cell cancer – finding the right herbal treatments for your dog

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

I told myself I couldn’t write an article on the more aggressive mast cell tumors (grade 3) and internal mast cell cancers. Yes, but sometimes you realize that you need to try to get the information out there even if it is difficult. For lower grade 1 and 2 tumors and prevention see Mast Cell Tumors of the Skin – holistic approaches.

Why are more aggressive mast cell cancers difficult to write about? The main reason is that they present very differently dog to dog, they spread differently and the herbals I use to treat them can vary quite a bit dog to dog.

Before I start one quick comment. Grading of disease is subjective. There are certain signs that pathologist look at to grade tumors but it doesn’t always carry with it how aggressive a tumor will be. I have seen grade three mast cells where removal was cure and grade 1 mast cells that went on to spread through the body. So all is not lost if your dog is diagnosed with a more aggressive grade of this cancer. Each dog’s cancer is individual, like the herbals used.

So the must dos for these cancers

  1. I always recommend that grade three tumors be removed if possible and your dog’s health will allow. Because there tumors are usually more highly aggressive, it is better to not watch and wait. And herbals are going to work so much better if the tumor can be reduced to microscopic levels.
  2. Acupuncture – you know me, I’m the acupuncturist. However, I am the acupuncturist who has seen so many dogs with cancer live wonderful full lives in spite of diagnosis and those who only had a few months live them better and without pain.
  3. Cancer Diet – this is a must for these guys. No grain, least processed and lots of meat. See You are what you eat a fighting cancer machine.
  4. Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang with E Zhu and San Leng – this is my main go to herbal for lower grade disease. I also use it for most of the more aggressive tumors as well (although not all). If the tumor is in the skin or may or has traveled to the lungs this is a must
  5. Artemisinin – once again a must in almost all the disease I treat. If you have read any of my other articles you will know this is one of my favorite supplements to fight cancer.

From here it gets tricky but please continue along – the following I mix and match depending on how they fit the dog and how the cancer presents.

  • Xiao Chai Hu Tang – this is a must for any dog with internal mast cell cancer in the organs. It can also be helpful for cancer which has traveled into the lymphatic system, the more aggressive grade three tumors, cancer in the lungs and/or any dog who has a disconnect between their front and back end. Click on the link for more information about this supplement
  • Si Miao San – I don’t use a lot of Si Miao San for cancer but I get animals I treat where it fits very well and then it is useful. It works best for dogs who are prone to inflammation and inflammatory diseases, sun seekers who run hot and pant a lot, dogs who are prone to itchy red bellies and dogs who carry a lot of dampness like the pits and bulldogs. This one will also help for cancer in the lymphatics.
  • Hoxsey Like Formula/Cancer Detox Support – A must if the tumor can not be removed or is highly aggressive and there are signs of spread after removal.
  • IP-6 -one of the supplements I sometimes use. This one seems to work well for mast cell cancer that is grade three, internal, or where grade 2s can not be removed completely.
  • Yunnan Baiyao A must for any internal cancer with a risk of bleeding

I highly recommend finding an herbalist to work with. I see dogs that don’t match exactly what I have written above, acupuncture is awesome and there is nothing to replace having a guide in all this.

As with all supplements and herbals, please check with your animal’s regular vet before using this herbal.

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

Infrared light therapy for kidney failure, incontinence and arthritis in dogs and cats

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

In Chinese medicine we often use a moxa stick for when we need to drive cold out of an area or to improve blood flow. Moxa is a mixture of mugwort and other herbs that are made into a charcoal stick which can be heated and lets off infrared light. Moxa is then used over acupuncture needles or points. Many of my clients have seen me use moxa in the clinic. With our animal friends you need to use caution because you are holding a charcoal hot stick and it is important to not burn our animal friends or set hair on fire.

Many times I want to use moxa treatments more often than I am treating an animal and a good way to have people get a similar action is with an infrared light. These lights can be purchased in the reptile section of pet stores and are usually 50 or 75 watts or from Never get a bulb over 75 watts as you can easily burn your dog or cat. I have people buy the bulbs and then put the bulb in a clamp lamp. Many people already have a clamp lamp around the house or you can buy one from home depot or the hardware store or more expensive ones at the pet store.

What conditions can infrared light help with?

