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

New treatment for Dogs with Melanoma

Updated: December 20th, 2018

Chalk up a win for the Animal Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering.  These two medical facilities have teamed up with Merial, one of the major companies producing drugs for dogs.

They came up with a winner: a vaccination for dogs that have malignant melanoma, a type of cancer of the skin or mouth.

This is not a vaccine that is used to protect from cancer.  The word vaccine is a bit vague, because in common use this is something that is given in order to protect from a disease.

This vaccine is used only after a dog is diagnosed with melanoma.

Melanoma in dogs has different grades (some are more aggressive than others) and different stages (some have spread farther than others).

The usual stats are pretty dismal for the high grade melanomas, especially of the mouth or on the toes.  Even with standard conventional care, these have a median survival of 2-4 months at worst, and about 5 months or so at best (remember, not every dog follows these stats).

The nice thing about this melanoma vaccine is that it has been shown to triple survival times.  Not too shabby!

The vaccination just got conditional approval by the USDA last May and may be available through an veterinary oncologist near you.

Best to all,

Dr D


Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. Margaret McCreadie on August 21, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Dear Dr Dressler I see on the blog that lots of people write to you directly and you reply to them hopefully I will be lucky and you will reply to me . Murphy is a 13 year lab/ret diagnosised in May with a melanoma on his lower gum it had also spread to his lymph node and his lungs. I live in Scotland so he was sent To the Vet Hospital. Was told the tumour was too spread to the center of his mouth to remove and was advised radiotherapy which I agreed to. I asked about the lymph node what they were going to do as I read it was better to remove it before starting the vaccine which I already agreed to let Murphy have. Reply was it would be treated with radiotherapy during his course, then was told this wasn’t going to be done. Reason given he THOUGHT it was because there was too many muscles etc in that area! On his next visit ( this is a teaching hospital and you see a different vet on each visit) . I again I asked the same question and was told I should consider “his quality of life” I was shocked to hear this as Murphy other than the cancer is fine. Oh how I wish I had pursued this remark as the lymph node has got bigger. He had his course of vaccine 6 weeks ago, he is still enjoying life to the full, loving his food enjoying his walks and last week at Doggie Day in our local Country Park did a Doggie Splash jumping into a swimming pool. He loved that. Could you tell me because if the lymph node is growing this means the vaccine isn’t working. Forgot to say that there is also a lump on the side of of his tonsil which none of the vets have discussed with me just said it had shown on the scan. Please could you answer my questions is there still hope that his lymph node could be removed to enable to let the vaccine work or will it still work regardless if the node gets bigger. Please help me. Thank you.

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on August 22, 2019 at 6:34 am

      Hello Margaret,

      Thanks for writing. As we’re not veterinarians, we can’t offer you medical advice 🙁 Even if we were, we wouldn’t be able to give you our thoughts or advice without all of the information regarding your dog’s case. It does sound like you may be looking for a second opinion, and if you would like, you can book in for a consult with Dr. Dressler directly via his website– http://www.vetinkihei.com

      Warm wishes to you both!

  2. Margaret McCreadie on August 18, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    Hi, Can anyone tell me the procedure of giving the melanoma vaccine is it ok to give on the same day as the

    radiotherapy treatment is being done or is it better to wait until the radiotherapy course has finished. Also is vaccine administered into the same leg or should it be alternate legs each time. I find reading your blog very helpful and informative as I have read so many articles about melanomas since Murphy has become ill. It does help to read how other people are coping when their beloved pets get this awful cancer and see that extra time can be had, every day is so precious to us. Love to you all.

  3. Colleen Murray on June 22, 2019 at 5:44 am

    i would love an opportunity to chat. We have a 12 year old American Cocker with left nasal planum melanoma with left mandibular lymph node metastasis, it is very large, She is still eating, playing and enjoying life, more so in the last week. The Animal \oncology Service here in Ontario saw her and said nothin to be done, Very vascular and bleeds all the time, major bleeds. We brought her home to love and decided to start her on 600mg of Cbd oil daily with thc at night for sleep. we started this on june 17th and today the lymph node is 1/4 size and the nose looks like it is shrinkin or the invidual tumors are becoming defined and white around the edges, not sure what is happening or what will happen next but it seems too remarkable to not tell someone, and no bleeds, no matter how much she rubs her nose no bleeds, not sure why but not complaining and her energy level is through the roof, would like to understand more

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on June 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

      Hello Colleen,

      Thanks for writing! As we’re not veterinarians, we can’t offer you medical advice. However, if you are looking for Dr. Dressler’s thoughts on your dog’s case. You can also request a consult: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/meet-the-veterinarians-dr-dressler/

    • Margaret McCreadie. on August 18, 2019 at 8:31 am

      Hi Colleen, I have a Labrador/retriever that was diagnosed with a melanoma on his gum which was too far advanced to remove so he had radiotherapy which has shrunk the tumor. He also had the melanoma vaccine. The cancer is also in his lymph node and his lungs. He is very fit and at present not showing any outward signs that he is ill. I hope the vaccine works for him but read your article a bout your little dog getting Cbd oil and wondered if I should start Murphy on it. You say that you give 600mg a day and I thought that was quite a large dose as that is nearly the whole bottle that I have seen maybe I have read this wrong? Hope your little one keeps improving , we love them so much.

  4. Karyn on March 18, 2019 at 9:19 pm

    I live in new zealand my vet has mentioned getting the melanoma vacine for my dog who has had a melanoma removed from his mouth clear margins but grew back 2 months later. He is unsure if we can get the vaccine in new Zealand. Plz can you help

  5. A Hish on February 10, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    my dog is receiving the Oncept melanoma vax (his melanoma was inside his lip and was successfully removed with clean margins). My question is, is it advisable to add supplements like medicinal mushrooms/turmeric etc as the vax is an immune enhancer and I don’t want to interfere with it or cause immune problems from an overload. TIA

  6. Susan Kazara Harper on June 25, 2014 at 6:24 am

    Hi Donna,
    I’m so glad your dog is doing well, that’s the most important thing of all. Yet we really can’t give you a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to your question. You’ve had the surgery, and some people would have asked the same question even about surgery for a 12 year old. But you wanted to try it for her, and it sounds like it all went well. Perhaps one thing to consider is this; at some point, the last day will arrive for your dog (it’s just plain unfair that they don’t live as long as we do). Acknowledging this, ask yourself the question, if you and your vet think the vaccine is an option for your dog, when that last day arrives how will you feel if you had tried it? Then, how would you feel if you hadn’t tried it? There are many considerations with all these decisions, and you get to be the one to make them. Your dog loves you and knows you’re doing all the best for her. You’ve got to be content. I didn’t give you an answer, but I hope this helps. Good luck!

  7. Donna on June 24, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Our 12 yr. old Standard Poodle was just diagnosed with melanoma of the lip. Has had two surgeries and second surgery showed clean margins of the primary tumor but spread to the lymph nodes. Will be doing repeat chest x-rays in one week when stitches come out. She seems perfectly healthy otherwise and you wouldn’t know anything was wrong if she didn’t have the stitches and swollen gland. Do we do the vaccine given her apparent health and the fact that her expected lifespan without the cancer would be 12-15 years anyway?

  8. Jason Gworek on April 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

    I just found out two days ago that the growth removed from my 3 yr old chocolate labrador, Murphy, is malignant melanoma. I haven’t met with the vet/oncologist yet, but I am trying to gather as much information as possible on the subject. He mentioned the rate at which the cells split (I’m unsure of the medical term) is 2. Most of the information I find pertains specifically to oral melanoma or the digits. Can you provide me with any information on what we’re looking at for a prognosis? It sounds like 2 years is the best case survival time. Would my dog benefit from this vaccine? Does a special diet improve his outlook? I mostly want to know how much time I can expect to have with my dog (I understand this varies depending on many factors, but any estimate is appreciated) and what questions to ask my vet.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 10, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Hi Jason
      sorry to hear about your dog’s melanoma…so young 🙁
      the location of the melanoma gives us a lot of info about its behavior. the oral and digital melanomas are more malignant. Some of the melanomas on the trunk can be cured with simple wide excision surgery and they behave more like benign growths. The location plus the information on the pathology report can give you and your vet an indicator of whether the expected behavior will be more benign or more malignant.
      Having said that, I routinely change the diets in dogs with melanoma generally. There is a free pdf you can download on the top of this blog.
      I would also read this post:
      Finally, the Guide goes into the comprehensive answer to your question, which is an easy read and was written for exactly that purpose, so I would recommend you read it. It is an easy read and there is a melanoma section as well as details on the supplements, chemo etc.
      I hope this helps,
      Dr D

  9. Sandra S on January 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I have just ordered the Survival Guide to see if there is anything else I am missing. i got the diet and have started to make my dog’s food. I just need to find an Oncologist who will charge me around $300 per shot so I can afford to get my dog the Oncept Melanoma vaccine.

