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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Susan Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Depression, Stress and Dog Cancer: Let’s Think About It

Updated: December 13th, 2018

Summary

Are depression stress and dog cancer linked? Let’s take a look.

Okay, this time we are going outside the box (one of my favorite areas!)  There is oodles of evidence linking depression and stress to human cancers. This is a mind-body connection that is backed up with real science, folks.  However, to my knowledge, the connection between depression stress and dog cancer has not been looked at in any detail.

So, what is the evidence?  First, depression and chronic stress lower survival time for cancer patients.  Put another way, low stress and no depression can mean a longer life, even in those who have cancer.

Next, stress and chronic depression release hormones and signals (epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol) in the body that DIRECTLY STIMULATE cancer cells. In other words, when you are stressed and/or depressed, any cancer cells that happen to be in the body are encouraged.

Finally, these hormones suppress immune system cells that are involved in cancer cell destruction. Natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T cells are in charge of destroying cancer cells. But when you’re stressed and depressed, your body stops making as many of those cells … letting cancer cells stay alive to grow and multiply.



So does the same apply to depression, stress and dog cancer? Sure. A dog’s body has the same hormones and the same processes. As a matter of fact, dogs are becoming the preferred model for studying human cancers.

I can hear some readers reacting now … “what does my dog have to be stressed or depressed about?”

Or, “she/he doesn’t look stressed or depressed.  My canine companion is fine!”

Hmmmm.

Maybe. But what if, managing stress and depression actively was an area that could be focused on in attacking dog cancer? If we are interested in doing everything possible to fight tumors, why not? This could be one way to boost the immune response without the use of drugs or financial investment.

I’ll let you work on that one and we’ll check it out in the next post.

Best to all,

Dr Dressler



 

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment





  1. Susan Kazara Harper on March 15, 2015 at 9:51 pm

    Do you hear the sound of happy feet? Thank you for this contribution George, and hello to Scooter. One of the things I adore about making the time to give our dogs joy, is that we get an immediate benefit ourselves. And I know our dogs are thinking “OK, you’re getting it!” Keep spreading the word! Hugs to Scooter!

  2. George on February 23, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I’m a believer.

    When I first learned that the #1 killer of dogs
    was cancer I made it my job to do whatever I could to reduce the stress
    levels that might affect my dog, Scooter. First, he goes with me to
    work. Not everyone can do this, I know, but not being alone has to be a
    major stress reliever for a dog and I’m glad I’m able to do it.

    Second,
    his walks. He lives for his morning and evening walk. Not so easy with
    the weather conditions right now but I still try to let him have his
    fill each time we go out. He’s a marker so the pace can be agonizingly
    slow. So be it. He can sniff
    and roll and mark all he wants. It’s obvious he’s enjoying it. The tail is going a mile a minute.

    Feeding
    is another chance to make things right. Scooter has IBD and getting his
    diet under control took a long time. He eats better than I do most
    days. Good quality food that he looks forward to eating because he seems
    to enjoy it.

    Going on 15 this year and still in excellent health
    says his board certified internist. No need to go check up on him. He’s
    sitting on my lap as I type this.

  3. George on February 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I’m a believer.

    When I first learned that the #1 killer of dogs was cancer I made it my job to do whatever I could to reduce the stress levels that might affect my dog, Scooter. First, he goes with me to work. Not everyone can do this, I know, but not being alone has to be a major stress reliever for a dog and I’m glad I’m able to do it.

    Second, his walks. He lives for his morning and evening walk. Not so easy with the weather conditions right now but I still try to let him have his fill each time we go out. He’s a marker so the pace can be agonizingly slow. So be it. He can sniff
    and roll and mark all he wants. It’s obvious he’s enjoying it. The tail is going a mile a minute.

    Feeding is another chance to make things right. Scooter has IBD and getting his diet under control took a long time. He eats better than I do most days. Good quality food that he looks forward to eating because he seems to enjoy it.

    Going on 15 this year and still in excellent health says his board certified internist. No need to go check up on him. He’s sitting on my lap as I type this.

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