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

Prednisone for Dog Cancer

Updated: November 26th, 2018

Cortisone drugs have a bad rap.

Pharmaceuticals like prednisone, prednisolone, dexamethasone, budesonide, and triamcinolone are drugs in the cortisone family. And over the years these medications have achieved much attention as bad chemicals.

This is very likely due to what could be described as overuse.  These drugs of have historically been prescribed for a wide variety of medical conditions in medicine.  Since these meds provide symptomatic relief for many problems, a large number of people–as well as pets–have received them.  And the truth is that we have likely used them excessively in our patients in the past.

As time went on, the medical community began to realize that cortisone drugs have side effects that warrant other meds being tried first.  In other words, using higher doses of cortisone drugs when milder treatments could have been effective has been shown to be the wrong strategy.  We have witnessed this phenomenon in allergies and arthritis in particular.

However, when one is coping with a cancer diagnosis, the realization must be made that cancer is extremely aggressive.  In spite of all of our medical advances, it still resists treatment.  Thus, in order to get an edge on cancer to promote longevity and life quality, we need to use a broad range of tools to attack this disease.

Cortisone drugs have their place in cancer medicine.  The side effects that are seen with cortisone use are rarely life threatening, while systemic cancer is always life threatening.  Therefore if the drug can increase a patient’s lifespan and the disease will proceed relentlessly without it, it is sensible wisdom to at least consider its use.

Here are guidelines for the use of the most common drug in this class, prednisone, taken from Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook, the gold standard of veterinary drug texts:

1.  Glucocorticoids can mask disease! Try not to use them until you have a diagnosis.

2.  Make a specific diagnosis!

3.  Determine course from outset

4.  Determine endpoint before you starting treating

5.  Use the least potent form for the minimal time

6.  Know where glucocorticoids inappropriate. (Behrend 2007)

Prednisone and prednisolone are central players in cancer chemotherapy protocols, most commonly for lymphosarcoma.  And the good news is that they really make a difference in both life quality and life span.  Oncologists are achieving median survival times of 10-14 months using these chemo protocols.  This is most definitely worth considering.

The bottom line is that in some cases we have swung too far in being anti-drug.  We need a balanced approach to cancer treatment.

We should always consider diet, apoptogens, anti-metastatics, pain control as needed, and efforts to convert our patients to a cancer-fighting brain state.  We must consider surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (all of these are discussed in the Guide).

For more helpful information, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Don’t forget, when using cortisone drugs, decrease the dose of Apocaps to ¼-1/2 the labeled dose if your dog is receiving cortisone drugs, give with a full meal, and use this combination under veterinary supervision only.


Dr. D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

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  1. Trish on May 11, 2019 at 6:45 am

    If you put a dog on prednisone…can you withdraw it so she isn’t on it long term? We were told once you put a dog on it and it does all it can do…the cancer comes back with a vengeance…making you scared to ever use it.

    • Molly Jacobson on May 11, 2019 at 9:58 am

      Hello Trish, thanks for your question. It is possible to take a dog off prednisone MOST of the time, but doing so must be done only under veterinary supervision. Pred is so powerful that the body stops making cortisol and other hormones, because they just aren’t needed when you’re on pred. If you stop cold turkey, the body struggles to start making those again, and if it doesn’t do it quickly enough, it can cause shock and even death. So when vets take dogs off pred they do so very, very slowly, tapering down doses over weeks, usually. Pred can be so helpful for cancer, in some cases, precisely because it works fast and hard. But yes, cancer is a sneaky foe, and it is always trying to figure out how to beat what we do. It’s very clever, and very strong, which is why it often is the ultimate cause of death. The reason to try pred if your vet recommends it is because while it works, it works really, really well. The quality of life is usually very high, even when it’s used for other conditions. But when cancer figures out how to get around it, that quality of life goes down. It’s not that pred’s the problem, it’s cancer that is the problem. It’s tough. There is nothing that stops it from “coming back with a vengeance” if it manages to do so. There are long-term problems with prednisone use (I speak as someone whose dog was on pred for nearly six years at the end of her life, for another health issue), but the quality of life it provides in the meantime might be worth those trade offs. These are just the awful decisions we have to make as dog lovers: what are we willing to live with? What does our dog want, really? You know yourself and your dog best. Ask your vet for best and worst case scenarios for using pred and not using pred, and then take that information inside and sit with it. What kind of life does your dog want? What do you want? In the end, that’s the only thing that makes the decision. And don’t forget, there are literally dozens of other things you can do for your dog other than pred. These have all been shown to really help your dog fight: the dog cancer diet, nutraceuticals, anti-metastatic supplements, and mind-body strategies. Get the book and you’ll see that there is way, way more than pred. https://dogcancerblog.com/book