  1. Kidney failure in cats is the number one place I have people use infrared light therapy. I only use infrared light for ischemic kidney failure, not inflammatory kidney failure. Most older cats with kidney failure have the ischemic type. If you are unsure see Kidney Failure in Cat – How Chinese Medicine and Diet Can Help. Infrared light helps to open up blood circulation into the kidneys and wake up kidney cells that are still living but have inadequate blood flow. I have had cats that have reverted back to normal kidney blood work in as little as 2-3 acupuncture and heat treatments. Of course this depends on the cat and how damaged the kidneys are and how long they have been damaged. Most cats love heat therapy!
  2. Incontinence in dogs – usually with incontinence I use a combination of infrared therapy, herbs and acupuncture. Heat therapy is however a large part of my treatments especially in young dogs. In Chinese medicine we consider incontinence in young female dogs to be cold that has gotten into the bladder during spay surgery. With acupuncture, herbs and infrared light therapy you are driving that cold out of the body. And yes it does work in about 80% of young dogs who can be gotten off western medication and live out their lives without incontinent issues. In the older dogs incontinence is considered a deficiency of kidney yang or kidney fire. Infrared therapy over the kidney yang points can help to stoke this fire and help them to hold urine. See Incontinence – stoking the blue fire sea serpent.
  3. Infrared heat can really help with arthritis support in older dogs and cats. Infrared light therapy helps improve blood circulation, drives out cold and helps with pain control. I use moxa or infrared light over any joints that are sore and often along the back. Infrared heat can also be used over the kidney points to improve energy.

So how do I use infrared heat therapy?

    1. Buy a infrared light bulb, 50 or 75 watts. Once again do not use a light over 75 watts!. Use a clamp lamp from the hardware store or the pet store. Here is a link to buy an infrared bulb on Clamp lamps can also be purchased through

One of my patients, Lucy, enjoying her infrared light at home

  1. I usually have people start out with using the bulb once or twice a week for 5-10 minutes at a time. You can do it daily if your dog or cat likes it. Also if they really like it you can set up a bulb a few feet above your dog or cat’s bed and let them sit under it and “self-medicate”. Never leave the bulb on when you are not home and if you animal can not walk or move do not use this option as it is important that they can move away if they get too hot.
  2. When you are using the bulb on your animal, hold the clamp lamp at least a light bulb width away from their body. Move it slowly in figure eights or hold it for 30 seconds or less at a time and then move it slightly to make sure you do not overheat an area. If the bulb is further away this is not as important.
  3. For kidney failure or incontinence you want to use the infrared light over the area of the acupuncture point ming men (aka GV4). The best way to find this point is to find the most caudal part of the last rib and then make a perpendicular line to the spine from it and follow it up to the spine. Ming men is the point in the middle of the spine that forms a right angle with the caudal point of the last rib. Here is a photo of a woman touching ming men in a horse, the area of her hand is where you want to focus your heat therapy.
  4. For arthritis therapy – use the same technique but work over joints and along the spine. Do not use heat therapy along the thoracic spine because there is a danger of using too much heat over the liver, which does not like to be hot. Do not worry about this if you are letting an animal “self medicate” and the bulb is up higher. I especially like the “self medicate” option for older cats who just love the heat.

A few precautions

  • If your animal is prone to seizures do not use infrared heat therapy without directions from a trained veterinarian. Used in the wrong place this treatment can potentially induce seizures in an animal prone to them.
  • If your animal has cancer do not use infrared therapy without the direct of a veterinarian. Absolutely never us it over a tumor.
  • If your animal gets worse from heat therapy – stop
  • If your animal runs very hot, gets overheated easily, or has large inflammed joints check with your veterinarian. This therapy can make these conditions worse if used incorrectly.
  • Do not use this therapy when it is very hot outside

I especially like this therapy in the fall and winter when the sessions are changing and that cold wind creeps into the joints of our old cats and dogs.

Treating weight loss in dogs and cats with cancer

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

It is very common for cats and dogs who have cancer to loss weight even when they are eating well. This is because the cancer is stealing their nutrients and not allowing the body to have what it needs. Weight loss in the face of a healthy appetite and proper nutrition is called cachexia.

There is a simple protocol I use to address this issue if it isn’t just an issue of appetite.

