Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Managing Cushings disease in dogs holistically

Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Over the years of practicing holistic medicine I was gone from thinking I could help control the symptoms of Cushings disease in dogs to now having dogs in my care who are completely controlled with diet, herbs and acupuncture.

What do you do if your dog has Cushings disease?

  1. Pull all grains and most of the carbohydrates out of their diet. Feed them the least processed diet that they can tolerate. Raw high protein diets are best. If raw is not possible feed them a grain free, potato free, high protein, high quality canned food such as Instinct. Home cooked diets like the diet I use for animals with cancer are also great. See Diets for cancer in cats and dogs. The same dietary approach to cancer is also good for Cushings disease. Do not feed these dogs dry food!

    I have found that changing diet alone can make a huge difference in these dogs so if you can only work with diet you can still help your animal friend.

  2. Treat the dampness and inflammation. This is the best way to get their endocrine system back to normal regulation. In most dogs, the best Chinese herbal formula for this is called Si Miao San. This formula helps to decrease inflammation in the body, regulates insulin, and improves digestion. I sometimes add corn silk to this formula to help with problems with insulin resistance. Not surprisingly this is also one of the main formulas I use for diabetes. Si Miao San is not always the best formula for all dogs with Cushings. Si Miao San works best for the hot, panting, overweight Cushings dog. When I work with thin, weak dogs there are other herbals that work better. If at all possible find a veterinary herbalist to help you with this.
  3. Acupuncture. I have so much more success in those dogs I can treat with needles. Acupuncture helps to regulate the endocrine system and reduce inflammation in the body. I have found that many dogs will only need acupuncture about every two months once we get them stable unless we are treating other health issues as well.
  4. Ginkgo biloba can be helpful in treating Cushings. Ginkgo slows the release adrenal hormone and can help to control Cushings disease. I do not use this herb with all the dogs I treat as I have found it not to be as effective as Si Miao San, acupuncture and diet change. However it does seem to be the herb that can be added to the protocol if you are not getting as much symptom control as you think you should be. It is very much my tipping point herb and sometimes it makes the difference between good control and mediocre control of this disease.

    Ginkgo is also a great herb for helping with dementia, high blood pressure, and protecting against heart disease and stroke. Because of this I often recommend it in my older animals. One of my favorite ginkgo product is made my Animal Apawthecary and also contains hawthorn. It is called Animals’ Apawthecary Hawthorn Plus
    . I also make a powder version of this formula called Heart and Brain Support through my etsy shop.

  5. Be aware that a natural approach can change the amount of Trilostane and other drugs that are needed to control this disease. Work with your vet to monitor signs of drug overdose if your dog is already on Trilostane or Lysodren, when they are being treated naturally. If your dog stops eating, becomes lethargic, or has sleep disturbance or vomiting and diarrhea contact your vet immediately. This could be a sign of overdose.

I have had a number of dogs who we have gotten completely off of Trilostane (the main drug to treat Cushings disease) or significantly reduced the dosage. If I can catch it early many dogs never need to use the western drugs.

One of my favorite dogs with Cushings disease is a cute little Cairn Terrier I treat named Clancy. He’s a fun little guy with a lot of spunk. We were able to catch his Cushings disease very early about a year and a half ago, just after he was diagnosed. His main symptoms were increase in weight, panting and that he was much more jumpy when touched and startled easily. He also drunk a lot of water and was always hungry. Through acupuncture, herbs and diet we have been able to keep Clancy happy and symptom free. Occasionally he will have a little flare up of symptoms but so far we have been able to treat those flare ups with acupuncture and some herbal and dietary changes. I’m hopeful that Clancy will never need Trilostane or other western drugs.

So what is Cushings disease?

If you have found this article you may already know about Cushings. For those of you that don’t here is a short explanation.

Cushings disease is caused by an overactive adrenal gland which produces too much adrenal hormone. Most of the time this is caused by a benign pituitary tumor in the brain which signals the adrenal to produce more hormone than it needs. Occasionally this is caused by an adrenal tumor in the actual gland. Usually with an adrenal tumor, removal is recommended. However with pituitary tumors removal is too difficult and the treatment of choice is to use a drug such as Lysodren or Trilostane which stop the production of adrenal hormone through destroying the cells that make it or blocking its release. This can be risky because if too much gland is destroyed or if too much hormone is blocked the animal can die, become seriously ill, or develop Addison’s disease (not enough adrenal hormone) which is much more dangerous. Both these drugs can permanently damage the adrenal glands.

The main symptoms of Cushings disease are a pot bellied appearance, excess hunger and water consumption, and hair loss on the sides. Many dogs have a tragic look to them. In addition Cushings disease can cause weakness and panting. These dogs have a weakened immune system and are prone to infections and cancers. People will often times describe their dogs with Cushings as more agitated and some dogs will have issues with sleeping through the night.

Here are a couple other good articles about Cushings disease and it’s treatment
Cushing disease
FDA cushings disease and Trilostane

An amazing things I recently learned about Cushings disease is that it appears to be closely related to type 2 diabetes. In fact there are those that believe that both diseases are the same syndrome, just manifesting differently. When brain scans were done of cats with insulin resistant type 2 diabetes, it was found that in those cats with insulin resistance had pituitary tumors characteristic of Cushings disease. Wow!
Prevelant of pituitary tumors among diabetic cats with insulin resistance

Both diseases seem to be induced by an overload of nutrients of the carbohydrate variety. Animals with Cushings disease and diabetes develop what is called metabolic syndrome. There body can not handle the amount of carbohydrates and high glycemic index ingredients in many of the processed diets we feed them. These high glycemic index diets cause high levels of inflammation in their bodies, which lead to problems in the endocrine system. This can lead to insulin resistance, development of pituitary tumors, or other inflammatory diseases.