    Do you know why a regular vet cannot give his vaccine?

    it all comes from the same company and they direct the dosage. I have already paid for surgery and the test so it had been determined that vaccine is the next step. It is the same medicine no matter who administers it. This is so frustrating.
    Thank you

  10. Sandra S on January 16, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Anyone know of a reasonable cost Oncologist near new york city???

    My approx 13 chow (not sure how old she was a rescue) had a large tumor on her tongue in the back of her mouth. It turned out to be melanoma but did not appear to spread anywhere else in her body. She had surgery and they were able to remove it. I am giving her everything natural I can find, ie reishi and maitake mushroom, fish oil, krill,NK-9, Curcumin, Ahcc along with her arthritis meds.
    The next step is the Oncept Melanoma vaccine. The only problem is that I cannot afford it. I paid about $3100.00 so far with the tests and the surgery. I live in New york so the amount they want for the vaccine is crazy,
    $140 for 1st office visit $85 after,
    then $700 for each shot –
    total of 4 shots that comes to.$3100.00
    I cannot do it . I am willing to pay more I just can’t go that high. I see some on this blog have paid $300 per Oncept shot which would be $1200.00. I could possibly do another $1200.00 They only sell this stuff to Oncologist so you cannot get it from a regular vet (what a racket).
    Does anyone know of a Vet Oncologist near New York city (within a couple of hours drive) that is more reasonable in cost? I could go to NJ, CT …

    Any lead would be appreciated.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 3, 2013 at 11:46 am

      If you are still looking for an oncologist, you can check http://www.acvim.org, and click on find a specialist near you. Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  11. renee mitchell on December 9, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    My dog has oral melanoma – received radiation and vaccine – did not know about the followup vaccine after 6 months – vet I was seeing did not followup after I switched to another oncologist as I felt like she was not thorough enough –

  12. dana on November 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Hi there,
    My dog is 16 and went through surgery,they removed 75% of his mandible.It turned out to be melanoma.But after 1 month and another general anesthesia because his sutures opened he is doing very well.Prognosis is not good long term but the age of the dog should not make you reluctant about the surgery.
    He learned how to eat within 3-4 days after the surgery.I found that absolutely amazing.They are tougher than us.

  13. Leslie C. on November 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    My 15 yo chow/hound mix (Red) was recently seen by her vet and the vet suspects she has a cancer on her tongue. She has some arthritis issues but is in relatively good health otherwise. She is eating fine, she eats her food and then checks our other dog’s bowl to see if he leaves leftovers. I am planning to start her on the diet recommended here starting tomorrow.

    I am reluctant to pursue surgery because of her age but it sounds like others on the board with elderly dogs have opted for surgery and they’ve pulled through just fine. Can anyone here offer advice on surgery in geriatric dogs? I’m planning to take her to a specialist for evaluation but would like some honest advice from folks here who’ve been through all of this. I’d like to pursue the vaccine as well if it ends up being right for her.

    Thanks all and my heart goes out to everyone here trying to cope.

  14. Maria on October 27, 2012 at 7:44 pm


    As per your request, following is a cost breakdown of Sadie’s treatment:

    Surgery $2,700 Removed jaw, mandibal, cheekbone
    Radiation Treatments $1,000 4 Treatments after surgery, $250 ea.
    Oncept Vaccine $ 300 1 Oncept Vaccine every 2 weeks
    after surgery (8 weeks). Thereafter,
    1 vaccine every 6 months.
    Check-Up & X-Ray $ 120 Every 3 months ($45 + 75)

    Sadie was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma over 28 months ago. She’s still with me, happy, and cancer free. Money well spent, no regrets!

    Take Care,

  15. Maria on October 18, 2012 at 9:22 pm


    I’m so sorry to hear about your little dog. I know what you’re going through. I was also told that my Sadie had only 2 weeks to live, no hope, and not to even try treating her. Well, it’s now 28 months later and she’s still wagging her tail, running around happy, and cancer free! I’d be more than happy to share the cost details of her treatment with you. Please forward me your email address, or phone number if you’d like me to call you.


  16. Pam on October 18, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Just read your blog comments about your dog Sadie. I am faced with almost the exact situation. Adopted a 15yo daschaund from a family member. Took him for dental cleaning and an oral melanoma was discovered about the size of a quarter. This was 8/31/12. As of today it is from side to side in the roof of the mouth. His jaw too is involved as the vet had to pull an upper canine and discovered a hole in the bone. Took him to Columbus for eval. They painted a preety bleek picture as far as options vs. prognosis & life expectancy. We opted not to put him thru treatment. Now I am wondering… Remarkedly he is eating, drinking etc. Does not appear to be in pain. Stands & begs if he thinks u are eating something. As we say in our house, “he is still in there.” Your comments have given me a little hope although I know what we are facing. Would u mind to give me a ballpark estimate of what your treatment cost. u can email me privately if u wish. Thanks, Pam

  17. waly derose on September 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

    My 12 year old female cocker had oral melanoma- was staged -had surgery by board certifed vet- saw Oncologist who gave Merial vaccine and after two doses shd died. If fine needle spirates show reaction go for full biopsy to make certain -in our case she lasted less time than no treatment at all. We were not told the report said “reactive” because the vet tnink it may be due to infection of the tumor-in our case she was wrong -cells escaped to the lungs. Bad mistake.

  18. waly derose on September 11, 2012 at 8:44 am

    My 13 year old female balck cocker was diaganosed with oral malanoma -board certified oncologist recommended surgery after staging and then Merial vaccine. She died after surgery and the second of four schedued injections of the vaccine. Prior to surgery she had one recactive node-vet started it could have been infection rather than cancer-wrong diagnoses- had I known of that I would not have put her through sugery- remember to ask for all reports and have answers to all questions before pursuing odds that are against the pet from the start.

  19. Maria on July 18, 2012 at 9:49 am


    I’m so sorry about your beloved Mitzi. My little Sadie also had a huge 3cm tumor on her jaw (stage III, very advanced and agressive). She’s a miniature daschound only 10 lbs, and therefore the tumor was really huge for her little mouth. She was in a lot of pain, couldn’t bark or eat. It had already spread throughout her jaw and mandibal, and also through her cheekbone all the way up to the very edge her eye socket.

    I owe her survival to the brilliant Surgeon and the University of Wisconson Vetianarian Teaching School in Madison WI who removed her jaw, mandibal, and entire cheekbone with EXTREMELY narrow margins. He was obviously able to get clean margins. This surgeon and Professor of Vetinarian Medicone heads-up the entire entire surgical department at the University, Dr. McNaulghty. He performed her 5 hour surgery himself. The clinic’s head oncologist (Dr. Ruth Ann Chun) had us give her 4 treatments of mild radiation for 4 consecutive weeks on her mandibal in case there were some microscopic cancer cells remaining. The extra radiation treatment was a precaution and optional which I chose to do (highly recommended). Thereafter, she had a series of the Oncept Vaccine every other week for 8 weeks. She now gets a “Booster Shot” every 6 months. After 2 whole years, the oral melanoma has NOT come back, nor has it matasiticized elsewhere in her vital organs. Once again, my local vet told me that without any doubt she had only 2 weeks more weeks to live and said he could do nothing more for her. Thank God I followed my heart and instinct, and went that extra mile to take her to the University of WI.

    Within 2 days after Sadie’s surgery she was TOTALLY back to normal, playing, eating like nothing had happened. Also, there were absolutely NO side-effects to her radiation treatment and/or Oncept Vaccines. Most importantly, she is NOT deformed or anything. You can barely tell that her jaw and checkbone were removed! Within a week she learned to eat and chew her wet dogfood only using the right side of her mouth. Her dogfood kept on squirting out of the left side of her mouth when she tried to eat cuz she had no jaw or cheekbone. It was halarious because she couldn’t figure out why it was happening. I had to follow her around and clean up an awful lot of dogfood all over the floor!

    She’s now 13 years old, full of life, happy, and her normal self – a little “Trouble-Maker!” Once again, I truly feel that I owe her survival to the brilliant and talented surgeon/professor who performed what was incredibly challenging and almost impossible surgery on her, successfully acheiving extremely narrow but clean margins.

    Victoria, I also sent you an email that you may want to read. Therefore, please check your INBOX. Do what your heart and instincts tell you to do. Time is extremely important at this stage of the game.