  1. Add in Cod Liver Oil or Fish Oil at 2-3X recommended dosage. I prefer the Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil. Cancer can not use fat and Omega 3 oils help to reverse cachexia.
  2. Feed 1-2 tablespoons of canned sweet potato or pumpkin at every meal for the average sized dog. Use a teaspoon for cats. This helps with digestion and helps them use the nutrients in their food better.
  3. Add in 1-2 eggs a day for the average sized dog or part of an egg for cats. Eggs are a very good source of 100% digestible protein. They can grow a baby chicken from two cells to a whole animal – pretty amazing when you think about it. Cooked or raw is fine. You can hard boil a dozen at a time and keep them in the refrigerator to make it easier.
  4. Consider feeding multiple meals a day or increase the amount of food. Feed grain free food if possible. This can help and probably seems obvious but doesn’t normally work on its own without using the above additions.
  5. There are some other herbal formulas that can help but they differ from animal to animal, so consider seeing a veterinary herbalist if the above doesn’t work.

If appetite is an issue then I recommend working with a holistic vet with acupuncture and herbs or consulting with your animal’s regular veterinarian about appetite stimulants and anti-nausea medications.

Prostate cancer in dogs – herbs and holistic support

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Prostate cancer wasn’t originally on my list when I began this book, as it is rare and I hadn’t treated a dog with it before. However I recently started treating a very energetic lab named Joey who has prostate cancer. He is one of the most rambunctious, friendly dogs I have met and oh so strong. His coat shines, his eyes sparkle, and he has the most powerful tail I have encountered. I swear he could fuel my whole house with it.

There is no way you would know he has cancer if you met him and he was diagnosed almost three months ago.

In dogs, prostate cancer is highly aggressive with the prognosis after detection often times being less than a month. Prostate cancer is fast to spread and also in a delicate area of the body. As the cancer grows it can block the urethra making peeing impossible. This is a disease of neutered male dogs, the one cancer that is more common in fixed dogs.

There are no good western treatments for prostate cancer in dogs. Surgery is usually impossible because of the location and the early spread of this cancer and radiation and chemotherapy add little time to a dog’s life. Because of this and the effectiveness of herbal therapies with this disease, holistic treatments are a good option.

A while back there was a product on the market to treat prostate cancer in people called PC-SPES. This herbal combination actually helped quite a few people but was taken off the market because of problems with contamination. I am not suggesting that you should use this product or some of the others that have replaced it but I do think it is worth considering the ingredients. It contains some of the same ingredients as in one of the main herbals I use for cancer, Xiao Chai Hu Tang and reishi mushrooms which are known to be quite effective again cancer.

This is my protocol against this deadly cancer (follow links for more information about herbals and links to buy on or other places)

  1. Acupuncture every two weeks if possible, every week if there are significant clinic signs. It is important to keep these guys peeing and acupuncture can help and also slow down the cancer.
  2. Xiao Chai Hu Tang – this is a great herbal for cancer especially when there is an obstruction in the abdomen like you get with an enlarged prostate. This formula will also help keep cancer out of the lungs
  3. Artemisinin – this compound helps to slow down cancer and prevent spread.
  4. Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang – cousin to Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang for the lower abdomen, this is a very effective formula for prostate and urinary bladder cancer, especially when they manifest with bloody urine. I add San Leng and E Zhu to mine for extra cancer fighting ingredients.
  5. Mushrooms – these really help with prostate cancer with their direct action against cancer and their ability to strengthen the immune system. I like Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, and Maitake. Make sure you use reishi for prostate cancer. These can be added to food or given as a supplement.
  6. Hoxsey like formula – This formula can be especially helpful in dogs with excess personalities and lots of energy. Do not use it in dogs that are old, thin or very sick.
  7. Diet for cancer – this is a most for any animal with cancer – see Diets for cancer in cats and dogs

Joey has already exceeded my main expectation which was to keep him happy and pain free. I don’t know what the future holds for him but I know he enjoys every day he is here and the more days we can give him the better.

As with all advice on this website please check with your dog’s primary veterinarian before starting any treatments or herbals.

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

How to treat liver tumors in dogs holistically and with herbs

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

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

How to find a good holistic vet to work with

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

The number one question I receive from people visiting this blog is “how to I find a good holistic vet to work with?” It is a good question!