You can pull up a great lecture on the subject of inflammation, diet and the endocrine system by one of my herbal teachers, Dr. Steve Marsden by following this link (brings up a PDF).
Management of inflammation using chinese herbs and diet

While I have not been able to get all dogs controlled without western drugs, usually we are at least able to significantly reduce clinical signs and/or reduce the dose of drugs needed to regulate this illness. In a disease with not many good safe options for treatment, I love having effective natural options to offer the animals I work with.

As with all advice offered on this website please check with your animal’s veterinarian before changing your animal’s medications or adding any herbals.

Si Miao San – slowing down cancer and inflammation

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Si Miao San or Four Marvels Powder is truly one of the workhorses of Chinese medicine. It is probably the most common formula I use. You see, Si Miao San is very good at treating inflammation and our animal companions have a lot of inflammatory disorders. This is my top formula for inflammatory bowel disease, allergic dermatitis, Cushings disease, and diabetes.

Please follow this link to buy Si Miao San from my etsy store Kingdom of Basil Si Miao San powder.

For more information on Cushings disease see my article Managing Cushings Disease in Dogs Holistically.

In Chinese medicine it treats damp heat and is a simple yet powerful little formula of four ingredients.

  • Huang Bai (phellodendron bark)
  • Yi Yi Ren (coix seed)
  • Cang Zhu (atractylodes rhizome)
  • Huai Niu Xi (achyranthes root)

These ingredients are highly anti-inflammatory and often this formula can take the place of prednisone for inflammatory disorders but without the side effects.

So how does this formula work for cancer?

It’s two main ingredients, Huang Bai and Yi Yi Ren, both have anticancer actions. Huang Bai contains berberine, which has been shown in a number of studies to slow down tumor growth and induce apoptosis or cell death. If you search pub med you will find a large list of studies on berberine and its anti-cancer activities.
Here is a good one – Apoptosis of human leukemia cells and murine leukemia cells induced by berberine through activation of caspase

Coix seed also inhibits growth of cancer cells and can induce apoptosis. Here is a great article on coix seed and its cancer actions –
Healthy Doses Job’s tears

This formula can enhance the action of chemotherapy drugs and anti-microbials in a good way. So it can safely be used with chemotherapy. However often times I focus more on the herbals that have strong immune stimulant effects for animals who are receiving chemo.

The main cancer I use Si Miao San for is lymphoma and some of the leukemias. I also often use this formula if animals can not handle Hoxsey-like formula. Animals needing this formula will run hot and often times have a history of past inflammatory diseases.

The Cang Zhu in this formula helps to support good digestion, which can often be a large issue in animals with cancer. While most of this formula is very cold in nature, the atractylodes is warm and makes sure this formula is well tolerated by most animals. It also does not cool them down too much.

For the animals I treat I make my own Si Miao San from whole dried herbs and dose at 1/8 twice a day for cats and small dogs, ¼ teaspoon twice a day for dogs 15-25 lbs, ½ twice a day for dogs 25-50 lbs, 1 teaspoon twice a day for dogs 50-90lb and 1 ½ teaspoons twice a day for dogs greater than 90lbs.

With tinctures I use .2 ml per 5 lbs of animal twice a day. For tea pills and granules, use the human dose for dogs greater than 50lbs and dose down by weight for smaller animals.

If you are working with a holistic vet or Chinese herbalist, get this formula from them. I am now selling powdered Si Miao San out of my herbal shop Kingdom of Basil on etsy. Amazon does sell the Kan Herbs – Four Marvels pills

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

A magic vial of Yunnan Paiyao

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

As gunshots rang out, he fell from his horse bleeding from where the bullet had entered his chest. As blood ran from the wound, he could feel his life slowly slipping away. Images of his small daughter and wife, who were both far away, ran through his mind.

Quickly he reached for the vial, opening it to swallow the small red pill within and then taking the powder beneath it he quickly poured it in to the fresh wound. His breathing started to return to normal and he felt like he would be able to make it off the battlefield to find help. There was still some bleeding from the wound but no longer enough to take his life.

Sound like something from a fantasy movie? Surprisingly it isn’t.

Yunnan Baiyao, also known as Yunnan Paiyao, is a special formula know to every Chinese herbalist. It was developed in 1902 in China and has been an important remedy ever since. The formula is owned by the Chinese government and the secret of what exactly is in the magic red pill is highly guarded. It is rumored that it is made from gallstones cultivated in very special cows among other things but even the workers in the factories do not know exactly what is in it. We do know that pseudoginseng is probably the most important component of it. When pseudoginseng has been studied alone it has been shown to reduce bleeding times in half.

I use Yunnan Paiyao often in my patients and have been highly impressed with how well it works.

When my husband first moved in with me his cat, Sabutai, was suffering from horrible mouth cancer. One day which he was eating, the tumor in his mouth began to hemorrhage. In a matter of seconds there was blood all over the bathroom and he was just a small cat. Not knowing exactly what to do, I rushed to the medicine cabinet and grabbed one of the little red pills and pushed it down his throat. Within 60 seconds the bleeding had almost completely stopped and he did not hemorrhage again for the rest of his illness.

Another time I was at the vet clinic I used to work at and saw one of my old clients in the waiting room with their older dog, Alki. They quickly explained that they had just found out that Alki had a large tumor on her spleen that was bleeding into her abdomen and that she needed emergency surgery and most likely a blood transfusion. I quickly ran home and grabbed a vial of Yunnan Baiyao and brought it back. We administered the small red pill before she went into surgery and not only did she get through the surgery well and not need a blood transfusion but the surgeon was surprised at how little bleeding there was considering what was happening.

Also see Cosmo – star dog who was a wonderful dog I worked with who lived an extra year because of this herbal.

So why don’t we all have a vial of Yunnan Paiyao sitting around for emergencies? I’m not sure. I know I do! And the western vets I work with do as well.