  20. Louise on July 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hello, We just had a small growth taken off our 9 year old Doberman’s back. The biopsy came back today as malignant melanoma. We are seeing an Oncologist in two days. Zarya also has Dilated Cardiomyopathy. My Veterinarian told me about the melanoma vaccine but I don’t know the name of it. Since Zarya’s system is already compromised by the DCM I am trying to gather as much information as possible before her Oncology appt. on Thursday. I would appreciate any help or information you can give me. Right now Zarya has wonderful quality of life and has no idea she is sick. I would like to keep it that way. Quality of life is everything! I am the List Owner of a 1,000 member group on Yahoo called HealthDobes. Thank you! Louise

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Sorry for the delay. I have been away. By now I assume you have met with the oncologist and are underway with the vaccine. I would not anticipate any complications of the DCM with the vaccine. Good luck and keep us updated!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  21. Victoria on July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Maria & Dr. E,

    Could you tell me more about Sadie and her procedure? My dog, Mitzi, was diagnosed with oral melanoma back in Dec. It is now July, her tumor is VERY large and has invaded the bone and is now in the nasal cavity preventing her from breathing naturally through her nose (she has been breathing through her mouth mainly) and you can tell it is starting to spred up toward her eye 🙁 We have been doing a natural holistic approach, but I’ve had enough because it clearly isn’t working, out Holistic Vet won’t even see my dog anymore because she believes there is nothing we can do now. We were offered surgery as an option back in Dec and I decided against it because of financial reasons and I believed that we could fight it naturally. Seeing where we are now, I wish we would have done the surgery. Mitzi is such a fighter, she really shouldn’t be here but she keeps fighting every day and is the strongest most determined girl I know. She is a 9 yr old labradane. Please email me at Angelshortcake88@aol.com if you can provide any assistance or advice. Is it ever too late to do surgery? How much could they remove if it is already in the bones that effect her eye, the mandibal, and her cheek?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on August 10, 2012 at 8:55 am

      Sorry to hear about Mitzi’s struggles. Unfortunately some dogs are not candidate fir surgery when the tumor is too large and/or affecting the eye region. Conventional radiation may be helpful. Melanoma protocols are often weekly for 4 weeks, so not that may overall treatments. I cannot really comment more because I have not examined her and do not know what the tumor is affecting. A CT scan is best for that. I would encourage you to make an appointment with an oncologist who can examine her adn make more specific recommendations. Good luck!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  22. kathleen on July 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Hi, I followed the cancer guide. My rottie was doing great. I gave her the apocaps/k9 products. I also gave her the melanoma vaccine. My rottie had melanoma on the digit. She was 3. I removed parts of the digit twice. The first part was sent to the lab. Recomendation send remove the rest of the digit. It was done. Unfortunatley my vet did not send that to the lab. I started the melanoma vaccine,. I did nto give my dog radiation too and today I regret it. I wish vets would say this has to be done. I was told it was probably not needed because the lymphnodes where clean and the lungs where clean. Anyway after finishing the vaccine all was still clean. 1 month later all was clean. But 2 months later there where 2 tumours in the lungs. We started the vaccine again. 1 month later there where 6 more tumours. This was feb 2012. June 11,2012 my baby had a seizure. She had 2 in one day. I put her on seizure medicine but she had 6 more. I was suppose to give the seizure medicine twice a day. Well after calling emergency room a few times I was told to give the medicine after each seizure plus the 2 doses. By that time my baby was wreck. I did as they asked but she was so drugged. They told me that many seizures probably means the tumour went to the brain. They could not give her a mri or cat scan because they feared she could not handle the anesthesia. So I put my baby down. I wish I gave radiation with the vaccine. She loved Dr dressler diet and took the pills easily. I hope i made the right decision.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on July 13, 2012 at 3:37 am

      I am so sorry for your loss and all you all went through. Hindsight is 20/20, so try not to second guess everything (I know that is hard). Radiation in general is recommended for digit melanomas if surgical margins are incomplete. The second surgery likely got clean margins. Unfortunately it sounds like the mets/spread was the issue, not the digit (which is what radiation would have focused on).
      Try to focus on all the good times shared through the years! Again so sorry for your loss.
      Dr Sue

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on July 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Dear Kathleen
      You did a very good job.
      Here’s a little thing you might find useful:
      I hope these help
      Dr D

  23. Kuma and Joann on June 23, 2012 at 8:05 am

    This message is for Trish and Grizz back on April 2012 they have a chow mix like my Kuma almost same situation as mine. I wanted to know how they are doing?? Kuma had the debulking twice and melanoma vaccines. The tumor has returned but I believe the vaccine and the strict diet plan thanks to Dr Dressler has kept the tumor controlled and so far has kept it from metastasis. He is now on antibiotics and chemo pills Leukeran. He still likes to go on walks:)

  24. Maria on June 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Dr. Ettinger,

    Thanks for your kind wishes! I was blessed with a brilliant surgeon at the University of Wisconsin (Dr. McNaughty). He’s their head Professor of Surgery and runs their entire surgical department. He performed Sadie’s 5 hour surgery himself (jaw, mandibal, and cheek) and was apparently able to get extremely narrow but clean margins which seemed impossible to do so. This man, along with all the other doctors at the University, the Merial Oncept Vaccine, and GOD have blessed me with a true miracle and more happiness with my little miniature daschound Saide.

    Question – In your medical opinion, does hitting the 2 year mark since her original diagnosis (date of surgery & first vaccine) mean that she’s been completely cured (cancer will never come back again), or just officially in Remission? What’s the medical definition of “Remission?”


    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on June 17, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Maria,
      Congrats on the 2 year anniversary!
      Remission usually means no detectable cancer cells, and for melanoma it may mean normal chest X-rays or CT, normal abdominal ultrasound, but there may sadly be microscopic cells we do not detect with these tests. I am cautious with the cure word with melanoma, but cautious optimism is great! The cancer can still relapse – hopefully it won’t, so enjoy each and every day with Sadie – it is a gift!
      All my best,
      Dr Sue

  25. Maria on June 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm


    Thanks so much for your kind response. The vaccine really does work! My Sadie just had another check-up last week and she’s still cancer free. It’s now been OVER two years since she was diagnosed with advanced Stage III oral melanoma (over 3cm) which had spread throughout her jaw, mandibal, and entire cheekbone. As I mentioned, she was originally given only 2 – 4 weeks to live without the vaccine, and only 5 mos. to live with the vaccine. I strongly recommend that you also have the 4 radiation treatments along with the Oncept Vaccine as an extra precaution. I’m convinced that Sadie’s radiation treatments absolutely did play an important role ensuring that the cancer didn’t return. Please don’t be leary of any radiation side-effects or discomfort cuz it’s not like with human radiation treatments for cancer. My Sadie had NO negative side-effects whatsoever throughout her 4 treatments. I will say a prayer for your little dog. There definitely ARE miracles! Keep in touch and please let me know how things are going.

    Best Wishes,

  26. Jaenie on June 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for your info, Maria. It’s so helpful to hear about others’ experiences with radiation. We started Meriel vaccine today and I am still considering radiation treatments – lucky to have a great vet oncologist who answers all my questions straightforwardly. I am very happy your dog is doing so well!!! Jaenie

  27. Maria on May 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm


    My dog was diagnosed with Stage III oral melanoma 23 months ago. She was 11 years old at the time. My local vet in Chicago gave her only 2 to 4 weeks to live. I took her to University of Wisconsin in Madison. The 3cmm tumor was in her jaw and the cancer had also spread throughout her mandibal and check bone, very advanced. The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital removed her jaw and cheekbone, along with lympy nodes. Very narrow, but clean margins. The following week she started 4 radiation treatments (one per week), along with the ONCEPT vaccine every other week. The radiation treatments were presented as a precautionary and optional measure. I chose to give her these four radiation treatements with NO regret. It’s now been OVER 23 months since her surgery and radiation treatments (with absolutely NO side-effects) and she’s alive and happy, with no reoccurence of cancer anywhere in her body!!! She just turned 13 years old last week. I take her for a check-up every 3 months, and she gets her ONCEPT booster shot every 6 months. I highly recommend that you give her the optional four radiation treatements along with the vaccine.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on June 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm

      SO WONDERFUL to hear about your dog and her response to treatment. Living longer and living well – that’s what treating dogs and cats with cancer is all about! =)
      All my best, Dr Sue

  28. Jaenie on May 23, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Teddy is 9-10 yr. old rescued Golden/Chow mix. Vet discovered 2 small melanoma tumors on far back top of tongue during dental cleaning. She removed them with laser surgery and “good” margins but know always chance of micrometastastis. Lymph nodes appear clear, no lung evidence. We are going with the Merial vaccine for sure but onco vet also pushing coarse-fract radiation treatments (once a week x 4) with risk of longer-term bone necrosis and loss of hair around jaw/chin (where he scratches due to allergies). Anyone had experience with radiation targeting back of tongue tumor(s)? He also has some other health issues (deaf, allergies, irregular heartbeat, heartworm survivor) so I am trying to trade off quality of life v. extra time radiation might provide. Thank you.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on June 2, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      Good local control is important for dogs with melanoma. I would encourage you do do radiation and the vaccine. Typically the benefits of course fractionated radiation outweigh the risks. Check out the chapter in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more info on melanoma. And good luck!!
      All my best, Dr Sue

  29. Kuma and Joann on May 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Kuma and I have decided to try the melanoma vaccine. We had the tumors from the back of the tongue debulked for the 2nd time and we have just completed the 4th shot. It’s been two months now Kuma’s appetite is great he still pulls me on walks and wags his tail! I have started to smell a slight fishy odor coming from his mouth but I am staying optimistic that this vaccine is working! The X-rays so far show no sign of metastasis:)

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on May 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm


  30. Arleen on April 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Hi….We are seriously considering adopting a rescue dog that successfully had a small melanoma lesion removed. The vet’s report indicates that the cancer has not metastasized and the dog is in overall good health. Would she be a good candidate for this “vaccine”? If we are to continue with the adoption process, would someone be willing to give us suggestions as to how to best keep her healthy and boost her immune system?

