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

New Antioxidant Info For Managing Dog Cancer

Updated: January 3rd, 2019

Got some new stuff for everyone into vitamins and antioxidants in cancer treatment for their loved dogs.
Recall we are talking about cancer treatment, not cancer prevention. These are two different categories gang, with different considerations.

You may recall also that the big deal is that there has been concern with free radical scavenging, which is what agents grouped under the umbrella of “antioxidants” do. Oxidation means to damage something by taking electrons. You lose your electrons and you fall apart.



When oxidative injury happens in healthy cells, they fall apart. When it happens in cancer cells, they blow up. Ah ha. So we see that oxidation can be good and can be bad, depending on who or what is being oxidized.

It would follow then that antioxidants might not all be good under all circumstances. You give a cancer cell that is is the process of being oxidized something that stops oxidation (an antioxidant) and that cancer cell gets happy again and goes on doing the nasty things it does.

I came upon a great review article recently and thought I could share some juicy bits with the dog lovers. This is hard to find stuff (it was for me anyway).

Here’s a little project that you might find surprising. Ask your vet, or perhaps your oncologist, whether a given chemotherapy drug kills cancer by oxidation. You may find a paucity of info.  Why? Well, nobody taught us this in vet school. It is just not in the curriculum. Nobodies fault, just not a priority.

What about radiation? Yes, radiation kills cancer cells by oxidation, at least in theory

Why does it matter? Well, maintenance levels of certain antioxidants shorten hospital times, lessen side effects of chemo, and decrease concurrent illness, at least in kids with cancer. So it might follow that there would be good reason to consider it for our dogs, at least maintenance (dietary levels).


Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, for more helpful tools and information


So, which chemotherapy drugs kill cancer cells by oxidation? In other words, if you give a maintenance (dietary) level of antioxidants, which could interfere with the chemo for a time?

Here are the common ones:

Alkylating Agents: Lomustine, Chlorambucil, Cyclophosphamide

Platinum Compounds: Cisplatin, Carboplatin

Antitumor Antibiotics: Bleomycin, Doxorubicin, Mitoxantrone

Recall that antioxidants can be vitamins, herbs, certain foods (fruits, veggies etc), other supplements and more.

Here is the original article (written for human cancer patients and applied to veterinary medicine).

As a rule of thumb, the peak effect of these after treatment is started (the pills) or a injected dose is given (the others) is roughly 2 weeks. Thus, if a top goal is maximizing the killing effects of chemo, you would want to wait about 2 weeks after the last treatment or pill was given.

Notice I did not mention intentional lessening of chemo’s side effects with the use of agents included in the “antioxidant” group. That is a whole other topic…

Best to all,
Dr D


Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment





  1. robert on December 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

    our 11 year old Schipperke has had 3 surgeries for large tumor removal from his omentum. The last two surgeries were done at CSU Veterinary hospital. I highly recommend this hospital as they are caring and compassionate and very knowledgeable. Anyway his cancer accelerated after the second surgery and when the did the 3rd surgery Dr.Worley found clusters on his liver and the discovered after lab that his cancer had showed signs of morphing to bone type. He is currently being given Carboplatin IV and is just received dose 3 of 5 spaced at 3 week intervals. I have changed his diet from a prescription gastro intestinal dry food to that of meat ( beef or chicken or turkey),broccoli, Brussels sprouts,brown rice,carrots, peas,red, orange bell peppers, apples, tangerines, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I am also giving him Keifer pro-biotic in the am. He looks great, better than he has in years. Our 7 year old small American Eskimo and our new 4 month old Schipperke puppy are loving it also. I am giving them each a dog vitamin and a fish oil every day. What else should I be doing. for him now?

  2. kathryn on May 8, 2010 at 6:53 am

    I need to know what vegetables are good for dog with cancer -NO SUGAR

  3. Steve Mainero on April 29, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Dr. Dressler — My 5 year old Golden was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma. He is being treated with pred and lukeran — we are now down to half a pred tablet and 2 lukeran every day. The vet said that he is close to remission. I started giving him the K9 immunity regimen about 4 days ago. In addition, we are moving to a whole food kibble which I supplement on alternate days with shitake mushroms, blueberies, sardines, collard greens and other green vegetables. On one of your webinars, I heard a holistic vet talk about using 200 mgs of artemisinin. In light of all that we are doing for my best buddy, shuld I consider adding Artemisinin to his protocol? Also how often and how long should I use the K 9 immunity regimen? Thank you for your book and your blogs, they are invaluable.

  4. Karen Nash on March 9, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler. I just stumbled onto your site while trying to find something to help my boy Sammy. His diagnosis is kinda vague. I have had him to 4 vets now with different opinions. One said he had bladder stones, one said possible prostrate or bladder tumor, one said cancer and the last, arthritis. All I know is I have seen a rapid decline in my dogs health since December of 08 and I am at my wits end. The last time I had him at the vets, they said the tumor was diffinately there but there was nothing they could do. They suggested an ultrasound and radiation/chemo. The position of the tumor is not operatable. They believe his weight loss is because of cancer. They can not even be sure how far it has spread and if there are any other tumors. He has lost 7 pounds since September of 08. He has difficulty urinating and a huge difficulty with his bowels. He has never had these problems. He is a male, nutered mini schaunzer and is 9 years old. He is a fabulous dog and I feel I am losing him. Besides his weight loss and other problems, he is having difficulty walking. He constantly will try to walk (his absolute favorite past time!) and he stops and sits down quickly. He acts as if something is grabbing at his bottom. His anus is puffy and with a red ring around it. When he trys to have a bowel movement, he has contractions and has a difficult time. His posture has changed also. His back is arched up and he holds him behind under himself. He is still eating fairly well. And is not dehydrated. He did go through a very bad time when he was not eating well at all but has recovered and is eating better. He does nothing anymore except sleep and eat. My heart is breaking for I do not know how to help him. The only medicine he is on is Previcox for the pain. I am open to any suggestions. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Karen and Sammy

    • Dr. Dressler on March 10, 2009 at 6:19 pm

      Karen,
      this sounds bad. Consider the Functional Nutriments professional cooperative project, meant to gauge success of a new flavonoid supplement for dogs:
      http://functionalnutriments.com/

      You should pursue a biopsy to find out at least the type of tumor to see what chemo options would be smartest to at least consider.
      Dr D