      • Trish Kimball on May 11, 2019 at 2:47 pm

        I do have the book…my dog was given 1 month to live and that was 14 months ago..we started CBD oil and Turkey tail. Then last month was told it had spread all over. Seemed like what we were doing did great for 10 months…because the xrays in Feb showed no spread of cancer then by April it’s all over. So I read researched and did more research….came across the dog cancer survivor book…bought it…changed her diet to the cancer diet…continued our CBD oil but added Canine Transfer factor, Keto “dog cancer diet”, herbs, Frankincense, Benadryl, tramadol, goat milk, Paradigm veggies, krill oil, turmeric and curcumin, prednisone – which was added after resp. Distress one night. I panicked…and the vet started prednisone. I just hope I didn’t rush in. Anyway, being in the medical field..I know you must wean it off…just thought…maybe now that I started it..did that start the clock ticking against her..like it only works for 1 – 3 months??
        One other question…being on the transfer factor and prednisone…does that defeat the purpose of increasing immunity since prednisone suppresses it? That’s what has me so worried…I could of gave transfer factor time to work but my fear is the prednisone will cancel the benefits of it. ?? Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.

        • Molly Jacobson on May 13, 2019 at 2:35 pm

          Hi Trish, it’s not that prednisone starts a clock ticking. It’s not causing the cancer to get worse. It’s just that the effect can be so powerful while it’s working that people sort of relax. I think your veterinarian was really trying to give you a gentle heads up that once pred is started, it’s pretty powerful, AND when cancer figures out how to beat it, it won’t be effective anymore. Sometimes people become less vigilant, because they think that their dog is fine, so he or she is “beating cancer.” Then later, when it comes back, they are surprised and resent the process. (Which is totally understandable.) For certain YOUR dog is beating cancer. I’m so thrilled to hear about how well your girl is doing for so long now! Yes, pred is immuno-suppressive, but you are definitely in the game of balancing side effects, pros and cons. Thinking you made a mistake is super-common, but the reality is that there is no one right path for cancer. It’s not linear, like a broken leg, or even other chronic diseases, like diabetes of heart disease. Instead, it is always a case of adjust-as-you-go. Ask your veterinarian what they think the pred will do, and for how long, and whether you think it was a mistake, and why or why not. They will be able to help you to understand the mechanics behind their decision, especially since you are in the medical field yourself. Yes, transfer factor and medicinal mushrooms like turkey tail can build immunity, and they might be beneficial even as your dog is on pred. I don’t think this is an either-or situation, but I’m not a veterinarian, so take it back to your vet. They’ll be able to help you detangle all this for your peace of mind.

          • Trish Kimball on May 13, 2019 at 4:28 pm

            Thank you..this has really helped me understand.

  2. Flaminia silj on April 11, 2019 at 10:45 am

    I live in Rome. Mela, my great 11 year old jack russell mongrel dog, has mast cell cancer, she is on Prednicortone (and Zantadine) at the moment but chemo will probably be added soon. Your book has helped me a lot in understanding and dealing with this challenge. I am very impressed by what I have read of Apocaps. Can you give me more info on why the recommended dose should be decreased? Looking on line the only mention of this is in this blog.
    p.s. I have put her on your diet and she loves it!