  31. Joann & Kuma on March 22, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Dear Dr Dressler,
    My 13 1/2 year old chow mix was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. He had a tumor on the back of his tongue and my vet was able to remove most of it. However it has returned and my vet is trying to have it removed again as I am writing this message to you. What if the mass has come back and its worse possibly has gone everywhere? How do I know if he is a good candidate for this new melanoma vaccine? Am I trying to just buy time for myself is it inhumane to keep a dog living longer with cancer? Please advise we need help:(
    Best regards,
    Kuma and Joann

  32. Joann & Kuma on March 22, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    My 13 yr old male chow mix was diagnosed with malignant melanoma on the back of his tongue. My vet was able to debunk the tumor and it was excised but it has returned. My vet will try to debunk the mass again. What if the mass is everywhere now? When is it too late for my dog to be considered a candidate for this new melanoma vaccine? Am I just buying time for myself? is it inhumane to try to keep a dog living as long as he can with cancer? Please help:(
    Best regards,
    Kuma and Joann

  33. Pat on March 21, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    We are contemplating an imminent mandibulectomy on our 14 year old Scottie following the removal of a stage 1 melanoma mass on the gum, lower left side. He is otherwise in good health and a very alert dog. The oral surgeon comes highly recommended by our veterinarian and by the oncologist we saw. We would feel better knowing the opinions of anyone who has gone through the surgery with their dog and would like to know if it was worth putting their dog through the procedure regarding quality of life post-surgery.

  34. Angelique on March 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Our 10 yr 10 month Rhodesian Ridgeback was diagnosed today with high grade melanoma. Two weeks ago he had his eye removed due to a tumor causing glaucoma. The biopsy of the eye came back today and was malignant. Does this vaccine work for dogs with melanoma of the eye? Our vet said is prognosis is guarded. His surgery and recovery went very well, but as of yesterday he has stopped eating and is very lethargic.

  35. Beatrice Coates on March 20, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Our retiever/chow was recently diagnosed with melanoma. She had the golf ball size growth removed, from her gums, as well as her left lymphlode. She has had her first vaccination and requires 3 more. The vaccinations are costing us approximately $540.00 apiece. (St. Louis, MO area) According to our Oncologist, she has a promising prognosis. We realize it’s not a cure, and the expense is burdensome, but any extra time with her is well worth it.

  36. Mary Kate Doyle on February 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    My 9 yr old king Charles cavalier was diagnose with malignant melanoma 7 weeks ago . 2cm mass removed from her mouth . No clear margins . Cxr clear at the time . I have decided to not treat her with the vaccine . She may also have Cushing’s disease . And she also has tested positive for lyme ‘s disease . I don’t know what to be looking for . Dr said 3-6 months . But guarded .. She is my heart and I don’t want her to suffer .. Recently she has been cough gagging intermittently .. And stretching her neck and swallowing funny when not eating .. She has no problem with food in her dish . What kind of testing should I presume ? The dr last week prescribed some meds for reflux .. Appreciate any help

  37. Darah McGroarty on February 18, 2012 at 12:17 am


    My Puggle died from an immune reaction to this oral melanoma vaccine. She was sick (Malaise, lethargy) for 4 days after the first vaccine. She was sick for a full 8 days after the second vaccine and we were not going to give a third vaccine shot due to this. She had a severe reaction about 9 days after the second shot with red circles around her belly. We rushed her to the Specialty Vet ER where she was in serious condition. Her immune system was attacking her bone marrow and had stopped all platelets from being released. Her red blood cell count dropped and she was given three blood transfers, plus a canine med to boos her platelet count (didn’t work) and then a human medication to again try to boost her platelet count. The human med helped but the dog either bled into her lungs or threw a clot and was dead. She was fighting to survive and the two Vet Specialty Oncologists and Internists (Board Certified) all stated that this oral melanoma vaccine was the cause of her immune reaction and death. Her treatment to try to save her from the vaccine reaction is around $20k. Vets MUST alert owners to the fact that this vaccine like all vaccines may cause reactions and to be on guard for any changes including lethargy. Merial will be alerted to this death but I expect they will NOT include it within their data or change their “NO SIDE EFFECTS” marketing sentence. Be on guard that at least one dog has died from this oral melanoma vaccine and four board certified vets are aware of this.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on February 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Dear Darah
      I am very saddened to hear this news. I am sorry.
      This is an important event for dog guardians to know about.
      I will keep my eyes open for more of the same information and see if this is a repeating event.
      Dr D

  38. Darah McGroarty on February 10, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I don’t mean to rain on the dog oral vaccine but a few things must be noted and watched for with this vaccine.
    Our puggle had an oral melanoma removed, radiation along margins and in lymph even though 7 biopsies did not reveal cancer in those specimens. She was given her first oral melanoma on day on of the five day radiation period. For the next four days she looked and acted like a sick dog with lethargy and the typical sick look in her eyes. I called Merial to get info and was told again that she may have a low grade fever but no other side effects. They took my info and their vets contacted my oncologogist vet. Their vets told my vet that indeed, some dogs do react in the same manner as my dog for about three days. Two weeks later, she was given her second oral melanoma vaccine and was sick for over a week and still not normal a day away from her third shot. I contacted our oncologogist vet and he found this unusual. We debated giving her the third vaccine. The day before she was to have her third vaccine I caught her licking her girl parts that had just been treated with proper meds for a UTI. every time I saw her lift her legs to lick I tan over to see which part of her lower area she was licking. I emptied anal glands and that was not the problem. About one hour after grabbing her legs and seeing where she was licking I was shocked to see large round red areas on her belly. Off to local ER vet who realized we needed to make the long trip to the specialty vet hospital where she had her oral surgery, radiation and first two vaccinations.
    Her blood work showed that her platlets were dangerously low, but RBC was acceptable. Vets determined that her immune system was killing off the platlets and she was put on large amounts of IV steroids to try to get her body from continuing to destroy platlets. By the next day in the ER vet hospital, the red marks had enlarged, spread further up, down, out and into her eye. The oncologogist vet and I, the observant layperson dog mother, believe that this oral melanoma vaccine may have caused this intense, fast moving immune reaction. She is still at the hospital on two different steroids and her condition is guarded. My husband and I are bracing for the phone call that she did not survive.
    Although there is no hard core proof that this oral melanoma may have caused this immune system reaction, both the oncologogist vet and my husband and I do believe this vaccine (possibly adjuvents) is in fact responsible for this aggressive immune reaction. The vet did say that it would not be unlikely to see such an immune response after a vaccine, but he was not clear if he meant this particular vaccine.
    So, although this dog oral melanoma vaccine may be a god send for some dogs I feel I must alert others to watch their dog’s response very carefully after this vaccine as my husband and I did. Alert your oncologogist vet about any reaction and be on guard.

    Remember: each dog and cancer is unique and will respond in their own ways. Please note that my dog may die shortly due to this intense platlet destroying immune response. She is in guarded condition and the hope is that the two steroids will stop the body from attacking platlets. But we won’t know that for many weeks IF she survives this serious episode. We love this dog as a human child and our hearts will be broken when she passes. We were told that this was NOT a magic bullet vaccine but that it had no side effects save low grade fever. That was not the case as the Merial vets admitted to my oncologogist vet. We were told that no dog deaths have been reported but that claim would be hard to refute as you do not know what else was going on in the dogs body pre vaccination. This dog’s bloodwork was fine. CT showed no cancer in internal organs and in fact the organs looked quite good for a 13 year old dog who had undergone surgery, radiation and medications. She was actually in good shape and quite possibly we should not have given her this vaccine. However, marketing reports showed longer survival times with surgery, radiation, and this vaccine so of course we would do all three plus other immune enhancing treatments, cancer diet change, etc. Those are marketing reports without enough real world data reporting yet.

    Bottom line is to watch your dog super carefully after this vaccine for ANY reactions at all. This is a new vaccine and Merial does not have enough reported data on this vaccine. Beware and be on guard with this vaccine, other vaccines and of course, any medications and treatments. The obvious blanket statement.

    Thank you.

  39. cheryl on January 19, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Hi Dr Dressler,

    My 16 year old cocker spaniel was diagnosed with oral melanoma 4 months back and we removed the 2cm lump from her gums, immediately put her through the initial 4 oncept vaccines and did everything recommended in your cancer guide plus apocaps.