Here are some suggestions and resources to do this

  • Ask your animal’s veterinarian From my experience there is not as large a divide between western medicine and holistic veterinary medicine in this country as there is in the human medical community. Part of the reason for this is that we are all veterinarians. I had a full western veterinary education and practiced it for six years before I learned acupuncture. I still use my western training daily. Because of this the mainstream vets trust us, they are less worried that we will do something that harms an animal or makes their treatments not work. I receive about half my patients through vet referrals. The vets that refer to me, know me, trust me and give me full access to their records and that makes it easier to coordinate treatments with them.
  • Take a visit to your local pet food store. I’m not talking the big box stores like Petco and Petsmart but your local independent stores or small chains. In Seattle these include Next to Nature, Mud Bay, All the Best, Pet Elements, and many more. Hopefully you have one in your area. These stores are very good at educating their staff on nutrition and options for people’s animals with disease conditions. They also hear stories from people all day long about their animals. They know the local practitioners and who is good. Ask them! They are always happy to share.
  • Ask people at the dog park or you meet walking dogs.The best referral is word of mouth. People love to share stories about their dogs and I think we just naturally want to recommend practitioners who have helped our animals.
  • Search holistic veterinarian or veterinary acupuncturist “your city” online. The internet got you here, it should help you with this also.
  • Use one of the tools from the various holistic veterinary societies.

Do all holistic veterinarians know acupuncture and other kinds of natural medicine? What is the best type of holistic veterinarian for my animal?

Most of us do not practice all holistic modalities, and even those with a wide area of systems they work with, usually have a few they are very good at and some that they just do a little of.

I consider myself a very good acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. I am a TCM or Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner. In addition I do some western herbal medicine, know something about supplements and vitamins, occasionally dip into homeopathy and flower essences and am pretty good at nutrition. I can not do chiropractics, do not know aryuvedic herbal medicine, and can not do classic homeopathy.

Because of this if you came to see me with your animal I would most likely recommend acupuncture and Chinese herbs because those are the two modalities that work best in my hands. If you went to someone who specialized in aryuvedic herbal medicine and homeopathy they would probably recommend a therapy that included those modalities.

Ever holistic vet is going to be a little different in their knowledge.

What is the difference between all these methods of treatment?

I am going to use mostly links to websites since there are so many good explanations already out there and then adds my own thoughts so please click on the links for more info.

  • Naturopathic medicine – I think of most naturopaths as using a combination of dietary therapy, supplements, vitamins and western herbals to cure disease and bring about balance in the body. In Washington state human Naturopaths are on the same level as MDs and can prescribe most drugs, do blood tests and do small surgical procedure. Of course veterinary naturopaths will be western veterinary doctors already.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine – This is the type of medicine I practice. It includes acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine used together in synergy. TCM also uses it’s own system of diagnosis that is very different than western medicine. Through TCM I am often able to fit many symptoms and diseases an animal is suffering from into one Chinese diagnosis and I find it easier to treat hard to diagnose and chronic conditions that western medicine has trouble with
  • Acupuncture There are many practitioners who practice acupuncture alone under the TCM system or practice acupuncture under a more western system. From my experience the best practitioners use TCM to diagnose and treat.
  • Botanical or Herbal Medicine There are many types of Botanical Medicine. The most common are
    • Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine – This is an Indian system of treating disease and dysfunction that also includes diet.
    • Western Herbal Medicine includes European, American, and Native American plant medicine.
    • Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine – see TCM above. Most Chinese herbal medicine uses herbal in combinations that work together so that the formula is not the sum of the herbals used but how the herbs react with either other. This makes it possible to use herbals that would be toxic alone by combining them with others which reduce their toxicity and also makes it possible to target herbs to a certain area of the body, among other things.
  • Homeopathy – Classic homeopathy is a very complex system and takes many years to learn. Many of us use more of a “cookbook form” of homeopathy.
  • Chiropractors – focus mainly on adjustments to the spine

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

Squamous cell carcinoma – holistic, herbal and integrative treatments in dogs and cats

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

The good news about squamous cell carcinoma is that it is very slow to metastasize; the bad news is that is locally very aggressive, eating through anything in its path. In addition because this cancer commonly occurs in the mouth, there isn’t a lot of space to easily remove it. While I see more squamous cell carcinoma in cats it also occurs in dogs.

White cats and black dogs

Most squamous cell carcinomas occur in the mouth. However it is also a common cancer on the ears and noses especially of white or light colored cats who go outside in the sun. Another very common spot for squamous cell is in the toes of dogs especially black toed dogs.