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on April 12, 2019 at 6:27 am


      Thanks for writing. As Dr. D writes in Chapter 12 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, the recommended dose should be decreased as doubling up on anti-inflammatories can cause stomach upset (his nutraceutical has an anti-inflammatory effect). So he recommends dropping the dose down to one quarter or one half of the full strength dose. This advice also applies to dogs on NSAIDs and corticosteroids 🙂

  3. RHAMON on January 9, 2019 at 1:23 am


    I live in Brazil, and I’m looking to understand what could have happened to my wife’s dog.

    He had an episode of seizure. The next morning we took him to the vet. They said he had no tumors on his body. Then they did a CT-Scan of his brain. They found a neoplasm and edema, prescribed prednisone and phenobarbital and escheduled surgery to remove the tumor, two weeks later.

    The surgeon did the surgery and found no mass. Closed him up and he is now home.

    So, could the meds have cured the dog? Is he at serious risk?

  4. Ben on November 2, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Hello. My dog has a tumor on her spleen and was given prednisone and a antibiotic. I ordered a medical mushroom powder with 9 different species plus using the formula of organic maple syrup with organic baking soda without aluminum. I was wondering, will the prednisone limit all of the good I’m trying to do since it suppresses the immune system?

  5. Jon on January 23, 2018 at 9:23 am

    My Dobie was diagnosed with anal gland carcinoma..she is 10 years old, but still very strong, and even playful, but we can tell she is declining. I think she has a lymph now behind her ear…do you think Prednisone will help reduce the symptoms as this goes on?

  6. Chad Stett on November 29, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    My Weimaraner has an intramaduliary (sp?) tumor on her c3/c4. It’s on the lining that surrounds her spinal cord. I can’t afford the astronomical cost of surgery. She’s on 10mg prednisone 2-3 times a day. She’s on a diet of chicken, brocoli, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, apples, oats and Shitake mushrooms. No more commercial dog food. Oh and cbd oil. She has lost lots of mobility and stability. The best it seems we can do is make her as comfortable as long as possible. Or is there something else? Higher dose of prednisone? Any help is greatly appreciated.