In our family we often use the powder for any kind of cut or wound. It is not only good at stopping the bleeding but helps keep wounds from getting infected and is not painful to apply like many of the wound cleaning agents. It is safe and can be licked and eaten by cats and dogs without worry.

But isn’t it expensive you ask? Guarded by the Chinese government and that effective!

No! Usually you can buy Yunnan Baiyao for about $10 for a vial or a package of 16 pills of powder. You can even buy this on often.

Currently it has been a little harder to find Yunnan Baiyao. I recommend The Modern Herb Shop .

When are the best times to use it?

If an animal is going into surgery, especially if there is concern about excessive bleeding, I recommend giving the powder or capsules of powder for three days before and after the surgery. The little red pill can be given right before surgery but while the animal is still awake. Dosage depends on the size of your animal (except the red pill). Cats usually do better with the powder mixed with a little water in a syringe because the capsules are too larger for them to swallow where dogs usually do better with the capsules unless they are very small.

Nasal bleeding can be a very hard problem to control especially if there is a tumor or chronic condition which causes it. Yunnan Paiyao can be used to control nasal bleeding.

Yunnan Baiyao can also be used in many of the end stage diseases where surgery is not an option but there is bleeding in the body which can not be controlled. This is a great herbal to use with hemangiosarcoma and any other bleeding cancer or tumor. The powder capsules can be used daily for this and the red pill once again only for emergency.

There are also many reports of it clearing up existing infections and can be safely poured directly into wounds. Although if a wound is infected I usually reach for the antibiotics.

Yunnan Paiyao can safely be used in any cut or wound although deep wounds should be evaluated to see if sutures are needed. Yunnan Paiyao will actually promote healing and help a wound to close faster.

In addition pseudoginseng helps sensitive tumor cells to radiation treatments and can be used in animals with cancer that are undergoing radiation to make these therapies more effective.

With Yunnan Bai Yao in most dogs I dose at one pill twice a day unless they are very large and then I double that. In cats and very small dogs the pills can be opened and half the powder can be used. In hard to medicate animals the powder can also be mixed with water and syringed into the mouth.

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

Lymphoma in dogs and cats – integrative medicine – chemotherapy and herbs with a side of acupuncture

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Lymphoma is one of the fastest moving cancers out there. Because it is so fast moving, it is also the most responsive cancer to chemotherapy.

The prognosis with this disease can be very bad, especially if no treatment is used.

However the good news is, with chemotherapy and holistic medicine we can often get 18-24 months and occasionally ongoing remission. Integrative medicine clearly is the best way to go with this disease.

With no treatment I have seen animals die within one week of diagnosis. The average is 4 weeks with no treatment. With using natural medicine, I have found usually I can move that out to 2-4 months. Chemotherapy alone pushes that even further with average survival at around a year.

When a dog or cat comes to me with lymphoma, I highly recommend they consult with an oncologist or a vet who does a lot of chemotherapy work. If you want remission with this cancer you need to do chemotherapy.

The most widely used chemotherapy protocol for this cancer consisted of a multiple drug approach and is given over approximately six months for dogs. In cats the protocol is shorter and the main vet I work with believes that one to three chemo treatments can significantly slow down this disease in felines.

Full chemotherapy for dogs can also be quite expensive, around $4000. Shorter durations can be given for this cancer as well if cost or tolerance of chemotherapy is a concern.

Because so many people choice to do chemotherapy for this cancer I divided this article into four sections.

  • Treatments I recommend regardless of western treatment
  • Treatments I use with chemo
  • Treatments to give if no chemotherapy is used
  • Cats

So first what do I recommend for all cats and dogs with lymphoma? (Follow the links for more information on the supplements and dosing information.)

  1. Weekly or every other week acupuncture. I have seen this make a large difference in survival times and in keeping white blood cell levels within normal range during chemotherapy. Usually just with acupuncture alone I can double any prognosis. Please see Acupuncture for animals with cancer – stoking the healing power within
  2. Artemisinin can reduce node size and make animals feel better.
  3. A good cancer diet without grains. If you are using chemo do not feed raw food, make sure it is cooked. For more information on the diets I recommend seeDiets for cancer in cats and dogs.
  4. Xiao Chai Hu Tang – Sometimes I add indigo and others herbs to this formula for dogs I see in person to customize it but the straight formula works well also. If you are working with a holistic vet ask them about additions.

In addition to this protocol if no chemo is used I often recommend –

  1. Prednisone. Yes it is a western drug, but it will work as a chemotherapy drug and shrink the nodes. Every animal I have treated for lymphoma has been on prednisone and I highly recommend it. If you are considering chemo do not start the prednisone before consulting with an oncologist or vet who knows chemo. If given before chemo the prednisone can significantly reduce the outcome of the chemo.
  2. SanSheDan ChuanBeiYe is great at slowing this cancer down and keeping it out of the lungs.
  3. Hoxsey-like formula or Cancer Detox Support Hoxsey can make some dogs sick, I usually only recommend using it if you are working directly with a holistic vet who thinks it is appropriate. I also use a similar formula I call cancer detox which is less toxic but still has some great anti-cancer properties.
  4. Si Miao San I use a lot less of this these days but still sometimes if the lymphoma is mostly in the nodes or gastrointestinal system.

If chemotherapy is given I add to my main protocol:

  1. Mushrooms – I give a mushroom combo with shiitake, maitaki, reishi and cordyceps There are many of these products. Mushrooms not only have effects directly against cancer but stimulate the immune system and help keep white blood cell counts up.
  2. Milk thistle – improves the outcome of chemotherapy and decreases side effects
  3. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang – there is a great study out there at shows this herbal improves outcomes and reduces side effects during chemotherapy.

In cats

Cats have a hard time with multiple drugs and supplements. With cats I start them on my main protocol and then wait a week. If they are still eating well I will then add in one Chinese herbal formula in addition to my main protocol.