Squamous cell often starts with chronic irritation of infection. On the ears of cats it is often from repeated sunburn. In the mouth it is many times secondary to tooth issues and infections.

The prognosis with squamous cell carcinoma is very good if you can remove the whole tumor but unfortunately this is many times not possible. Without removal, the prognosis is pretty poor and these animals experience a lot of pain if it works it way into the bone. However there are therapies that can slow things down and significantly improve quality of life.

I am going to break this article into three sections and talk about squamous cell in toes, in the mouth and then a section on the other places squamous cell can form and a little about cats. Follow the links for more information about herbals and therapies.

Squamous cell on the toes of dogs

Most squamous cell carcinomas start on the toes as a broken nail or a non-healing infection in the nail bed. Often times a few rounds of antibiotics are prescribed before the cancer is diagnosed. I have only seen squamous cell carcinomas in black furred toes, however it is possible to get the disease in dogs of other colors also.

In some dogs squamous cell causes infection secondary to the cancer and is some animals it is chronic nail bed issues and infections, which cause it to develop.

The treatment of choice is to remove the toe as soon as the diagnosis is made. If the whole tumor can be removed then this is almost always curative.

Many dogs will be done at this point and can live normal lives however I have had some dogs who go on to form multiple cancers in other toes, usually this is because their immune system is not working correctly and also most likely has a genetic component.

Occasionally surgery is not an option to remove the toe because of poor health or heart conditions and then other treatments need to be used.

I treat a wonderful happy Gordon Setter named Hudson, known to most of those who love him as Huddie. He has lost three toes to this disease and also has Cushings disease, which makes his immune system not as strong as a normal dog.

With Hudson we have developed the following protocol, which I recommend for any dog who has had multiple squamous cell carcinomas in the toes.

  1. Remove toes as soon as diagnosis is made
  2. Artemisinin – I have found artemisinin to be very effective in slowing squamous cell down.
  3. Mushroom supplements – these help to strengthen the immune system and have anticancer properties. I recommend a supplement with a combination of Maitake, Shiitake, Reishi and Cordyceps mushrooms.
  4. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – this herbal helps to move blood down into the toes and extremities and also has some strong anti-cancer herbs.
  5. In Hudson’s case we also have him on long-term antibiotics. It seems like his squamous cell started with chronic nail bed infections that could not be cleared with antibiotics once they took hold. As much as I would prefer not to use long-term antibiotics, in his case I believe they are a good precaution. This is not a recommendation I make in every dog.
  6. Acupuncture – we know Hudson has a weak immune system so we try our best to strengthen what is there with monthly acupuncture.
  7. Cancer diet – see Diets for cancer in cats and dogs

So what about the dogs where toe removal is not an option? Here are some options

  1. These guys need pain control. Squamous cell is a very painful disease once it gets in the bone. Many times a multiple drug approach is needed
  2. Artemisinin – see above and link
  3. Acupuncture – can help to slow down progression of this disease and help with pain. If there is active cancer treatment should be at least every two weeks.
  4. Xian Fang Huo Ming Yin – this can be a powerful formula for treating active squamous cell carcinoma in the toes but should be used with caution, as it is very cooling. Never use this in a very debilitated, weak or cold dog and always check with a holistic vet before using it. (no article up yet).
  5. Hoxsey like formula with boneset or its gentle cousin Cancer Detox Support – this can also be a very powerful formula against squamous cell, like XFHMY this formula is very cooling. See link for more information. Boneset should be added to this formula to control bone pain.
  6. Antibiotics – many times there are secondary infections in these dogs. Antibiotics are often needed.
  7. Prednisone – this western drug can help slow this cancer down although it also has some side effects. Talk to your vet about if it is a good option for your dog.
  8. Cancer diet – See Diets for cancer in cats and dogs

So on to Squamous cell carcinoma in the mouths of cats and dogs.

This is a horrible place to get a squamous cell carcinoma. The only way to get a cure is to remove a fourth of the jaw if it is in the lower jaw and there is no such option if it is in the upper jaw. Because this disease is so painful many animals will not eat and that is usually the factor that ends up ending their life. That being said I have seen animals do well for about a year after diagnosis, with integrative treatments. Usually dogs do a little better than cats, who usually don’t make it a year. This really varies animal to animal and involves being able to medicate an animal with a painful mouth.

How can we help these animals with squamous cell in the mouth?