  7. Candice on February 11, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    Our dog Sheba was diagnosed with oral melanoma back in September of 2015. They decided because of how aggressive it was to not do surgery on her nor put her through the costly radiation and vaccine only to extend her like maybe 1-2 years because she is a very elderly dog anyway and we agreed to not put her through that since it would require removal of most of her jaw and not give much quality of life and I’d rather her have quality than quantity so anyway because she was bleeding from her tumor and it smelled like a dead rotten animal from her breath, they decided to initially give antibiotics and prednisone and to slowly decrease the pred from 20 to 10 to 5mg. The vet said he didn’t think she needed the antibiotic, but it couldn’t hurt and her breath was smelly because the tissue along the tumor was necrotic (tissue death) due to the tumor cutting off the blood supply so it all made sense. Within 2 days of starting pred, both of the symptoms cleared up and she went from looking like on death’s door step to having pep in her step and being close to back to normal. Even the cheek swelling had went down a great deal so I praised the treatment and still do even though now it is starting to look like it isn’t working anymore. A bit of a backstory on that: As soon as we started to decrease her down to 10mg of pred, the bleeding returned, but her breath was still fairly good and tolerable, but we went down to 5 as instructed and it was like it was not doing her any good at all cause all symptoms returned full swing so we increased back to the 10mg and stayed there. The bit of bleeding was manageable just so long as she still seemed to be mostly like her old self otherwise and her breath was tolerable. Well at the beginning of this year in January 2016 the bleeding picked up and her breath began smelling horrid again to the point I was having to keep her outside when weather permitted because a whiff of her breath caused me to gag and be nauseated and we could smell it from another room. It was that strong, so we call the vet back and he decided to give another round of antibiotics and put her back on 20mg of the pred, but has instructed to decrease her like before. Well my dilemma is that initially when we started this treatment it seemed to perk her back up as before except her breath problem didn’t fully disappear and neither did the bleeding, but made it tolerable, but now we are a week in and it seems like the treatment is slowly, but surely not working for her anymore even still being on 20mg of the pred. She was just standing next to me a few minutes ago and I noticed a medium sized blood patch in the floor and when she came up to me and I petted her I noticed her breath smells pretty bad again. Still not smelling it from another room over, but it is going back that direction so now I am not quite sure what to do at this point especially when it comes to decreasing again. Before we got her down to 10mg, but now the 20mg isn’t doing the job so if we decrease as directed then I feel it is going to put her in a worse boat with the symptoms. I have came to the conclusion that either cancer has gotten to a point where the prednisone isn’t going to work for it anymore or she has gotten used to it so we need to move to a higher dose. I realize there are bad long term side effects to using prednisone for extended amounts of time, but at the same time I feel the cancer is worse and that is going to get her eventually anyway so I don’t see the harm in upping the pred dose if it will keep her comfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I would not do this without first consulting the vet, but they seem pretty headstrong about not even wanting her to stay on the 10mg let alone the 20mg for no longer than a week so I’m fairly certain they aren’t going to up her dose any and I’ll probably be told it’s probably getting to be about that time to consider euthanizing her, however that is hard for me to do when otherwise she still has that pep and energy, still eats, drinks, plays occasionally, loves on us, wags her tail and all, but I am pretty sure that would change if we took her down or off the pred and then we would have to go that route. The pred is still helping as far as those things go, but the blood and breath it isn’t so much anymore. I’m not sure what to think or do at this point other than to just keep her at 20mg and wait and see and when I see the other stuff declining then I need to make a decision. I am telling my story because I can’t find any other regarding canine oral melanoma and the use of prednisone specifically online. I can’t be the only one, but noone else has written about their story where they had a dog with this same cancer and they got prescribed pred to manage the symptoms nor does any vet website or blog specifically address this and this one didn’t. It addressed using pred with a different cancer so I thought I would put this out there. Despite the pred seeming to be losing it’s umph in my dog, I praise it because the vet gave her approximately 6 months at best to live with no other treatment and if not for the pred I really believe she would have passed away shortly after the diagnosis the way it was looking, but I believe pred extended her life just by making her feel so much better and managing the imflammation which of course causes pain. We are nearing that 6 month mark and if she holds steady then I can easily see her living another 2 months at least if not even making it to the beginning of Summer, but that’s if the pred don’t stop working all together. We will see, but in the meantime we are cherishing every moment we can with her knowing she is on borrowed time and don’t really want to think about putting her down even though I am sure it is going to happen sometime in the first half of this year. If she does make it past that I’ll call it a miracle and celebrate with her. I just wanted others to know if your dog is too old to risk surgery or is not a good candidate for one and/or you can’t afford the radiation and vaccine then ask your vet about managing it with prednisone because while it has worked it has done wonders for our sweet dog. It doesn’t cure the cancer or combat it, but it makes living with it a whole lot more comfortable!

  8. Susan Kazara Harper on June 23, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Mary Anne, That’s the decision that only you and your dog can make. Remember that a prognosis is based on data from other cases, and your dog is his own unique self. There are many variables. Get him onto the best nutrition you can (www.dogcancerdiet.com) and really work with your vet. Statistics help guide us but are not a crystal ball. Liver support form your vet and/or from some lovely natural sources like milk thistle. Good luck!

  9. Mary Anne Bainbridge on June 13, 2015 at 5:32 am

    My 10 year Chihuahua was diagnosed with a pituitary macroadoenma 2 months ago. He is 8 pounds and was prescribed prednisone 7.5mg. I didnt give him that large does but started at 6.25mg. We have whittled it down to 3.25mg on the advise on my vet. he is worried about liver issues. my dog is having no ill effects of the high pred dose. no excessive drinking/peeing or accidents or eating. His long term prognosis is not good so i don’t understand why my vet is worried about his liver. I want to to be a as happy and comfortable for as long as possible. If the pred is controlling the edema and swelling from his timor shouldn’t we just lave well enough alone?