How do I decide which one?

The best I can tell you is usually this will either be Xiao Chai Hu Tang if this cancer is intestinal or centered in the spleen or liver, Hoxsey-like formula if the cancer is in the nodes, or Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang if they are getting chemotherapy.

If at all possible find a good holistic practitioner to work with your cat. Cats generally do really well with acupuncture so if at all possible find someone who also does acupuncture.

Cats can get a disease called small cell lymphoma which is very slow moving. I treat this differently and will try to put up another article on it.

As with all advice offered on this website please check in with your animal’s primary veterinarian before using any of these herbals and supplements.

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

Diets for cancer in cats and dogs – you are what you eat, a fighting cancer machine

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Good nutrition is very important in any animal fighting cancer. You are what you eat and with cancer we need a diet that feeds and supports the body but starves the cancer. In fighting cancer with herbs and holistic medicine, we are relying on the body to do the fighting. This takes a strong immune system and a lot of energy. You need good food for this.

Cancer cannot utilize fats but loves to use carbohydrates, especially processed ones. Protein is somewhere in between.

A diet high in protein, moderate in fat and with no grain or very low grain is ideal. Home-made cooked, or raw diets are best. If that is not possible then a good quality high protein, canned commercial diet or a hydrated freeze dried raw diet can be substituted.

If your animal is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation you should not use a raw diet (freeze dried is fine). However for these animals a great option is a cooked diet. After they are done with these treatments the food can slowly be transitioned to raw if desired.

If your dog or cat is very debilitated from cancer and has not been on a raw diet before stick with a cooked or freeze dried food.

Commercial raw diets can be cooked as a more simple way to make home cooked food for your animal.

Below are a couple diets I have been using for years for my clients who have time to home cook. It is not an exact science so feel free to play around with them. Scroll down to see some of the commercial diets I recommend (canned, freeze dried and raw).

Sample cancer diets

Dog (approximately for a 40 lb dog per day)

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or raw meat including liver and organ meat (if you use fish or pork make sure it is cooked)
  • 1 cup cooked vegetables
  • 1/4 cup yam, sweet potato or pumpkin, cooked or canned
  • 1/8 cup nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or cashews
  • 2 T yogurt with live cultures
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Nordic Naturals Pet Cod Liver Oil
  • a calcium supplement (see below)

Cat Cancer Diet See Making Crazy Awesome Homemade Cat Food

An alternative cat food recipe is Making Crazy Awesome Cat Food Part Two.

For homemade dog food (cats are hard to add extras to their food)

  • If possible I also recommend adding reishi, shitake, and/or maitake mushrooms to the diet. Mushrooms are strong immune stimulates and have anti-cancer properties. Add them in as some of the veggies. Mushrooms should always be cooked as the cooking releases their helpful properties and when they are not cooked they are mildly toxic. Alternatively Fungi Perfecti, in my opinion the best mushroom company around, offers a great powdered supplement called MUSH.
  • When picking vegetables, broccoli and other leafy dark green vegetables should be considered. Many studies have been done on broccoli’s effects against cancer. See the article Broccoli Fights Cancer.
  • I am not a large user of supplements, but I love Healthforce’s Vitamineral Powder and feel like it adds in both micronutrients and some added digestive support.
  • The pumpkin, sweet potato, yam, and cod liver oil are high in Vitamin A. Vitamin A promotes mechanisms in the body that kill cancer cells and cause cell differentiation. Consider adding other sources of vitamin A such as liver and carrots.
  • A calcium supplement needs to be added to any diet made for cats and dogs. There are many ways to do this.
    • There are many commercial products such as Animal Essentials Natural Seaweed Calcium.
    • Bone Meal Powder can also be used. Use one teaspoon for an average sized dog.
    • Many people prefer to add a Centrum Silver a day for average to large sized dogs.
    • If you are feeding a raw diet you can feed raw chicken necks for calcium.
    • If you are using eggs in your diet consider smashing up the egg shell and adding it to the diet. One egg shell provides enough calcium for an average sized dog. 1/8-1/4 of an eggshell provides enough for a cat.
  • If you are making raw food make sure the meat is frozen for at least 48 hours to kill off any dangerous parasites.
  • Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews are high in trace nutrients, minerals, vitamins and good fats. If possible include these in your diet. Cats sometimes do better with a little almond butter. Avoid macadamia nuts which are toxic to dogs.

If you are using a commercial canned food I recommend the following

  • Weruva is a great food that seems home made. They have many varieties so make sure you find a grain free one. I have found this food much cheaper on
  • Instinct is completely grain free and very high in protein.
  • Taste of the Wild is another quality food I use in a lot of the dogs I work with.
  • There are other good ones out there but make sure they mostly contain meat and are grain free.

If you are using a commercial raw diet ideally pick one local to your area. I really like Darwin’s for raw dog and cat food and Rad Cat for cats.

For commercial home cooked food and raw food for cats and dogs in the Seattle area, Natural Pet Pantry is a good option. Fresh and local food and run by knowledgable and kind folks.

If you are looked for a good freeze dried raw Stella & Chewy’s is my favorite and even picky animals including cats seem to like it. With any of the freeze dried foods I recommend hydrating them.

I hate to see dogs and cats with cancer on dry food but if that is the only option then a no grain high quality diet such as Orijen can be used.

Remember that any food in the belly is more important then the best food sitting uneaten. Sometimes animals with cancer are so sick that they have very little appetite. In that case give them anything they will eat. When they are feeling better, focus on trying to get them to eat what is best for them.

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

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang – Fighting Mast Cell Tumors and supporting the lungs against cancer

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, otherwise known as Drive out Stasis in the Mansion of Blood Decoction, has a beautiful red color from the wonderful Hong Hua or safflower flowers it contains. This is the last of my top five cancer formulas and a very special one at that. Where Hoxsey is somewhat toxic and cooling, Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang is warming and nourishing. At the same time it is a quite strong cancer fighter.

