Several therapies exist for treating cancer. Some therapies completely remove cancer and others simply slow it down. In addition to treating cancer, holistic veterinarians recommend boosting the pet’s immune system.
Surgery removes masses and prevents the cancer tumor from crushing cells around it. For example, a tumor growing around the lower esophagus where the esophagus empties into the stomach can stop food from entering the stomach so the pet starves. Surgery to remove the tumor helps pets continue to eat.
Most curative surgeries remove a wide area around the tumor to ensure that all cancerous tissue is eliminated. Many veterinarians do not believe surgery should be done immediately, but believe that the pet has the best chance of becoming healthy if the immune system is strengthened before surgery.
X-rays can kill cancer cells in places that are difficult to reach surgically. For example, a brain tumor can be safely irradiated but is often difficult to surgically remove brain tumors. Radiation can be targeted to very tiny areas so that surrounding brain cells are minimally affected. Radiation isn’t always effective, though, because some cells, such as melanomas, are immune to usual doses of radiation.
Radiation can cause hair loss, skin color changes, and unusual hair regrowth. Poodles and Old English Sheepdogs are among the dogs with the most marked hair loss. Cats lose their whiskers.
Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill cancer cells. These chemicals are often highly toxic and the dose must be calibrated exactly so that your pet does not receive too much. We measure the surface area of dogs and cats, rather than weight, to calibrate the dose. Examples of chemotherapeutic medications include vincristine, vinblastine, 5-fluorouracil, and doxorubicin.
Chemotherapy is used when the cancer is widespread and the therapy must be able to travel throughout the body. Chemotherapy can cause loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness and hair loss. Cats can lose their whiskers.
Cryotherapy is freezing with liquid nitrogen. Two rapid freezes and two slow thaws are used to treat small skin cancers.
Synthetic retinoids Retinoids are Vitamin A compounds. Synthetic retinoids such as acitretin have been used to treat precancerous skin lesions in dogs and cats. Historically, cod liver oil, which is high in Vitamins A and D, was applied to skin daily to remove lesions.
Boosting the Immune System
Boosting a pet’s immune system increases the likelihood that natural killer cells will find and destroy cancer cells when they are small. Omega 3 fatty acids, arginine, herbs, vitamins, minerals, mushrooms, and homeopathic medications are all used to boost your pet’s immune system. Green tea, medicinal mushrooms, components from broccoli, reservatrol from grapes, selenium, and turmeric are examples of natural products used to boost immunity. Homeopathic remedies used to treat cancer include Hepar, Carcinosum, and Lymphomyosat.
Feeding a holistic diet, and offering fish, meat, fresh grated fruits and vegetables, small amounts of turmeric and fresh, grated garlic also boost the immune system. Offer the food warmed since pets evolved eating prey at body temperature. Feeding a diet that is low in carbohydrates has been shown to increase survival time of pets with cancer.
This information is for educational purposes only and is intended to be a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise and professional judgment of your veterinarian. The information is NOT to be used for diagnosis or treatment of your pet. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.
The information about medications is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, allergic reactions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for your pet. It is not a substitute for a veterinary exam, and it does not replace the need for services provided by your veterinarian.
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