  10. Susan Kazara Harper on September 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Zoey,
    Your vet or vet oncologist ultimately needs to be the one to advise whether preds is advisable for your dog. Prednisone is a steroid / anti-inflammatory which can be effective in treating cancers.

    Usually Piroxicam is the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) of choice used with SCC. Pages 358 & 359 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide discuss this further.

    Each dog is unique and your vet is the professional on the scene, so to speak, who knows the ins and outs of your dog’s case. Please ensure you advise your vet not only of your choices but of any other supplements you may be using to help your dog. This will let your vet do his or her best job for you and your dog.

    Good luck!

  11. Zoey on September 2, 2014 at 8:30 am

    is it a good to giveprednisone to my dog with scc???

  12. Frankie Keane on May 5, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    My Dog Jonni was diagnosed with lymphoma 3 weeks ago. We have her on prednisone and I started her on a suppliments program called k9critical care…
    I just bought graviola extract…I don’t want to just start giving her new stuff, but after all I’ve read, it seems very aggressive towards cancer and I guess I want to explore all possibilities.
    Thoughts as to how much? Interactions?
    Thanks for your advice,


  13. Jane on January 30, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    My 3 year old Papillon was diagnosed with lymphoma 6 months ago. He is a big baby he is afraid of his own shadow — so we decided against chemo. The vet put him on predisone 2.5 mg 2 times a day. He is hungry all the time and has gained some weight. I think these are the side effects of the predisone. Recently his lympho nodes on his neck are swollen more then usual. He seems to have some trouble breathing — he snorts alot. He has always been a lazy dog but he seems to be a little more uncomfortable. I don’t know what to do. Is there a test I can do to see if the cancer has spread? I was told when he loses his appietite I will know he is sick but does the predisone mask that. I don’t want him to suffer. What do I do? Please help me I just lost my cat last week and I am not ready to suffer another loss.

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on February 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Sorry about your cat and now your dog. If the lymph nodes are more swollen, it is likely that the pred is no longer working, so you need to get to your vet. Remember we never stop pred without a slow taper. Pred typically only keeps the lymphoma under control for about 2-3 months. I am sorry about everything you have been through, but I recommend you recheck your dog with your vet asap.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  14. Lora on December 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    My 80 lb mixed great dane/black lab has bone cancer. She can’t put any weight on her left back leg. It’s to the point where we have to carry her up the stairs. We were told she has 2-3 months to live. She is currently taking 10 mg of predisone, 100 mg of Tramadol, 1,500 mg of Pau D’ Arco, and 1,200 mg of Graviola. My question is would it be ok to give her more predisone? Her leg is quite swollen. I am so afraid of overdoing her. What is the max mg of predisone I can give her daily for the inflammation? And also I was wondering if she is getting enough Tramadol for pain and the max for that daily?

  15. Yamuna on August 22, 2012 at 12:57 am

    My 10-year-old male (not neutered) Lab has recently been diagnosed with prostate tumor (through x-ray and ultrasound) and vets here in India (Bangalore City) have indicated tumor removal surgery ASAP. It started off with urinary tract infection about 14/15 days ago with symptoms of incontinence, strong urine odor, and difficulty defecating in the last 7 days. He is on antibiotics since then (Ceftriaxone and Fortified Procaine Penicillin for 10 days and Taxim tablets twice daily thereafter). But it is very active, healthy, no fever or lethargy at all except for the increased urination. There is no loss of appetite or any other signs of external weakness.

    I would appreciate if you can suggest the best course of treatment and prognosis for my angel.