The number one place I use this formula is for dogs with mast cell cancer. This is a cancer that often arises if there is impaired blood flow to the skin. Without good blood flow the immune system can not find and destroy the cancer cells that arise. Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang helps promote blood flow to the skin so the immune system can reach mast cell cancer. In my experience this formula helps to reduce tumor size, occasionally shrink the small tumors completely and prevent formulation of new mast cell tumors. These dogs are often prone to reoccurrence, not necessarily because tumors spread, but because the underlying disease process still exists.

I also will use this formula topically mixed with a little DMSO Gel or with vitamin E or aloe if DMSO can not be purchased or the tumor is by the mouth. For DMSO I use about two tablespoons of herbs for 4 ounces of gel and mix it in the gel jar. The other carriers you just want to make a paste that will stick to the skin. I apply the herb/DMSO paste directly to the tumors. Please read about DMSO and discuss with your vet before using. Because mast cell tumors can cause a sudden release of histamine when irritated, especially with larger tumors this should not be applied without veterinary guidance. A good article on DMSO is DMSO – many uses, much controversy.

This is a formula that I use in any of the dogs and cats I treat with lung metastasis. It has an amazing ability to move blood away from tumors in the chest and out to the periphery of the body. This starves tumor cells in the lungs.

In addition it is good against any intra-thoracic tumor, thyroid adenocarcinomas, and salivary tumors. It can also be effective against some of the blood borne cancers like leukemia and myeloma.

This formula has been shown to increase immunity, kill cancer cells and enhance the effects of radiation therapy. It has strong anti-oxidant effects and helps to support the body and immune system in its fight against cancer.

It is a combination of the following herbs

  • Tao Ren (peach seed)
  • Dang Gui (angelica root)
  • Hong Hua (safflower flowers)
  • Chuan Niu Xi (cyathula root)
  • Sheng Di Huang (Rehmannia)
  • Chi Shao (red peony root)
  • Zhi Ke (bitter orange)
  • Chuan Xiong (lovage root)
  • Jie Geng (platycodon root)
  • Chai Hu (bupleurum root)
  • Gan Cao (licorice root)

I usually add San Leng (scirpus rhizome) and E Zhu (turmeric) to this formula to enhance its effect against cancer. Studies done on these two herbs show that they have a significant effect in inducing apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells.

The main effects of this formula involves taking blood away from tumor cells and moving it to the parts of the body which need it. However Chai Hu has direct effects in killing cancer cells as discussed in the article about Xiao Chai Hu Tang. Tao Ren contains the same bound form of cyanide found in apricot seeds, which has a strong effect on cancer cells but spares normal cells.

In addition to cancer I also use this formula for many forms of heart disease, hacking coughs, bronchitis, dry skin and itching, fear, and back pain.

This formula works best for tumors that are considered blood stasis in Chinese medicine and better for tumors in the cranial third of the body. There are slight modifications made to this formula for internal tumors in the middle and caudal body. See Ge Xia Zhu Yu Tang and Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang.

If I use ground herbs, I usually dose this formula at 1/8 teaspoon twice a day for small dogs, ¼ teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 30lb, ½ teaspoon twice a day for dogs up to 70lb and 1 teaspoon twice a day for dogs over 70 lbs. I will occasionally dose it just in the morning if I am giving Xiao Chai Hu Tang in the evening.

If using a tincture I dose it at 0.2ml per 5lb once or twice a day.

I sell powdered Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang with the added San Leng and E Zhu through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil.

If you want to buy the base formula, the teapill form is sold on
Stasis In The Mansion Of Blood Teapills (Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang Wan) If you use tea pills I highly, highly recommend finding a way to add in San Leng and E Zhu. The formula just doesn’t work as well without these two ingredients.
To use tea pills I dose cats and very small dogs at two pills twice a day, medium sized dogs at 4-5 pills twice a day and large dogs at 8 pills twice a day.

Please check with you animal’s primary vet before using this formula.

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

Doga studio opens in West Seattle

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

What is doga you ask?

Well yoga with your dog of course! And it’s about time too – don’t you think about your dog sitting at home all alone everything you are in yoga class, especially while doing downward dog?

This week the first doga studio in the United States opened in my back yard! Brenda Bryan and Kelly Page just opened Westside Yoga/Doga in West Seattle.

What are the benefits of Doga?

from Westside Yoga’s website-
Doga strengthens the bond with our dogs by giving them our complete attention during class time by spending quality time engaging in a partnership activity. As we lift, stretch and massage our dogs during class we’re teaching them to trust in the relationship they share with us. They also receive physical benefits from the massage and stretching like relaxation, stress release, improved circulation and range of motion.

People also receive the benefits of stretching and strengthening through the exercise part of doga class. But there are other benefits that go beyond the physical.

The word yoga means union and dogs are pack animals, so they are all about union. Union means discovering a deep connection to all things. In doga we move toward union by first connecting to our dogs, then to the best part of ourselves, then hopefully opening up to a connection to all things. It’s a very heart opening practice and it’s a lot more fun to walk our dogs with us on the path to enlightenment.

Brenda also has a wonderful blog on Doga The Dog Yoga Blog.

Unfortunately my own little guy Mel doesn’t play well with other dogs and will not be able to attend but I am still excited to have this so near and will try to check out one of their non-dog classes.

Dementia and anxiety in your older dog – What you can do.

Monday, February 1st, 2010

It is sad to see our beloved animal companions get old and even harder to see them start to loss their mind. In many dogs the first sign of this is anxiety in the evening or throughout the night, although dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome can manifest in many different ways.

Not all dementia has an anxiety component to it and not all anxiety in older dogs is from dementia but the two often go together.