First let me start off by saying in cats I often times just rely on injectable antibiotics, steroids and pain meds plus acupuncture. The amount of pain with oral administration of herbals is not worth any benefit we get from my experience. Occasionally I recommend oral pain meds as well. Below anything oral is mainly for dogs.

  1. Consider removing part of the lower jaw if it is in that area. I know it is a large and very harsh sounding surgery but these animals usually do quite well. This surgery is not for everyone so if you can’t do it there are other options below.
  2. Prednisone – I know it is a western drug and yes it has side effects but it really slows things down and also stimulates appetite in the process. This is one place I highly recommend considering it.
  3. Artemisinin – this herbal can really help slow things down. I treated a little Pomeranian named Panda who lived quite well for over a year on just Artemisinin, antibiotics as needed and pain meds.
  4. Acupuncture– can help with appetite, pain and slow this cancer down. Usually treatments need to be no more than two weeks apart.
  5. Hoxsey like formula with boneset – can help to slow this cancer down and help with bone pain.
  6. Pain medication – these animals need pain control!
  7. Antibiotics as needed. Having squamous cell in your mouth is like having a giant ulcerative wound open sometimes even up into the nasal passages. Antibiotics are sometimes used long-term and sometimes just as needed.
  8. Soft food and a cancer diet. These animals need to eat so give them what they will eat and use appetite stimulants if needed. Use very soft, easy to swallow foods. If they will eat a cancer fighting diet even better. See Diets for cancer in cats and dogs

Squamous cell other places in the body

Squamous cell can also arise other places in the body. The ear pinnae of white cats are a very common place and also the tip of the nose. Many people will make the decision to remove the ear pinnae and get a cure. For the nose usually a few radiation treatments is curative. Usually squamous cell on the pinnae or nose is slower moving then in the mouth and sometimes if the cat is old the decision will be made to just leave it. When squamous cell occurs other places, surgical removal is the treatment of choice if at all possible. If surgery or radiation is not an option then the treatments above can be used.

An extra note on cats

In many cats giving more than three drugs or herbs can cause side effects and reduced appetite. Depending on how many western treatments a cat is on usually I only recommend adding in two or three herbals and focusing on diet and acupuncture to supplement their effects.

Some cats cannot tolerate anything going in their mouth if they have cancer there in which case I only treat with acupuncture to try to make them have quality of life while they are here. If only one thing can be given it should be pain medication as this is a very painful disease.

As with all articles on this website please check with your animal companion’s veterinarian before starting any herbals or supplements. This disease more than any other of the cancers I have talked about really needs an integrative approach to treatment involving western drugs and interventions.

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

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – Chemotherapy herbal support for dogs and cats

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang is one of the formulas I take myself when I’ve been under too much stress and my adrenals are a little deficient. It has a deep root flavor with just a hint of citrus – yum!

In my practice, this is the main formula I use for chemotherapy support. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang helps to support digestion, the immune system, blood cell counts, and adrenal function in the body and at the same time has some strong anti-cancer herbs.

So what is in Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang?

  • Huang Qi – Astragulus
  • Bai Zhu – Atractylodes
  • Gan Cao (sometimes Zhi Gan Cao is used instead) – Licorice
  • Ren Shen – Ginseng
  • Chen Pi – Tangerine peel
  • Dang Gui – Chinese angelica root
  • Chai Hu – Bupleurum
  • Sheng Ma – Black cohosh

In 2007 a study was done out of the University of Minnesota by K. HWa Choi DVM. This study looked at dogs being treated with chemotherapy (including doxorubicin) for lymphoma and the side effects from treatment. It was found that dogs administered BZYQT had much less diarrhea and vomiting then dogs getting just chemotherapy. They also did much better than dogs getting chemotherapy and western drugs to control vomiting and diarrhea. In addition the dogs on BZYQT had better appetites. BZYQT also significantly raised white and red blood cell counts. Overall the dogs getting chemotherapy and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang did much better than dogs just getting chemotherapy or those being treated with western drugs for the side effects.

Not bad for an herbal therapy!

There has also been some success in the herbal veterinary community with this herbal to help manage hemangiosarcoma.

So how does it work?

Bupleurum has some amazing cancer fighting abilities. Bupleurum can induce apoptosis or cell death in cancer cells and inhibit cancer cell growth and division. Many studies have been done on this plant especially for lung cancer.