  16. Iva Morgan-Sloan on February 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

    Last July my precious cocker was diagnosed with Lymphoma at 5 years old.
    I decided homeopathy would be worth a try, together with a total change in
    food. I contacted a homeopathic vet. We worked together with homeopathic
    medicine. He also recommended all food be raw organic food including meat.
    I varied the food and fortunately Teddi loved it as “soup”. He remained his
    happy cheerful self and while the cancer did not shrink, the nodes did not
    enlarge either. Over time his back legs area lost their muscle, this did not
    interfere with his running around the garden etc.,. Fast forward to last month
    (January 2012) when I decided if I could find a way to shrink all the nodes and
    then return to homeopathic treatment that could be the answer. So I started
    Teddi on prednisone. Within two days he became very ill. His breathing became
    very difficult, he would no longer eat. His whole body became “skin and bone”
    and within a short time there was no choice but to have him put to sleep.
    I know there is no cure for this type of cancer but I do feel the homeopathic
    treatment did slow it’s progression considerably and was a very gentle treatment which certainly extended Teddi’s life and enabled him to enjoy every
    moment. It goes without saying that switching medicines was a dreadful mistake.

  17. lynn on January 6, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Hi, I understand that you may not time or first-hand examination to help me, but perhaps some of your other readers may or you can point me to other resources. My Golden was diagnosed with a mass cell tumor from a needle biopsy yesterday. This came on suddenly. She has had soft cell “fatty binine tumors for years.” This one had also seemed fatty until this week, when it swelled to, well, it looks like she has an oozing, bloody tennis ball lodged into her stomach. We noticed it Wednesday night. She had been perky and happy the day before! She is almost 15 and vet doesn’t recommend surgery given her age. Also discovered she has a thyroid problem. We are giving her benedryl, antibiotic (yesterday only), topical powder to dry her oozing tumor and special betadine cleanser to lightly clean her wound once a day. We are to start prednisone on Sunday (had to wait three days because she’s been on Dermax for arthritis). I bought your book last night and am half way through it. I’m learning a lot from it. But I’m a little frustrated that it doesn’t seem to address situations with older dogs that aren’t candidates for surgery, chemo or radiation. I’m going to gradually start the diet if she makes it long enough, but I would like to see you address more about treating dogs that are already at the end of their average lifespan. More hospice type care. My dog went from seemingly fine to two days later having a oozing surface tumor, not eating, needing help to stand, and intermittent light whining, which breaks my heart. She vomited last night after taking antibiotic which we cut out for the time being. I can’t stand to see her in pain, yet I don’t want to give up so quickly. I just found out she had cancer! But she can’t get up by herself and I’m not able to lift her alone. She’s 92 pounds even after being on a very limited organic commercial food diet the past two years (hence the thyroid problem) Vet says to try to hang on so she can start the prednisone on Sunday. She has pain med in interim, but she still whines especially when I leave her side. Is there anything else natural she can take to help with pain?

    Everything I find on mass cells just assumes tumor will be removed or inoperable ones will treated with chemo and radiation. If my dog was a couple of years younger vet says would definitely remove it, but not the wisest option now. With dogs this old the time that might buy isn’t to me worth the loss in quality of life. I would so appreciate it if you can point me and others like me to some resource.dealing with older dogs with Mast Cell tumors that aren’t candidates for surgery or chemo. Something beyond just diet and good interactions, something that helps with pain and is not prohibitively expensive.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on January 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Dear Lynn
      I am sorry you and your loved dog are going through this.
      have you read the Guide? There is whole slew of information that could benefit your dog. If no surgery, you might discuss with your vet: combination apoptogens, oral and injectable neoplasene under veterinary supervision, matrix 3 cisplatin impregnated beads from Wedgewood pharmacy, antihistamines, antacids, dog cancer diet, beta glucans or modified citrus pectin, injectible corticosteroids, Kinavet or Palladia, among others.
      I hope this points you in a good direction
      Dr D