So what causes dementia in older dogs?

There are four main causes of dementia or cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

  1. Free radical formation Free radicals harm healthy cells in the brain.
  2. Hypoxia to the brain In other words there is not enough blood getting to the brain.
  3. Alterations in neurotransmitters There is too much or not enough of certain necessary neurotransmitters in the brain. You need neurotransmitters to have your neurons or brain cells function together.
  4. Neural infiltrates such as B amyloid and lipofusion These infiltrates destroy healthy brain tissue, similar to alzheimer’s disease in people.

In Traditional Chinese medicine (or TCM), anxiety in older animals is caused by too much heart fire related to the kidneys becoming deficient as your dog ages. Kidneys are considered to be the water element and as we age the kidneys get deficient and water in the body system decreases to a point that it allows heart which is a fire element to flare too much and cause anxiety especially during the heart peak hours of 11pm – 1am.

According to TCM, another issue is that older animals can become what is called yin deficient. Yin holds the yang at night so we can sleep. If there is not enough yin, the yang is not held and sleep doesn’t happen.

Sometimes these problems are reversible if caught early but even when they are not, there are things you can do to help slow down the progression of the disease and help with symptoms. Usually in spite of everything we do, dementia is progressive and eventually gets to the point that nothing helps anymore. This process can happen quickly or occur slowly over a number of years.

Here is a list of some things that I have found can help your older dog with dementia or anxiety. Please check with your veterinarian to come up with a plan that is safe for your dog.

  1. Walking is the most important thing you can do for your older dog. Walking just ten minutes twice a day can significantly increase brain blood flow and reverse symptoms of dementia from hypoxia. Plus it can help prevent muscle atrophy and help with arthritis.
  2. Ginkgo Biloba does three important things. It helps increase blood flow to the brain by vasodilation , it helps regulate dopamine in the brain and it helps prevent amyloid deposits. I dose ginkgo at 100mg per 50lb of dog or more. I sell a powdered herbal formula called Brain and Heart Support Formula through my etsy store Kingdom of Basil which can be added to food. In animals with picky appetite you can also use the Animals’ Apawthecary Hawthorn Plus
    which contains hawthorn and ginkgo. Another option is to use the product Senilife
    which contains ginkgo and other antioxidant ingredients (see Peggy’s comment in the comments section). I find ginkgo can help slow the progression of dementia
  3. Fish or Cod Liver Oil and other antioxidants help prevent and repair free radical damage and stimulate brain function. In addition Fish Oil also help with arthritis and dry coat problems in older dogs. I dose Fish Oil at 500mg per 40 lb of dog. I prefer the Nordic Natural Cod Liver Oil. Extra vitamin B and E can also help these dogs.
  4. SamE helps increase dopamine function in the brain, stimulates brain function and works as an antioxidant. It also helps with joint pain and liver function which many older dogs have problems with. I dose SamE at around 425mg per 50lb of dog. I prefer to use the dog product Nutramax Denosyl.
  5. Remove any compact fluorescent or fluorescent lighting. Fluorescent lighting can cause a high pitched hum that humans can not hear but dogs and cats can. Older dogs loss their high frequency hearing last so even almost deaf dogs can still hear very high frequency noises. In addition fluorescent lighting can affect brain function and can cause headaches. See The danger of compact fluorescent lighting.
  6. Get rid of the dry food. Many older dogs do better on home cooked food or canned food. I don’t recommend switching an old dog to raw food if they have not been on it before. From a Chinese medicine view, dry food is too processed and dry for an older dog who already is kidney deficient.
  7. Oneof my patients, Luna wearing a T shirt

    One of my patients, Luna wearing a T shirt

  8. 5.Wearing a T-shirt, Thundershirt, or Anxiety Wrap can help your older dog if they have problems with anxiety. It sounds weird I know, but it actually does work.

    It is based around the ideas from Tellington TTouch of using an ace bandage. See the article Put an ace bandage on my dog?. 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. I have found however that if your dog has a lot of arthritic pain the anxiety wrap is too hard to put on, so try the Thundershirt or a T-shirt in that case. This is also an idea that can work in young dogs with anxiety.

  9. Melatonin can help old dogs sleep at night. Sometimes older dogs can get confused between night and day and end up sleeping all day and then pacing and panting at night. This can make it very hard for us humans to sleep also. Giving Melatonin in the evening can help regulate night and day for these guys and get everyone a better night’s sleep. I dose Melatonin at 3-4mg per 50lb of dog.Many brands of Melatonin contains xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs. Make sure your brand does not!
  10. Small meals more often and right before bed are sometimes better for these older dogs. A small meal of wet or cooked food right before bedtime can help get these dogs through the night and help them sleep better.
  11. Acupuncture can help decrease anxiety especially at night time by treating the yin, kidneys, and heart fire. In addition acupuncture can help with arthritis pain, weakness, and kidney function and help your dog age more gracefully as they get older. I often combine acupuncture with Chinese herbs for these dogs.
  12. Reiki can help to relax older dogs and calm anxiety. Reiki is a nice calming way of helping improve health and well being as animals age.
  13. Bach Rescue Remedy and other flower essences can help with anxiety and fear. Flower essences are homeopathic in nature and very safe for older animals. Rescue Remedy is the best know but there are many lines for treating a variety of behavior and emotional issues.

    You can dose flower essences by putting 3-4 drops in your dog’s drinking water every time you change their water. It’s ok to use flower essences in the water even if other animals drink from the same dish.

  14. Other herbal medications are out there for helping with anxiety in older dogs.

    Making a tea or tincture from hops leaves can help calm some older dogs. You can also buy hops leaves and sprinkle them in your dog’s food. Animal Apawthecary makes a Tranquility Tonic that if used at their recommended dosage is safe in most animals. I also have a formula I make and sell in my store, Kingdom of Basil, which helps to treat anxiety in older dogs and also contains ginkgo to help with brain function called Calm and Peaceful Formula. Also see my article Helping anxiety in an old friend – calm and peaceful formula.

