Cancer may be the toughest adversary in medicine today.
When a dog lover is faced with a dog cancer diagnosis, one of the most common questions is, “Are there any other options?” Many guardians are urgently looking for options beyond what seems to exist in conventional medical care today.
For this reason, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide was written.
We must not forget that many cancers are treatable, and in some cases can be removed completely with surgery. In other cases, such as lymphosarcoma or other cancers that cannot be completely removed with surgery, the conventional steps remaining are chemotherapy and radiation.
To be sure, we need to use these tools in an intelligent way that benefits our dogs. Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are the mainstays of veterinary oncology, and this is the heritage and standard of care. Thoughtful use of these therapies is central to conventional cancer care success.
However, there are additional methods that also deserve attention which benefit dogs with cancer. These new ideas should be built into our approach in dealing with dog cancer, and one day will become part of the standard of care.
In modern veterinary care, attention is now placed on diet for kidney, liver, heart, orthopedic, and pancreatic disease. However, less attention has been placed on diet in veterinary cancer care.
Similarly, the use of nutraceuticals (high potency clinical supplements) is also standard of care for these other diseases. It is now time to build this area of medicine into how we care for dogs with cancer. We need to pay attention to apoptogens in particular to help these dogs.
Human medicine is often ahead of veterinary medicine. In human cancer treatment centers like the Mayo Clinic, they build treatments like touch therapies (for example massage) and acupuncture into their cancer treatment plans as standard options to consider. Why not use the same ideas for dogs?
What about the effects of brain chemistry on the immune system and life quality? The Mayo Clinic and others use methods to help mood, alleviate depression, and improve life quality deliberately for human cancer patients. We should be doing the same for our pets with chronic disease.
It takes time to weave new ideas into what is accepted as standard of care by doctors, whether physicians or veterinarians. There is often resistance, since doctors are (and should be) skeptical. However, there can be a darker side of skepticism, and that is a kind of prejudice that condemns without consideration.
If we go back in time to Vienna, in the mid 1800’s, 18% of mothers died with puerperal fever. A very smart physician, Ignaz Semmelweis, deduced there must some some contagious substance that traveled from deceased patients remains and living mothers, was invisible, and could be found on the hands of doctors. So, he required his doctors to wash their hands with disinfectant between autopsies and patient care.
The death rate dropped to about 1- 2% after this practice started. In spite of this, his ideas were met with furious resistance from other doctors, and he was later committed to an insane asylum.
Later, Luis Pasteur was credited with developing and confirming germ theory. And now, it is standard of care to wash hands between patient visits.
Hopefully, we can start to build new ideas into conventional veterinary cancer care.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.