  18. Joe on December 2, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler. I’d like to ask you about my dog. She’s almost 13 (next March)and has a HUGE lump on her side which was diagnosed (via aspirate not biopsy) as being soft tissue sarcoma. The vet that I went to suggested not to operate as she didn’t want to put her “over the edge” and she said the lump was so big it probably wouldn’t grow more as big tumors reach a point where they don’t grow anymore. Well, needless to say the lump has kept growing and it’s now the size of a cantaloupe. I took her to a surgery clinic and they said it would be a very invasive procedure that would cost in the range of $3000(this after an MRI that would be in the neighborhood of $900-1000 so close to $4000 total) and they probably wouldn’t get all of the tumor so it would probably grow back anyways.
    She’s on 20mg Prednisone (every other day after the 5 day twice a day and then 5 day once a day.)which makes her EXTREMELY thirsty and she;s already taking Proin 25 for incontinence which is nullified by the amount of water she’s drinking, so often times especially after taking the Prednisone, there is big puddle of urine behind her after prolonged sleep. Her appetite is so-so compared to 4 months ago for example when she didn’t have the tumor, but she enjoys her chicken (cooked in pressure cooker) or roast (slow cooked)and she’ll eat some dry grain free kibble as well plus a senior vitamin.
    For some reason, she’s less reluctant to eat the cheaper grain rich kibble that my other dog eats!
    So at this point, since there appears to be nothing else we can do since the very expensive surgery which I can’t afford may be too much for her and without guarantees, I’m considering going all natural with Essiac, CoQ10, Milk Thistle, Curcumin, enzymes and ImmunoPro (or other immune system boosters) MINUS the Prednisone which seems to be making her more uncomfortable than helping due to the extreme thirst and urine leakage.
    Do you think that at this point it’s more counterproductive to use Prednisone since it’s an immuno-suppressant? Besides her finicky eating with the dry food only she seems to be alright enjoying playing fetch, our walks and car rides and being feisty towards our other dogs like she’s always been!
    I know you can only give suggestions and opinions and not medical advice but I’d like to know what you think about me not giving her Prednisone anymore since I’d be giving her immune boosters. Forgive my long post.
    Thank you very much. Looking very much forward to your reply.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on December 10, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Dear Joe
      pred has limited usefulness for these so I would discuss with your vet tapering off it. See if there is a vet that will do the surgery without the MRI (if safe enough). Consider apoptogens and neoplasene and high dose IV vit C as some more robust options to consider with your vet.
      If you have not read the Guide, i believe this would be worth the investment.
      I hope this helps

  19. byron on November 17, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    My dog has prostate cancer he is being taken care of by a hollistic vet he was on 15 mg prednisone and he is now down to .25 mg he was diagnosed in feb 2011 and has never been healthier, he is an american eskimo dog 11 years old an athlete all his life running in agility competions, i am hopping to get him off the prednisone by next year. Changing they way he eats and what he eats has been the best thing I have ever done most dog foods are killing our dogs.

  20. Gillian Dey on October 20, 2011 at 1:46 am

    my 14 year old has been diagnosed with MAST cell, she is on Prednil, is this of the family of Prednisolone? i dont like the side effects of bloating, hunger, thirst and weakness in the back legs. I am at odds as to whether continue with the drug when the Vet says she only has a couple of months to live, the cancer already progressed to the liver.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on October 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Dear Gillian,
      there are other options- other pharmaceuticals (Kinavet, masitinib, and more), diet, apoptogens, and others. Are all of the tools at your disposal being used (always consult with your veterinarian)?
      Dr D

  21. Santhosh on October 18, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Dr. Dressler, I just bought The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and its very helpful to understand the options I have and the dietary changes needed. My 10 yr old lab, was recently diagnosed with low grade sarcoma after conducting a couple of biopsies. There is a growth on his palate and his new vet, who is a surgeon, just began with chemotherapy using Vincristine sulphate (Biocristin-AQ is the name of the specific drug). I tried looking for a veterinary Oncologist in India (I live in a city called Bangalore) but couldn’t find one. I would be grateful if you can recommend one/contact me so that I can explain further.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on October 20, 2011 at 8:02 pm

      Dear Santhost,
      I am sorry but I do not have a recommendation for oncologists in India.

