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

A Dog Cancer Wake Up Call

Updated: October 19th, 2018

From time to time I receive comments from readers who express opinions about what they will consider in treating their dog’s cancer.

These particular folks segregate themselves into a single group…the “anti” people.

First, we have those who are very impressed with conventional veterinary care.  This is my background, so I see the appeal. Big machines, big words, big science, big studies.  Strong, powerful, reliable, reproducible.

And getting re-soundly beaten, mercilessly, by canine cancer.

Members of this camp tend to be “anti” herbs, supplements, dietary manipulation, and other forms of “hocus pocus” that don’t have multiple double blind, placebo-controlled studies done to support efficacy and safety.

The other “anti” people want to rely on things like homeopathy and acupuncture to cure their dog’s cancer.  They don’t want to “poison” their dog with anything that is not  “natural”.

Please, everyone, it is time to wake up!

First, to the “anti alternative” set (conventional care only):  have you taken a look at the efficacy data for chemo and radiation treatments of systemic cancers lately?  If you have, you will no doubt agree that the numbers, overall,  are abysmal.

And you guys, who don’t want to use anything that comes compressed in a tablet or in an injection vial, you need to wake up too (the “alternative people”).  If a certain conventional protocol can give your English Mastiff another year of life, you just extended your dog’s life 10-18% or something.  Suppose a human lived for 80 years.  This human’s life would be proportionally extended another 8 to 14 “human” years with this treatment!

On top of that , if you think that a little Carcinosinum under your dog’s tongue will cure the osteoarcoma making his leg swell twice it’s size, you are probably living in a dream.

Now,  let’s get a grip on the big picture. It is absolutely critical to balance efficacy with life quality, to weigh survival times with what is manageable, and to factor in personal ethical considerations and beliefs with guardianship.  Aspects like these are fundamental.

But, it is high time to avoid letting our rigidity, bias, and resistances get in the way of what can help.  Weigh all options, be flexible, formulate a plan choosing from all the of what is available, modify it as needed, and do it.

If you need help getting the structure and data you need to look at all these aspects of canine cancer care, from all angles, consider the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

I wish you all the very best,

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Julian on November 10, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Dr. Dressler, first “thank you” for all that you have done for all of us. When my “Daffney” was diagnosed with MCT, it was removed and although the edges were clean, it seemed to explode along her incision 2 months later. I was completely devistated and decided to do as much research as possible. A lot of sleepless nights trying to learn as much as I could. With all the “garbage” on the internet, I was at a loss as to what was “right”. Then I came across your site and bought the book. I’ve always tried to be open to both chemical and natural ways of keeping a healthy body, but you have given us the tools needed to make informed appropriate decisions.

    You are so correct that an open mind is the best ally you can have in this battle. So many “modern” medicines have roots in the “natural” world.

    Shelley, thanks for sharing your recipe, it sounds promissing and I think I will adjust what I’m feeding to encompass some of your choices. Good luck with the Pax II study! I was in a comparison at Mich State for Pax II and CCNU (blind) and unfortunately it started to spread somewhat before her final treatment. We found she was on CCNU, I wish the Pax II was available.

  2. christina on November 4, 2009 at 11:21 am

    May God Bless Pugsley………Shelley if you would like to borrow MY copy of the cancer book let me know, i will gladly ship it to you to read….

  3. Shelley Russo on November 4, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I whole-heartedly agree with you! Dr. Dressler, you are a God-send. Thank you for all of the information you provide. It is thought provoking and pointed me in the right direction to research my dog’s cancer. Pugsley, my 4 yr. old boxer male, was was diagnosed in July, 2009 with testicular hemangiosarcoma (unheard of until now) AND two grade 2 MCTs, a small stable tumor on his ear and a rapidly growing one on the back of his hind leg, below his hock. I was crushed! I’ve had him since birth, he is young and is not only a pet, but my true friend. With the economy as it is, my business (and only source of income) was virtually destroyed and now I am at risk of losing my home as well. I wish I could afford to buy your book, but even that is not affordable for me. I have even spent my savings to help Pugsley. As the leg tumor is inoperable, radiation was suggested. Payment ($8,000) was needed up front, so this was not an option. I would have to watch my baby die because I couldn’t afford treatment. Two things happened: I found your site and MedVet (in Columbus, OH) called me, suggesting that Pugsley may be eligible for a second phase clinical trial of a new chemo drug from Switzerland called PaclicalVet (Pax II). After researching the information you provided I came up with a change in his diet and supplements. Chopped broccoli, celery & parsley (natural luteolin) soaked in broth from chicken hearts, gizzards & beef heart, seasoned with cumin, ginger root and garlic. I combine it and feed 6 heaping TBSP over 1/3 cup of dry pedigree dog food 3x per day. I add 1,000 mg. of turmeric and 2,000 mg. of Omega 3 Fish Oil to the food each time. He also takes 50 mg. of Benadryl 4x daily. I also make my own dog treats from beef heart that I dehydrate. He was accepted into the PaxII study at MedVet, and has had 2 treatments. He is currently awaiting his 3rd and final treatment in about 2 weeks. Before he began the study, the change in diet & supplements was making a difference. His tumors were shrinking noticeably, especially the rapidly growing one on his hind leg. My local vet was very impressed! He requested my recipe & supplements and plans to do his own research. I also directed him to your web page. With the PAX II treatments, the oncologist at MedVet announced last week that the MCT on the hind leg is basically gone, now nothing more than scar tissue from the slice biopsy. The MCT on his ear is very small now as well. There have been NO side effects other than a low white blood cell count 10 days after treatment. During this time he takes 2 antibiotics to ward off infection. I will continue his diet & supplements for the rest of his life, as I believe it will now be a long one, thanks to you and MedVet. You give us all hope for our beloved friends! I can’t say thank you enough!!!!

  4. Millie on November 4, 2009 at 8:46 am

    I’ve read with interest your book on Canine Cancer and all the email I receive from you. My 14 year old terrier mix was diagnoised with a MCT on her hind leg early March of this past year. I made the decison not to operate because of her age and the extensivness of the surgery. Basically I was sent home to let her die, no information about treatment other then pain management. I was told I would know when I needed to bring her in again. I spent hours researching canine cancer on the internet and discovered your book and site. I’ve learned so much and the most important learning is I am the care taker of my dog and I need to be educated in how best to care for her. I’ve put to practice what I’ve learned and the changes in my dog are nothing short of a miracle. I walk her twice a day and when she was diagnoised I had to use the doggy stroller to assist her on her walks. Within in a month of changing her diet and adding the suppliments her hind leg was back on the ground and although she still drags it most times she is able to put weight on it. She hasn’t lost any weight and if you looked at her she looks and acts healthy. I know I am doing palative care however it is the quality of her life that is important. I firmly believe without your book and me using the information daily I would have lost my dog by this time.
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us because so many vets are wonderful in caring for our dogs when they suffer normal kinds of things the vets have studies in school however I’ve discovered at least my vets don’t have much knowledge about canine cancer.

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