    I recommend consulting with a holistic veterinary to decide on what is right for your dog.

    Some of the calming herbals can be dangerous if used incorrectly or in the wrong animal.

    To use Chinese herbs correctly you should consult with a veterinarian with a background is Chinese herbal medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine.

  15. Western Drugs are always an option. There are may drugs that help with anxiety and can be given if the natural alternatives do not work or are not enough. There are also drugs out there that help with dementia such as Selegiline (Anipryl). Most of the western drugs like the herbs are not cure alls but can help make things better.
  16. Some dogs are anxious because they are painful . This is an important thing to rule out before assuming there is a dementia component.

    If your dog is not on pain medication have them evaluated by your veterinarian. If they are on pain medication talk to your vet about increasing the dose or trying something else if there may be a pain factor. Dogs can’t always tell us when they are in pain and pain certainly can cause sleep disturbance and anxiety.

  17. Talk to your dog about the change in their position in the house. Many dogs especially the herding breeds take their job of watching the house very seriously. As they get older and can not do it the way they would like to anymore they can become quite anxious. Explaining that your accept them in their old age and making changes to help them, can ease anxiety. See the article Love me for who I am today.
  18. 13. Take care of yourself!. This is very important when you are caring for an elderly or sick animal. To be a good caregiver you need to be healthy and well rested.

    If you have a dog that is anxious at night and you are not sleeping consider putting them in a different room than you sleep in, crating them if they are ok with crating, or finding another solution. If you get sick because you are not taking care of yourself you will not be able to care for them.

    It may seem mean to kick them out of your room but it is kinder than letting them sleep with you and being a grumpy caregiver. I had to do this with my old dog Jake and it actually ended up with us both sleeping better. Before we slept in separate rooms, his anxiety made me anxious, which made him more anxious and by the morning we were both a mess.

Dementia and anxiety are some of the most frustrating and painful problems I see in older dogs and can be very difficult to deal with. Be gentle on yourself and your dog companion and try to find a healthy way to work with these problems for everyone in the household.

When dementia progresses to a point where you beloved companion is no longer present and enjoying life or in pain sometimes the greatest gift we can give them is to help them to go through euthanasia. This is not an easy decision to make and there are no set guilds that tell you when it is time. This can differ from dog to dog. The best we can do is to look into our hearts for what is right.

Also see Follow up to Dementia and Anxiety in Older Dogs – Sadie’s Hospice Care.

Please join me in the Path With Paws forums for more discussion of dementia and with any questions.

How do I pick the best food for my dog’s health?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

Gone are the days when we jumped at the chance to get a three cans for a dollar deal on Alpo at the local grocery store and a bag of Kibbles and Bits. Most dog folks know that feeding good quality food can be one of the most important decisions you can make for your animal friend. These days many people who come to my clinic are already feeding a high quality food.

So how do you choose?

While there are no set answers to this question, here are some rules of thumb to follow:

  • 1. Always feed high quality food – So how do I tell what is high quality you ask
    • Make sure meat is the first ingredient and that it is real meat. It should be chicken or turkey or some other recognizable meat (not animal which can be euthanized cats and dogs- yuck!) and it should not be by-product.
    • Make sure there is no corn, corn meal or other corn products. Many animals are allergic to corn and usually only low quality foods have corn. The one exception I can think of to this is that Weruva has a couple foods that have chunks of corn in them. I still think this is a high quality food.
    • Learn how to read labels. You want to see a list of foods you recognize at the top, and then a list of vitamin and minerals you may not, closer to the bottom. Avoid dyes, preservatives like BHA, BHT, and erythoxyquin, food stabilizers like propylene glycol and sugars. For more information on how to read a label see the article What is really in pet food? from Born Free USA.
  • 2. Here is a list of my favorite brands There are other good foods out there to but these are the ones I recommend most often.
    • Weruva This is the only dog food that looks good enough that I would eat it! Made with whole foods and there is no question when you open the can.
    • Wellness is a good solid food with good ingredients. In addition to their traditional and grain free lines, they have a simple ingredient line for dogs with food allergies which is a much better alternative to many of the expensive and low quality prescription diets
    • Homestyle by Prairie, Instinct, Nature’s Variety raw foods are all made by Nature’s Variety. Prairie is their main line, Instinct is grain free and they also make a great raw line I recommend under the Nature’s Variety name. I have been happy with all their foods.
    • Merrick makes a great line of canned and dry foods. I have used their canned line in many inflammatory bowl disease dogs with good success. And they have a very cute marketing campaign.
    • Avoderm and Pinnacle are both solid good natural foods. Avoderm is marketed for animals with itchy skin and can make a difference in dogs with environmental allergies.
    • Orijen and Acana are the best grain free dry foods out there for dogs. If you feed just a dry food or mostly a dry food these would be my top recommendations. They only make dry food but have their own packaging and processing plant for their food which gives them better control on keeping contaminates out of their food lines.
    • Darwin’s Pet is a great northwest company which makes raw diets. If you live in the Seattle area they will deliver to your doorstep. They have a very good quality product and because they are a small company a lot of control on what goes into their food. For raw diets in the Seattle area they are number one
    • Go! and Now! Moderate protein diets with grain free varieties, these two foods are good solid options. Tasty options if the higher protein Orijen doesn’t work and a very good canned option
    • Paw’s Cafe is another great local company in the Seattle area which makes homemade food, raw diets and custom diets. Great folks and very high quality diets. So far they only deliver to the Eastside but there is talk they may come over to Seattle soon. If they do they will be up there with Darwin’s.
    • Taste of the Wild is a newer food on the market. It is grain free with excellent ingredients and seems to be tasty.
    • The Natural Pet Pantry is located in Burien, Washington and makes a great product, both cooked and raw. They also will make special diets from scratch for your dog.
    • Update 5/20/10 Because of the recent buyout of Natura pet by Proctor and Gamble I no longer recommend Innova, Evo, California Natural, Karma, or Heathwise.