    She’s been well and a week back when I brought her back to the vet, another smaller lump near the original site was discovered and we immediately debulk it too.

    Q1) I am wondering since there is a new lump whether I should do the whole initial 4 vaccines every 2 weeks again (making it 8 initial 2 weekly vaccines) and then only follow up with her 6 monthly booster?

    Q2) As I do not want to put her through chemo, would you recommend that her 6 monthly booster in the future to be a 3 monthly booster? Reason is cancers mutate and I want to wipe it out from her system ASAP as much as possible to increase her survival time.

    Q3) What is the reason for there to be a fixed recommended 4 intial 2 weekly oncept vaccine and then a 6 monthly maintenance booster? Can we chande the schedule to be more aggressive in out treatment protocol?

    Q4) Also I have a rottie with osteosarcoma and is putting her on 9 apocaps a day with piroxicam. Is that ok? Her cancer cannot be removed and it has spread to her lungs. Is there anything I can do to slow the spread or control the growth at her lungs? It is critical now.

    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Best Wishes,

  40. debbie calvert on January 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    My rott/dob diagnosed with malignant melonoma on upper jaw saw oncologist suggested ct scan, surgery, maybe radiation if roots, or a new study to shrink tumor, dillon is 11.5 yrs old male. waiting for ct scan to do monday. jan 16. We would like to try the new vaccine without surgery, has anyone tried without surgery first? Our vet used laser on the sites that was the only treatment, looks like it is growing back already. We are at a loss and need advice from anyone out there with a similiar situation. the study would not allow the new vaccine to be used.

    P.s. to robin, your situation sounds similiar to ours. I am sorry to hear about your loss.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      Dear Debbie, it seems there may be a survival benefit to the vaccine without surgery or radiation. It does not seem to shrink the tumors however, yet the median survival in dogs with advanced and spread cancer (that could not be removed) was over a year..so that is better than otherwise.
      Of course you will want to use as many tools as possible as discussed in the Guide
      Dr D

  41. Robin on January 3, 2012 at 7:41 am

    My golden retriever was diagnosed with melanoma just before his 10th birthday. He had a lump on his gum which we had removed. After considering surgery, radiation and the vaccine, we decided to go with the vaccine alone. He had the full round of vaccines and after two years, the cancer vet said he could be considered to be in full remission. He recommended booster shots, but we opted to stop treatment at the time. He was recently euthanized at 13 years 4 months due to conditions my regular vet said were simply due to old age. There was no evidence of reoccurance of melanoma. It won’t work for every dog, but I had an extra three plus years with my beloved dog due to the vaccine.

  42. G. Pomerance, MD on November 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Our 13 year old German shorthair, who suffers from spinal stenosis with resulting neurologic deficits, developed MM in the posterior buccal area which at time of discovery was necrotic and bloody. Our vet removed it en bloc which didn’t phase the dog, but now we are faced with the prospects of more surgery, RT and CT. What would be your advice for a dog so close to the end of life?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on November 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

      Dear Dr. Pomerance
      A relevant post to read which should answer this question:
      keep me posted on your thoughts

  43. Bryan Long on September 2, 2011 at 3:18 am

    My wife and I feel as though we were cheated. We had to put our golden retriever “Gracie” down just 3 days ago. She had malignant melanoma of the skin. It first showed its horrible, ugly face as a tumor on her toe. After amputating her toe, we took her to MSU in Lansing, MI. They decided that the melanoma vaccine would be best for her. I beg to differ that now, because once Gracie was diagnosed with melanoma, on July 8th, she was given 3 of the initial 4 melanoma vaccine injections and her condition worsened rapidly! So many more mass lumps keep popping up all over her body. She developed a tumor on her back knee bone…which she would not walk on. She became so short of breathe and just stopped eating for the final 2 days we had her. We were told that the melanoma vaccine had a better survival rate them chemo….within 7 weeks of her initial diagnosis…we had to do a dog lovers worst nightmare, we had to put our sweet, loving, affectionate, caring 4 year old golen retriever down…and she was just barely 4 years old, her birthday is July 16. I just wish we were told that she didn’t have much time left, because I wouldn’t of put her through all the melanoma vaccine injections and surgeries…knowing how rapidly it spread after the vaccines where administered. Gracie didn’t deserve that. Your forever in our hearts Gracie…”our sweet baby dirl” as Mommy would call you.

    • DemianDressler on September 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm

      Dear Bryan,
      sending you my thoughts during this difficult time of departures. So sorry you and Gracie had to go through this.

  44. Betty on July 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Apollo was diagnosed in sept 2010 and with surgery to remove tumor given 3-6 m. No “vaccine” but another surgery later, he is still with us and doing fairly well for a 12 year old doggie. I haven’t researched this site but please, don’t buy in to miracle cures. Life cycles are what they are; we just give Apollo the best quality of life we can and are thankful for the 12 + years we have enjoyed with him!

  45. Nancy on July 15, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Dr Dressler,

    My oncology said that the vaccine won’t work on Raider. I did not ask why.

    Is it OK to try graviola along with your Apocaps? Do you think graviola has the same effect like Neoplasene (make hole)?. Is it worth to try?

    Do you have any blog about Graviola? I’ve heard about using graviola in human cases from the boiled leaf in Indonesia, which have a “burning feeling/sensation” of the effected areas, but indeed make the cancer disappear. Then I searched on the net, and not so many cases found in dog. Here is one of the blog that seems work in a dog.


  46. Shel on July 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Hi Dr Dressler,

    Our 10.5 year old golden girl was diagnosed with melanoma back in February. She had her 3rd eyelid removed and has since gone through 4 chemotherapy (carboplatin) sessions. Unfortunately, on her 4th chemo session, they found her lymph nodes to be enlarged. A biopsy revealed that there was melanin present. An xray and scan of her vital organs showed that they are all clear so far. The treatment protocol now has been shifted to another series of chemotherapy, this time with Dtic, followed by the melanoma vaccine. Throughout all these,
    she has maintained the same energy and love for life, bounces back from each chemo session and surgery, has a great appetite and loves her exercise. She gets home cooked foods with higher protein content and complex carbs like brown rice or quinoa. And we supplement that with salmon oil and a multivit powder that was recommended by the nutritionist.

    My worry is that melanoma is known to be resistant to chemotherapy, so should we be going straight to the vaccine without wasting more time and money on chemotherapy? And should we be supplementing her diet with anything else? They are saying our girl probably has less than 6 months to go.

    • DemianDressler on July 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Dear Shel,
      it seems you would be well served to educate yourself on what else you can be doing, which was the purpose of the Guide.
      One of the first things we discuss in the Guide is getting the data you need and answering the proper questions.
      Here is one of these questions to ask your oncologist:
      What would you guess is the gained life expectancy comparing melanoma vaccine+chemotherapy with vaccine alone?
      As to supplements, yes, i would consider (under veterinary supervision) apoptogens, immune support, and flax lignans to start.
      Hope this helps

  47. Nancy on July 8, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    Raider (11 lbs, 9 years male pomeranian) was diagnosed with Oral Melanoma Sarcoma on fourth premolar n the upper right hard palate. It was 1.5 cm when 1st discover (May 2nd), become 3 cm after all of the testing (aspirates of the lymph nodes, chest X-ray) (within 2 wks). Now the main liason is abt 5 cm and also the outer gum towards the right lip or most likely from the main tumor spread out sideways crossing the molar and in the back of his eye (my vet can not move the eyeball when he is pushing it). There are some discharge on his nose with a tint of blood. My doctor said, that he saw a hole inside the mouth towards the nose, so he’ll expect that the food will started to come out from his nose in a near future. He is in clavamox, tramadol, sucralfate (occassionally), and Apocaps and your diet guideline.

    Raider is picky eater, so I blend all his food and put in his mouth with syringe. For the past 2 days, he is fighting the meal time.He run and hide every time he saw syringe. I administered the meds during the mealswith syringe. He hates tramadol and shake his head off everytime I gave him that.

    He is still alert, barking, and like to go with us in a car ride. Eat a little meat/cooked chicken liver by hand. Started loosing weight.

    (May 25th), when the marker was about 3.5 cm, I took him to a reputable teaching hospital at UC Davis (oral and dental surgery center) and the Drs said Raider is not a good candidate for surgery because it’s larger than 2 cm. “It is not fair for the dog” if we do it anyway, due to possible metastasis (although X ray n aspirates says “clear”.

    If we opt for radiation will leave a hole and will be a problem in about 8 months time frame. So, we opt out because I don’t want to make Raider to face bigger problem and suffers twice when the cycle came back just to buy time for myself.

    1. At this stage (over 5 cm), is the Melanoma Vaccine alone (no radiation, no chemo, no surgery) can help? — what is the side effect? Big holes?

