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

Bone Tumors and Doxcycline

Updated: May 15th, 2024

Osteosarcoma, and other types of canine bone cancer, can be especially hard for a dog lover to cope with.  Not only are most of these cancers very malignant, but often they require major surgeries to help deal with the immediate crisis.

Once the decision is made and the surgery performed, we are faced with cancer spread (metastasis).  One reason  this is tricky is osteosarcoma often will send out microscopic tumor cells into the circulation by the time the diagnosis is made.

This can be devastating for a dog lover.

In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, many ways of addressing cancer spread are discussed. Let’s look at the use of a common prescription medication available from veterinarians: doxycycline.

Doxycycline is known as an antibiotic since it can destroy certain microbes. However, there is new research on some of it’s cancer-fighting properties.

One of the nice things this medication can do, at least in labs, is block enzymes that seems to be very important in cancer spread.  These are called matrix metalloproteinases, or MMP’s.

MMP’s are kind of like pac-men, from the old video game.  These enzymes are secreted by the cancer cells into the surrounding neighborhood, and they start gobbling.  They literally break down protein in the tissue around the cancer cells, leaving tunnels or holes.

The channels made by the MMP’s allow the cancer cells to take off into the surrounding neighborhood, and spread.  Cancer cell spread is central in the harm they cause the body.

In mice with experimental cancer that had spread into the bone, it was found that doxycyline was able to block cancer cells invading into bone by about 70%.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that this medication is the cure for cancer.  A full plan must be implemented to get a real edge.

In dogs under my care, I advocate focus on diet, designed supplements, conventional care, stress and isolation reduction, vaccine avoidance,  photoperiod regulation, timed therapy,  pain control and more.

By using all of these together, many dog lovers report tremendous gains in their four legged friends.


Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Dr. Demian Dressler on March 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Well Elaine…if its working, it seems like the best option is to continue. The doxycyline issue is a pain right now, but searching around can still yield some reasonable prices.
    Dr D

  2. Elaine on March 19, 2013 at 9:02 am

    Just curious if you have any advice for us regarding Newman (see above). Sounds like its going to be harder (and more costly) to get doxycycline. Thoughts?

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