    I feed multiple brands of food to my own dog and switch flavors and brands daily. If your dog’s stomach allows it I recommend switching brands and varieties of food.

    If I have missed the food you feed your dog add a comment and I will give you my opinion on it.

  • 3. If you have an animal over eight years of age (or a younger geriatric animal) they should not be on an exclusively dry food. Ideally they should have little to no dry food. If your dog loses too much weight on a diet of no dry food try adding in an egg a day and canned sweet potato or pumpkin.

    Dry food can be hard on the kidneys of older animals. Home cooked and high quality canned food are the best option for these guys. Older animals can be on raw food although some older dogs have a hard time switching to raw late in life if they have been on processed food since puppy hood. If possible find a holistic vet to work with on diet for older dogs or move very slowly as you switch them.

    Dry food is cheapest and some people can not afford to feed anything but it. If dry food is all you can afford, adding a little water, chicken broth, wet food or good quality table scraps will help. There are also some animals that simply do not do well on anything but a dry food or will not eat anything but a dry food. If you feed only a dry diet make sure it is high quality.

    High quality dry food with water or broth is better than low quality wet food.

  • 4. Grain free foods vs foods with grain

    Our dogs should be on a diet with a high protein content and should be eating mostly meat.

    Animals with allergies, cancer, or epilepsy should ideally be on a grain free diet. Many animals with chronic vomiting also do better on a grain free diet or low grain diet.

    Some animals prone to diarrhea do better with a food with some grain.

    Healthy animals can be on a high quality diet with or without grain but if you feed just a dry food I highly recommend it being grain free.

  • 5. So if grain, how much grain?

    There should always be more meat than grain in the food you feed your animal.

    Meat should be the top ingredient but also beware of the multiple names for the same thing. If there are three corn or grain based ingredients right after meat then there is probably more grain in the food. Also stay away from foods with corn and wheat if possible.

    The more whole grain the better. Oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice are ideal grain sources. Corn, wheat and white rice are not as good.

  • 5. The least processed the food the better (also known as dry vs canned vs raw vs cooked)

    In the ideal world we would all have time to come home each day and cook for ourselves and our pets. However many people don’t have time to cook for themselves or their dogs.

    If you have the time and/or money start your dog on a raw diet or cook for them at home. There are also companies like Paw’s Cafe which make homemade dog food. If you are against feeding raw food or your dog doesn’t tolerate it, raw foods can also be cooked. Crock pots and steamers are ideal for this. Although you can always throw it in a frying pan.

    If you feed a raw diet make sure it is a frozen commercial product or that you freeze the meat or the food before you feed it to kill of any parasites that may be in the food. Pork and fish should never be fed raw to dogs.

    In general the less proceeded the food the better. With raw being on the top, followed by cooked, canned and finally dry. But do what works for your household.

    There are almost no overweight dogs on raw diets. If your dog is overweight get them off the dry food.

    My own dog, who is a cancer survivor, eats high quality canned food. He doesn’t tolerate raw and I don’t have time to cook for him. We found that he also needed some grain to keep his digestion healthy.

    While I have a number of animals on homemade or raw diets, many of my clients feed their dogs a mixture of high quality dry and wet because of convenience and cost.

  • 6. Pick the meat which is best for your cat or dog. If possible rotate meat sources.

    If your animal has obvious allergies then this choice is made for you. If not, I am highly in favor of switching protein sources routinely. This reduces your animals chance of developing allergies and adds some variety to your their diet. Imagine if you had to eat the same thing over and over again. Boring!

    Chinese medicine also has an energetic system for working with food. See my article The dance of life and the energetics of food for more information.

    I do not recommend feeding pork to dogs because of the way pigs are raised and the energetics that go along with that. Pork must never be eaten raw because of the diseases that pigs carry.

  • 7. Table scraps are ok

    No really, I know we as a veterinary community have told you they aren’t. But if you eat healthy food it is fine for your dog to have some. Just remember – no grapes, no raisins, no onions, no chocolate.

  • 8. For animals in kidney failure, the quality of the protein is much more important than the amount of protein.

    For years the veterinary community has recommended low protein for dogs in kidney failure. The new studies out however show that diets moderate in very high quality protein are best for these animals.

    Avoid the low quality, low protein prescription kidney diets and feed a canned or whole cooked food diet with moderate protein and some grain or potato instead. Try your best to not feed dry food to these guys.

  • 9. Do what is best for your dog and you.

    If all the diets I recommend give your dog diarrhea, find something else to feed. If you can’t feed a raw diet it’s ok. If you don’t have time to cook, well you’re just like me. These are recommendations, not rules that are set in stone.

    Do the best you can and try to have fun with it! After all you know your dog better than anyone else!

  • Helpful links
    Dog Aware’s dog food page More information than you could ever use about dog food!.
    Born Free’s What’s Really In Pet Food A great article about pet food companies and processing.

    Books about dog food and diet
    Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats
    The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats
    The Healthy Dog Cookbook: 50 Nutritious & Delicious Recipes Your Dog Will Love

    Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food
    Not Fit for a Dog!: The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food
    Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: the Healthful Alternative

    Also see How do I pick the best food for my cat’s health?.

    Just a dog

    Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

    From time to time, people tell me, “lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for “just a dog.”

    Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

    Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

    If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,” then you will probably understand phases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.”

    “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

    Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.

    “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man.”

    So the next time you hear the phrase “just a dog.” just smile, because they “just don’t understand.

    -Richard Biby

    Thanks to a forum poster on the West Seattle Blog for this wonderful quote.