    2. Neoplasene treatment (I read on your blogs)? Why no vet and oncologist mention about it? Was it only available through holistic vet?
    I read about neoplasene salve case study on oral melanoma (see page 80) http://www.buckmountainbotanicals.net/pdf/Discussion%20and%20Case%20Histories.pdf. How is the salve made?

    3. Antiangiogenic treatment? Where can I find this treatment? Is it also available only through holistic vet only? None of the vets mention this as an option.

    If I want to give a shot to my last resources, which treatment (or combine treatment) can slow the growth of the melanoma sarcoma without decreasing the quality of life that he currently have?

    God Bless you, Dr Dressler. Your time in replying is greatly blessed. Other readers who has suggestion, please email me nadiwijaya@hotmail.com. Thanks!

    • DemianDressler on July 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Dear Nancy,
      the melanoma vaccine does not leave big holes that I have encountered. So that’s an option and there is some emerging evidence that it may benefit without chemo. Neoplasene leaves holes.
      Antiangiogenic treatment is a possibility. I included botanicals with these effects in my apoptogen supplement. Could talk to your onc about metronomic chemo.

  48. Anne Marie on July 7, 2011 at 11:15 am

    As an addendum to my earlier note today: I have contacted a well regarded cancer specialist and have secured an appointment for tomorrow ( Rebecca Risbon and Bob Orsher [PHILA PA]- he was my vet’s prof in med school). They have on-site MRI, am requesting either that or a CAT scan for baseline diagnostics. My vet has suggested possibly laser surgery – can have better results where location is difficult and excessive bleeding is a consideration. In general research I read that organic cottage cheese and flaxseed oil can be beneficial, also Vitamin A, B Complex, C, and E, and last but not least parsley (the seasoning) which I have growing in my garden. Appreciate any suggestions you can give me for questions to ask the Oncologist… thanks again! Anne Marie

  49. Anne Marie on July 7, 2011 at 8:15 am

    My 11 year old female chow was just diagnosed with a mass in her mouth. The mass is mushroom shaped, on a wide stalk located on her middle of the roof of her mouth. She was taken into the OR this morning… the surgeon reported these findings: the mass extends backwards down the throat approx. 8 cm. Her chest X-Rays, Head and Neck films are clear with no disinguished spread of the cancer. Blood work is good with a small increase in white cell count (18,000). Lymph nodes on visual and physical exam are not swollen. Due to the location of the mass my surgeon is not advocating surgery (difficult location prove to bleeding during surgery). I can not sit by and do nothing – want a proactive approach to at least try to help my girl. My dog is very active, strong and healthy (alpha female). Her symptoms have presented as excessive drooling and some diminished appetite. The Merial MCC vaccine looks promising but I don’t know how they can stage the mass (no biopsy)… and if my girl is even a candidate. Looking into options now… think an MRI would be beneficial to determine the extent of the mass invasion in the surrounding area. Would appreciate your thoughts… also looking into holistic options.
    Thank you,
    Anne Marie

  50. Maria on June 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    I just wanted to give you an update on my little Sadie – Good News! She recently had her 1 year check-up and there’s NO evidence of cancer! If you recall, my miniature dachshound was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma in July 2011 with only 1 month to live. The cancer had severely spread throughout her jaw and cheekbone. The University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital removed her jaw, and she had 4 radiation treatments along with the miracle ONCEPT Vaccine. Happily, the melanoma in her mouth and jaw has not returned and appears to be localized. To-date the cancer hasn’t spread to her lungs or any other parts of her body. She is happy once again, full of energy and love, and eats like a little pig! She’s plays with my other two dogs just like she’d never been sick at all!

    Have you seen Dr. Bergmans most recently published 2011 clinical study results based on a group of 58 dogs suffering from Stages I – IV Oral Melanoma being treated with the ONCEPT VACCINE? The Medium Survival Times are very impressive. Most importantly, approximately 25% of these dogs are still alive after 3+ years. I continue to pray that my little Sadie will break all the records!

    I do have two questions:

    #1). Is it okay to feed her a very high protein diet? I’ve been feeding her dog foods which are 55% to 69% protein, and only 1% to 10% carbs. She loves them.

    #2). Don’t laugh at my second question! Is it okay for me to feed her 2 hard-boiled eggs every morning? Yes, believe or not, that’s her favorite food. She has a real egg addiction! She relentlessly barks at me each morning until she hears the water boiling!


    • DemianDressler on July 6, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Dear Maria,
      as long as liver and kidney function are okay, and she tolerates the diet, and you are using it with veterinary supervision, I believe you will be okay.
      And as to eggs, sure, with the same caveats as above, and there is no pancreatitis history.
      I am very happy to hear this good news!!!!
      Dr D

  51. Joe Winters on May 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    My dog poppy was put to sleep yesterday, 31/05/11 he was 13. White with brindle, shortcoat staffordshire cross bull terrier. He had Melanoma. I made the choice of putting him to sleep after months of tryin to avoid i., He was n agony n I no longer wanted him to suffer. traumatic experience for the kids n myself but weve lived through it, had happy times with our beloved pop pop, Considered we are going to get another pet to enjoy many years to come, but will not take th place of our boy poppy.. time to write new history with our new dog to be.

    • DemianDressler on June 1, 2011 at 7:20 pm

      Dear Joe,
      our thoughts are with you during this hard time.
      Dr D

  52. georgia on May 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I ‘d like to ask you, if you know any veterinarian specialised in cancer ,practicing his profession in GREECE. if so please , if you are so kind to send me his contact information.
    Best regards

    • DemianDressler on May 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      Dear Georgia,
      try for the veterinary school at the Aristotle University.
      Dr D

  53. Cheryl on April 26, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Our pomeranian was just diagnosed with amelanotic melenoma. It is attached to the eyelid of the left eye. Would the vaccine help his survival rate? The vet is going to try to surgically remove the mass tomorrow. Please let us know, we are really struggling with this diagnosis.



    • DemianDressler on April 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm

      Dear Cheryl,
      The research covering the vaccine was with pigmented melanoma, so we have to guess. The enzyme that the vaccine uses to target is reduced in amelanotic melanoma by about half. This means that the efficacy likely will be less in amelanotic melanoma, but I feel it would still help. Wait for the biopsy though to help with the anticipated behavior and the need for further steps.
      I would consult with an oncologist about it (few vets can get it) and don’t forget your other steps, including diet, apoptogens, immune support, brain chemistry modification, and anti metastatic therapies…
      Dr D

  54. brian fleming on March 29, 2011 at 1:00 am

    Last thurs. had a mass cut out of my lab’s mouth, it came back as melanoma, what is the cost of the vaccine treatment? also does this cure it or just hold it at bay, and in reality are you just buying time? We are in no finicial way to afford bigtime cost treatments, but I must say I have to figure a way, my family is torn apart, we love this guy tremendously and my 10 and 6 year old are taking it really hard as well as me, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    The Fleming Family

    • DemianDressler on April 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm

      Dear Fleming Family,
      I am sorry to hear this news. The vaccine cost varies depending on location and you need to do the research locally with an oncologist as there is no set fee I can quote you. It does good though- it is safe and if you look at the group of dogs receiving the vaccine it increases the survival time (as a group) by about three times. It does not cure cancer though.
      I might suggest you check out the Guide– it can help you in difficult times-

  55. Maria on March 4, 2011 at 3:43 am

    Dr. Dressler,

    My little Sadie had her 120 day check-up this week at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Hospital. She finished her series of Oncept Vaccines and radiation treatments last October 2010. The great news is that so far the melanoma has NOT returned in her mouth/jaw, nor has it spread anywhere else in her body. I’m not losing sight of reality, but to me this has been like an unbelievable miracle considering that my local vet only gave her 1 month to live. I have to take her back to U of W in April for her 6 month Oncept booster shot. I highly recommend this vaccine to any pet-owners with dogs suffering from oral melanoma. There were absolutely no side-effects whatsoever.

    I do have an important question for you. Would you recommend that I now start giving her Apocaps to further boost her immune system? As I said, she completed her Oncept Vaccines 4 months ago. Would it be safe and beneficial for me to further supplement her health with Apocaps? If there’s anything else in addition to Apocaps that you’d recommend please tell me.


    • DemianDressler on March 8, 2011 at 9:53 pm

      Dear Maria
      In my practice we would use Apocaps, more for the apoptosis effect than the immune boosting effect. Have you read the Guide? Also consider beta glucans (K-9 Immunity and transfer factor) and some omega-3’s, among other things. The dog cancer diet is a good choice too in my opinion (free download on top of this site page. Remember that all steps should be done under veterinary supervision too…
      Dr D

      • Trish & Grizz on April 16, 2012 at 11:40 am

        Thank you so much for your response. Radiographs and blood work is showing positive signs of it not having spread yet, but I am aware of micrometastasis, and am taking these test results with a grain of salt. The excision of the tumor went well – the surgeon was extremely pleased at his ability to remove it. We are going to recheck the surgical site (tongue) in two weeks and then likely start the vaccine since they feel it is his best option. One last question if I may – do you recommend spending money for a CT scan to understand if there has been an undetectable spread? Or do you treat and hope for the best?