Many of the herbs in this formula work in pairs. Astragulus and ginseng strongly support the immune system and have direct anti-cancer effects. Ginseng and licorice support adrenal function. Dang Gui with Huang Qi stimulates the bone marrow to increase blood cell production. Licorice and tangerine support digestion.

This formula also works to increase peripheral circulation and can help to prevent some skin and nail inflammatory disorders. Many animals with deficient immune function also do well on this formula. I also often use it to support animals with deficient adrenal function (Addison’s disease). Some of its other uses are for incontinence and prolapse.

In Chinese medicine terms Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang lifts up sinking qi, supports the liver and spleen and tonifies lung qi.

When do I use this formula?

Any dog or cat getting chemotherapy which includes the drug doxorubicin also known as adriamycin should be on this formula. This drug is one with the most potential for side effects and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang can help reduce these.

I also use it for dogs or cats on other chemotherapeutic agents who are having side effects or problems maintaining cell counts.

In addition I will sometimes use this formula in very debilitated animals to help them gain strength and balance. I currently have one dog I treat who has a weakened immune system and is prone to getting nail bed infections that turn to cancer. He had lost three toes to this process before we found a protocol which included his formula.

How is Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang dosed?

I usually dose it twice a day and use powdered whole herbs in my patients. I use 1/8 teaspoon once or twice a day for cats and small dogs, 1/4 teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 25 lbs, and 1/2-1 teaspoon twice day for larger dogs. For tea pills use 2,4, or 8 twice a day for the above sizes of animals.

If I am using a tincture I use 0.2ml per 5lb once a day.

Many companies will substitute Codonopsis (Dang Shen) for ginseng (Ren Shen). If at all possible use a product that has ginseng as it is a much stonger and more powerful herb than codonopsis.

You can now buy Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang from my etsy store, Kingdom of Basil

As with all articles on this site, please check with your animal’s vet before starting any herbal treatments.

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

Acupuncture for animals with cancer – stoking the healing power within

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Much of the year I am so booked up that I am not able to take new patients but my assistant Diane knows just the right thing to say to make me sneak in an extra special one. “Lena, there is this amazing dog I meet at the clinic who was just diagnosed with cancer, is there any way you think we can work them into the schedule?”

I can’t say enough about the power of acupuncture for animals with cancer! Of all the work I have done with this disease I am still amazed at how well acupuncture can help these wonderful animals live with cancer.

I love being able to make animals feel better and it brings tears to my eyes to be able to help the people I work with have their beloved animals for longer. Currently I have a number of animals who are living, and living well, more then a year out, with cancer that should have taken them in a matter of months.

When I first became an acupuncturist I took over doing acupuncture for an amazing dog named Rooney. Rooney had been diagnosed with bladder cancer about 4 months before I meet her and she was supposed to be gone within three months of her diagnosis, even with the chemotherapy she was getting. I started treating her every week and over that time was blessed to get to work with one of the most amazing dogs I would ever meet and her wonderful moms. Rooney was not supposed to live but she made it almost three years with chemotherapy and acupuncture. She was rarely sick during that time and she lived a very normal dog life up until her last month. See Rooney’s Wisdom.

Rooney is unusual in that I only worked with acupuncture with her and not herbs. For most of the animals I treat I recommend an integrated approach that combined acupuncture, herbs and often times some western treatments as well.

The wonderful thing about acupuncture is that there are not major side effects like with chemotherapy, surgery and even some of the herbs I use. Because of this, it can be used in some of the most sick and old animals. Although I find it works best if it can be started before an animal is severely debilitated.

So what are the main benefits of acupuncture?

  • Increased longevity – almost all the animals I treat for cancer end up living much longer than the normal prognosis, usually at least double prognosis time. In some animals this ends up being years beyond prognosis. For a treatment with no major side effects this is pretty amazing.
  • Increased well being and energy – acupuncture can increase energy and help to regulate the hormones in the body. Cancer can make animals feel sick – acupuncture helps to reverse this. This is the most important benefit I see with acupuncture treatments. Animals are happy again and people feel like they have had their beloved companion returned to them.
  • Decreased pain – cancer can be painful. Acupuncture can significantly reduce that pain and help to reduce side effects to some of the pain drugs. I had a dear little bunny I treated who had a very painful spinal tumor. With acupuncture every two weeks we were able to keep him happy for about six months.
  • Immune system support – cancer is a failure of the immune system. Acupuncture stimulates the immune system so that it can fight the cancer better.In some animals, I have actually seen tumors shrink with just acupuncture alone.
  • Increased blood circulation – to the cells you want to get blood. There is some thought that acupuncture can help to pull blood away from cancer cells and give it to the parts of the body that need it. Often times with cancer the body ends up without enough nutrients and energy because the cancer takes it all. Acupuncture helps to reverse this.
  • Increased appetite – some animals with cancer feel so sick that they don’t want to eat. Acupuncture can help to stimulate appetite.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation support – both these therapies are very hard on the immune system and body. Acupuncture helps to keep white blood cell numbers up during these therapies and helps decrease the side effects. If white blood cells drop too low, chemotherapy needs to be stopped. Acupuncture can usually raise blood cell numbers within a week.

How often should an animal with cancer be treated?

I recommend scheduling acupuncture treatments at least every two weeks. In some very sick animals I will recommend weekly treatments and I usually start with weekly treatments for a few weeks. I have a few animals I have treated every three weeks and I had one dog who did very well with monthly treatments but over all I have found animals do much better with weekly or every other week treatments. The acupuncturist you work with may have different experiences.

Where do I find a veterinary acupuncturist to treat my animals?

The best tool I have found is through the International Veterinary acupuncture Society’s website. Find a veterinary acupuncturist in your area.

I should note that all good veterinary acupuncturists are not on this list. I’m not because the certification program I went through is not recognized by IVAS. In addition someone being listed just means they are certified by IVAS or one of its recognized programs, not how experienced or good they are. Ask around in your area to see if there is someone that is highly recommended. Ask your vet, at the local pet store, at the dog park, at the local groomer or among friends and co-workers or search the Internet.

When is the best time to start acupuncture?

Now! Really as soon as possible is best. It is much easier for me to keep an animal from getting sick then try to make them better after they are very ill.

My normal vet or oncologist says I should not do acupuncture or alternative medicine with my animal? What should I do?

Most vets I have worked with are very open to what I do. In my state and in most states you need to be a veterinarian to do acupuncture on animals. I think that helps us have more support from the mainstream vet community. Since most vets don’t have training in acupuncture or herbal medicine sometimes they just need a little communication. I am always happy to talk to someone’s regular vet or oncologist if there is a conflict when I am working with their animal. Hopefully your veterinary acupuncturist will be willing to also. While I am not always as current on western treatments for cancer, I am usually much more current on the herbal studies and the studies about combining western and alternative medicine.

Should I use acupuncture with chemotherapy?

Yes! I have found that animals getting acupuncture with chemotherapy not only do better with fewer side effects, but also live longer.

But I don’t want my animal to suffer longer? What if acupuncture helps then to live longer but they are miserable during that time?

I have found that the animals I treat with acupuncture live well and die fast when it is their time. The quality of life while they are alive is usually quite good and they are happy. I have found that when it is time to go they tend to get sick quickly and the passing seems to be easier for both the people involved and the animals because it is so obviously time for them to pass on.

What if I can’t find a veterinary acupuncturist in my area?

While I do think acupuncture works better than acupressure, I think there is a lot of benefit to acupressure and it really can make a large difference in an animal’s health. See if you can find someone who does acupressure treatments or learn yourself. I will publish an article in the near future about how to do acupressure for cancer.

Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute has a tool to find a practitioner and offer classes in acupressure.
Find an animal acupressure practitioner.
There are also many good books out there on acupressure. Focus with stimulating the immune system and working with lung, kidneys and spleen. Here are some of my favorites:
Four Paws, Five Directions: A Guide to Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs
Acu-Cat: A Guide to Feline Acupressure
The Well-Connected Dog: A Guide to Canine Acupressure

I think there will come a time in my life where we will look back on some of the harsher treatments we use for cancer as being somewhat barbaric. Many of the new treatments emerging work by getting the body to fight cancer itself. There was an amazing article I just read about using modified white blood cells to get rid of leukemia. New leukemia treatment exceeds wildest expectations. Acupuncture fits nicely in with some of these emerging new therapies.

Acupuncture supports the body and helps it to do what it should have been able to in the first place, fight cancer. Most importantly it helps to support our animal friends in their journey through cancer treatment. It helps them to live and love living and gives us more time with them. For me there is no greater joy than seeing that sparkle come back into a dog’s eyes that says I choose life!

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