        Thanks again for all the great information – I’ll definitely pick up a copy of your Guide.

    • Maria on April 12, 2012 at 4:24 pm


      I have a 13 year old miniature daschound who was diagnosed with Stage III Oral Melanoma. Her tumor was 3cm in size. My local vet (in Chicago) gave her only 1 month to live. I took her to the University of Wisconsin in Madison WI. It’s one of the best Veterninary Teaching Schools in the country and are very well-known for their Oncology reasearch. She had a full mandibulectomy, and she also had her lower jaw and cheek bone removed (all the wat up to her eye socket), with VERY narrow margins. Believe it or not, two days later she was totally fine, eating like a little pig and playing as if nothing had happened! Visually, you can’t even tell that she’s missing her jaw, mandibul, and cheek bone. I was told by the head of the univerity’s surgical department who did the surgery himself (Dr. McNaulty – the surgery ook 5 hrs.) that a jaw removal on a dog was not at all uncommon, or as scary as it sounded. He compared it to a root canal on a person. He was totally right. After the surgery my dog had 4 precautionary radiation treatments, along with the ONCEPT vaccine. The great news is that it’s been 22 months and the cancer has NOT returned!!! The surgery and ONCEPT vaccine saved her life. I’m so thankful that Dr. McNaulty and Dr. Chun reassured me to go through with the surgery and treatment, even though she had stage III melanoma that had spread into her jaw, mandibal, and cheek bones. I realize that treatment doesn’t always work. However, sometimes it DOES work! Based on the most recent clinic result statistics published Dr. Berger (founder of ONCEPT vaccine), appromimately 50% of all Stage I melanoma dogs and 25% of Stage II and II melanoma dogs are still living 3 years after treatment!!! If you love your dog as much as I love mine, then I highly recommend that you do follow through with the mandibulectomy, radiation, and vaccine. My dog s uffered absolutely NO side affects from anything, the surgery was NOT that big of a deal, and most importantly she is still alive and happy. There was only one negative thing. It took my little doge a couple of weeks to figure out a new way to eat her soft dogfood. For 2 weeks after her surgery I was cleaning up a lot of dogfood off the floor because it was squirty out of the left side of her mouth because she didn’t have a jaw to keep it in her mouth! Good luck and keep me posted.


  56. Sherry Martinez on February 28, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    I have an St Bernard and today had found out she has melanoma :(….She is my everything, i found out she had the cancer too late doctor said she has maybe 6weeks left which just tore me apart…im trying everything and been searching online for hours and hours for info and i was wondering would your Drug help out my dog ? She has problems breathing and drools everywhere but worst thing is she does not want too eat if so its tortillas.So plz get back too me !


    • DemianDressler on March 8, 2011 at 10:09 pm

      Dear Sherry,
      I think you are talking about Apocaps? If so, it is a supplement which is designed to increase the turnover of cells so that more normal cells and less deranged cells are in the body. It may help but it is not a cure for cancer. Have you considered an oncologist visit? The melanoma vaccine? There are also other steps and supplements in the Guide that might help too.
      I hope this helps a little,
      Dr D

  57. Larry on January 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    @ Bob Irwin,

    Did you ever figure out the answer to your question re: prednisone and the melanoma vaccine? We are facing a similar situation, utilizing the melanoma vaccine to beat back progress of the disease but also needing (been prescribed) to use pred. for a different need. I would appreciate hearing anything that you have learned!

  58. Lilian on January 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Hi, Dr. Dressler,

    my dog Joyee got Amelanotic Melanoma, he had been eating well and we try to give him soft food. but lately I found that his mouth had really bleed a lot, and it made his mouth had really bad smell, I had try to use wet towel and dog dental water to wash his mouth and teeth, do you have any other way that can make him feel better?

    thank you,

  59. Maria on January 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm


    I would highly recommend that you contact the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in Madison Wisconsin. They are one of the top and most well-known Animal Oncology Research Hospitals in the country. I’ve been told that their clinic receives more research grants for cancer, etc., than any other veterinary facility in the country. They’ve been treating my little dog for Oral Melanoma since August 2009. Thus far, the ONCEPT Vaccine along with radiation treatments has worked successfully (see info in my previous postings). She’s well and alive, even though back in August my vet in Chicago only gave her 1 to 3 months to live.

    I suggest that you contact Dr. RuthAnne Chun at the University. She along with a Dr. Vail are Professors of Oncology and together run the entire Animal Oncology Department. She’s compassionate and brilliant. The medical faculty at the University of Wisconsin’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital is huge with dozens of doctors and medical school residents from all over the world, possibly even Romania. Universities frequently “Share” their research and treatments with other countries. Therefore, I strongly suggest that first try calling the U of W for information on how and where to get the ONCEPT Vaccine in Romania.

    The following website will link you directly to background information on their impressive Oncololy medical staff:


    Again, I highly recommend that you first try contacting Dr. RutheAnn Chun. The phone number at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital is 608-263-7600.

    Good Luck,

  60. Maria on October 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you SO much! Better understanding the basis of how the MST numbers are determined has truly helped me emotionally. No one had ever explained or appropriately defined the MST statistics to me. I simply assumed that the MST was calculated via a black & white “Straight Average,” painting a very grim survival time with almost no room for fluctuation and/or hope. Having once been a Math Major in college, I can now at least hope that my little Sadie will fall within the wider range of the “Right Skewed MST Distribution,” and therefore possibly live much longer than the 6 to 9 month MST statistic she was tagged with. She’s a little fighter, and if anyone can do it, she will! I won’t lose sight of reality, but I’ll now at least be able to take a stronger grasp on hope.

    FYI – I’ve recently found several new articles on the internet (April – Sept 2010) saying that now with the addition of Oncept Vaccines to local control, the most recent clinical statistics have shown that the survival time for dogs with Stages II and III melanoma has increased to greater than 2.5 years (originally less than 6 mos.). Do you have an opinion on that?

    Thanks Again,

  61. Maria on September 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    The University of Wisconsin’s vaccine for Oral Melanoma is only $350 per injection which includes everything. There are 4 biweekly shots & a booster shot 6 months thereafter. Also, I received a substantial $ credit towards my bill via my authorization for the hospital to use dog’s melanoma tumor, urine & blood samples, and catscans for further melanoma research in their research labs. I of course said yes, not just to reduced my cost/bill, but mostly because I would like my distressing situation to possibly help them in finding a cure to this fatal cancer. As I previously mentioned, they are wonderful, caring, and top rated physicians.

    Correction – My little dachsund has Stage III Oral Melanoma (not Stage II as I previously mentioned). They removed her left jaw with no deformity at all! You can’t even tell that she’s had any surgery. The surgeons at University of Wisconsin are phenomenal. She’s already had her first of four radiation treatments, as well as her first vaccination. So far, she seems normal and happy as a lark, is eating like a little pig (especially McDonalds cheeseburgers) and is chasing squirrels once again. I cherish each and every day that I see her like this, but cry when I realize that it may all suddenly come to an end any day.

    Has anybody had a dog with Stage III Oral Melanoma? If so, can you share with me your experience, and give me a realistic idea as to what I can expect with regards to her possible lifespan (5 – 9 months, 1 – 3 years, etc.)?


    • Laura Weinstein on January 6, 2011 at 6:39 am

      I have a 11 & 1/2 yr old boxer Harley. I live in New Orleans, LA. A tumor was discovered way, way back on Harley’s tongue. He has had 2 biopsies, the first of which the pathologist concluded the tumor was liposarcoma. As my vet and a local oncologist found this conclusion questionable, they suggested I go to LSU Veterinary School. They did their own biopsy and concluded it is either a liposarcoma, granular cell tumor or melanoma, or some other soft tissue sarcoma. No grading was provided. The mitotic rate was 4. The tumor is rather large (4 cm.) and cannot be surgically removed unless entire tongue is removed (I don’t want to do that!). We had 2 round of radiation, but to my disappointment upon going to LSU for 3rd round this past Monday 1/3/11, I was told the tumor has grown about 1/2 cm. They expect this will lead to Harley’s breathing being obstructed and at that point suggest euthanizing him. I am continuing prednisone and antibiotics. I feel so helpless as I’ve never gotten a solid answer on what type of cancer this is and furthermore pretty much have been told all alternatives have been exhausted. I’ve read for hours, days and have found so much regarding supplements, vaccines, etc. but question why no vet who I’ve consulted with has mentioned any of this. I am willing to travel wherever I need to if there is help. Any thoughts on whether this vaccine can help Harley? Thank you so much.

      • DemianDressler on January 13, 2011 at 10:23 am

        Dear Laura,
        so sorry for this frustrating situation. The melanoma vaccine has had good successes with melanoma, and if this is on the list, I would consider it if you are at the end of the road with options. The side effects are very minimal and there is good upside.
        Have you read the Guide? There is a lot that can be done in the arena, of diet, immune stimulation, Apocaps (click here), other supplements, and more that I use in my patients. It is an easy read.
        Dr D

  62. FunnyBoscar on January 28, 2009 at 10:14 pm


    My Cocker spaniel dog Boscar, age ~9 years. He has heart murmur for
    about 5 years and has melanoma in his mouth. The melanoma was
    detected in Aug.2007. Since then he had surgery, Cancer vaccine,
    Chemo and now we are giving just painkiller. I also asked vet to
    give some sleep aid (Which he is not started on yet)

    Below is the summary of the main events:

    Aug 2007 – In a routine exam, vet saw a mass growth in his mouth (remember he did not refer/know it was cancerious) and suggested to
    remove the so called mass of tissues. Which was removed(or scrapped off as told by vet) the next day (Also, Vet did not sent the mass to the pathologist) – Cost of the surgery – Approx. $800

    Feb.2008 – While giving his arthritis medication, i noticed similar
    mass of tissue in the same area. Immidiately called Doctor,got
    appointment next day and scheduled surgery 3 days later –
    Cost of the surgery – Approx. $800

    The second time doctor told us that he did not expect that mass will grow so fast (remember he did not know that it can be cancerious)
    and he send that mass to pathologist. 3 days later we were informed that he has melanoma, a kind of cancer. He referred us to oncology
    specialist(nearly 25 miles from our home).
    Since we saw our neighbours dog had cance and it is alive even after 6 years, we did not think/told it is of aggressive kind.

    fEB 2008 – Less than a week after the second surgery, We took Boscar to the oncology speciality vet, there they did some blood work,
    x-ray,…etc (COST – approx.$900). Then a surgery was scheduled/then
    was done for removng left upper jaw(COST- $3500)

    After the (Jaw removal) surgery, Vet suggested to give the Cancer vaccine to increase the survival chance.These cancer vaccine was
    given once every 15 days for 2 months (4 shots). The cost of each
    vaccine was $450. (Later i saw in the internet, cost of each shot
    is 250$).The vaccine was started from march – may(COST= 450*4 = $1800)

    Sep 2008 – After our trip from abroad for a month (Boscar was in our home and a friend stayed and took care of him), we took Boscar for a
    routine checkup. They did some x-rays, blood work etc.
    This time they told us that the cancer has spread to his lungs and that we need to give him chemo. If we give the chemo also, the vet said he would survive less than 6 months.So, the chemo was stated in Sep. (COST of x-rays, blood work,chemo…= $996 )

    Oct 2008 : Chemo therapy, blood work. (COST – approx. $550 )

    Nov 2008 : Chemo therapy, blood work,x-ray (COST – approx. $900 )

    We were told by a rescue worker, from whom we adopted Boscar
    that chemo is very painful for the dog to go through and it is not
    worth. We heard similar things from my husband’s coworkers also.
    That made us to stop the chemo therapy and look into some thing
    different and another reason is, because the side effect of chemo
    is heart failure, kidney failure etc. Since Boscar had already heart
    murmur, i was afraid he might die while receiving chemo.

    One article told that they started MSM+ riboxy + curcumin for the
    cancer from health food store. We bought those things and started
    giving them to Boscar. Since curcumin is concentrated antioxident,
    also since Boscar had heart murmur, i was afraid he might get stroke.
    So I stopped curcumin and started giving only riboxy +MSM.

    Dec. 2008 – Since it was difficult for us to commute 25 miles to vet (for health reasons, i don’t drive in freeway), as my husband had meetings, work pressure and so, we decided to go to a very good fecility around 12 miles from our home. (So that i could drive in the city street). During Dec. we gave boscar pain medication and was doing ok. The monthly vet bill dropped from approx $1000 to $350.

    Jan. 2008:
    Jan.19th – The Vet is so amazed about Boscar being active, his energy and his weight is constant between 27-30 pounds. He told us, if cancer is progressing, the first thing is, he looses his weight.

    Jan.25th – Boscar is becomming weak. I think it might be his heart not cancer. Yesterday, (Jan 27th) i took him to the park couple of
    blocks away(temp was 62F).He was ok while going but it was very
    difficult for him to walk back to home. He had to take many stops.
    He is getting tired and tired. Every time he looks at me I just say “its OK BOscar. Everything will be alright?” I am so scared.
    Today he vommitted entire thing.

    I DO NOT WANT TO PUT HIM TO SLEEP. Who am I to take his life ? After all, he was with us all these years, taught us to love walking, enjoy
    things, got sad when me and my husband fought, was always protective
    of me.Never let a stranger come near me.

    I Hope Boscar feels OK. I pray GOD to make sure my baby do not suffer
    much. He is such a good boy. Not a single mean bone in his body.
    OH !! Boscar, Do you know how much I love you?

    • Dr. Dressler on January 30, 2009 at 7:14 pm

      I wish you the very best tonight. I can see how much you love Boscar. You might want to get my coping guide, which has helped people in similar situations. It is okay for you to follow what you feel is right for your dog, you are allowed to be his primary health advocate, nobody else. Tell him his life story, from start to finish. Tell him everything you are thankful for that he has given to you over all these years.
      Now is the time for you to give back to him. Make sure you take the time to do it.

  63. Cindy Deloy on January 27, 2009 at 4:56 pm


    Can my vet get this vaccine? Miss Marley had a oral melanoma, and just had is removed 1/23/09. She is very perky, and would like to try this ES Claer and Nu Vet Vitamins.

    • Dr. Dressler on January 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm

      Cindy, have your vet contact the nearest veterinary oncologist. Print out the blog post/links for reference for him/her so your vet knows what you are speaking of. Good luck,

  64. Dr. Dressler on December 11, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Dear Helen,
    I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you on this sad day.

  65. Helen Chamberlain on December 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Spanner was put to sleep tonight. 7/12/08

    I will miss her so dearly. I’m not ashamed to say she was my world.

    • Maria on January 3, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      Dr. Dressler,

      Just wanted to share some of my good news with you. My little Sadie went for her 60 day check-up at the University of Wisconsin on 12/27/10. It’s been 60 days since her final radiation and ONCEPT Vaccine treatment. According to her oncologists, the Oral Melanoma has not come back, and there’s no signs of any cancer having yet spread elsewhere in her little body. This wonderfully good news was the BEST Christmas present I could have ever expected!!! The irony is that on 12/28/10, I came down with a very bad and very painful case of the SHINGLES!

      I hope that everyone out there who reads this blog will have a very happy new year with healthy and loving pets.

      Maria & Sadie

      • DemianDressler on January 13, 2011 at 9:12 am

        Dear Maria
        That’s great!! (your dog, not your shingles!!)
        Best wishes for a happy, healthy new year to you both,

        • Trish & Grizz on April 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm

          We received a malignant melanoma diagnosis for our nearly 13 year-old male Chow mix on March 21st (similar to the post above!). It is at the back of his tongue and was found when we took him in for a dental cleaning. He has a 2-3cm tumor intermediate grade (M=14). From what blood and radiographs show, it has not spread yet. He has great energy and acting normally in general. We are thinking about moving forward with a debulking operation as he is starting to cough a bit when he eats. However, I read that the vaccine doesn’t always work well on “bulky” tumors. Any thoughts on if we should proceed with it?

          • Dr. Demian Dressler on April 12, 2012 at 2:00 pm

            Dear Trish and Grizz
            Sorry about this bad news. Larger tumors are usually harder to deal with using all the tools, not just the melanoma vaccine. First, you need to have a clear understanding that a large oral melanoma usually has spread:
            So I would be responding from this position and hit this aggressively. You need to use all the tools in the toolbox assuming you have completed your treatment plan analysis:
            If you have not spend a little time reading the Guide to ascertain all the different tools you have access to for dealing with cancer in dogs I think it would be a very wise investment of time and a few bucks.
            Dr D

  66. Helen Chamberlain on November 27, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Dr Dressler.
    Not relative to the above topic I know…
    But do you have any information on Leiomyosarcoma? I now know this is the type of cancer Spanner has – quite rare by all accounts.

    She is still with me – just. We got a vitamin and painkilling injection 2 days ago so we could visit her beach one more time. She had a great time & even ate (although it was JUNK food!) She will probably pass this weekend, but we have made the most of her time left.

    Best regards

    Helen & Spanner

    • Alex on December 11, 2010 at 9:37 am

      @ Bob Irwin & anyone else who can help
      We have a Scottish Terrier who was recently diagnosed with melanoma. Yesterday he’s been through surgery since the tumor was creating already discomfort when eating/breathing. We also did echo and RX scans and fortunately there are no signs of further disseminations.
      The problem is I live in Romania so I need to find a way to get the vaccine to Europe. Can you please share a contact from the clinic where you are treating your dog? Any info can be helpful, thank you.

      Kind regards,

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