  22. jenny on October 17, 2011 at 9:31 am

    My yorkshire terrier responded very well to prednisone for the last five weeks of her life; she ate well, had more energy, and didn’t have any major side effects. There is no cure for widespread cancer so whatever works to make your animal comfortable seems the best course of action.

  23. Ellie on October 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Why do you say to cut the dose of Apocaps if the dog is receiving prednisone ?

    The directions that come with the Apocaps say not to use them at all if the dog is getting prednisone. If I had known that before I bought them, I wouldn’t have wasted $65.

    • Demian Dressler on October 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

      Dear Ellie,
      general information can be found on the Apocaps website:

      The apoptogens in Apocaps possess some anti inflammatory effects. As a general precaution, the statement to avoid the use of Apocaps with prednisolone is made on the bottle. Under veterinary supervision, we commonly use Apocaps along with pred medications but at reduced doses. The reason is there can be some overlapping side effects (rare digestive upset) when full strength Apocaps are used with full strength cortisone drugs. Thus under veterinary supervision at reduced doses and while the patient is monitored, this use is acceptable. Our highest priority is pet safety, and we are deliberately very precautious with safety recommendations, just as you would find with an over the counter medication such as aspirin, on the package insert.
      As to your concern, if you are not fully satisfied you may return the product for a full refund.
      I hope this clarifies your question and helps.

  24. Bob Laws on October 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    My Labrador was diagnosed with Lymphoma in early August. We quickly started reading up in this type of cancer in an effort to get as informed as possible. Chemotherapy was financially impossible. I was given some Prednisone by one veterinarian who suggested either of two similar approaches. I needed clarification on how much Prednisone whould really help, as we got some relief, but it kind of came and went. I called your clinic in Kihei and found out you don’t take phone calls or e-mail, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me that you’re super busy, as I can only imagine with all you do for pets and their owners. I had already bought the DC Survival Guide. But I needed to know if I could up the dosage when the L-Glands under my dog’s jaw began to swell more than before, and he was jjust dragging around the house. I left a simple message with your assistant with no promise that you would call back. You didn’t call back. But what would help people would be a way to get simple information quickly. I put the dog down within the 2 months estimated life time expected, still not knowing. I got the book though..so what. Your time is valuable and that’s the way it is. But do you want to help people or not?

    • Demian Dressler on October 15, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Dear Bob,
      I am sorry to hear about your dog, and I know that dealing with canine lymphoma is very painful.
      Now, as to individual consultation: writing a book and a blog does not mean that I can be a veterinarian for everyone across the country at all times. I answer most questions to the best of my ability here on the blog, free of charge, as a public service. However, I do not supplant your veterinarian in giving specific and unique directions to cases where I cannot see the patient, have done not done a physical exam, have no access to lab work, etc. As a matter of fact, giving specific medical advice under these conditions regarding drug dosing for a given animal without having the veterinarian in charge of case management involved, and supervising the instructions, is not only bad medicine, it is borderline unethical professionally (at best). Finally, I have my own practice and a full caseload of patients, and there are only 24 hours in a day. So yes, I do want to help people, and I will do so to the best of my ability and within what I choose as feasible for me personally, and what is acceptable professionally and medically. Your veterinarian is the person who is responsible for drug dosing protocol and I am sure would have answered this question for you, and is the person who medically is managing your pet’s day to day needs.
      Thank you for your understanding
      Dr D

  25. Barb on October 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Hello, This is very good advice. I’m editor of the Sussex Spaniel Club of America’s newsletter, The Scentinel, and would like to reprint this article for our members. We have about 140 members. I believe they would find the information useful and interesting. Thank you. Barb Jones

    • Demian Dressler on October 15, 2011 at 4:12 pm

      Dear Barb,
      no problem, just cite source and feel free to distribute.
      Dr D

  26. Mark on October 14, 2011 at 1:24 am

    Actually, the same thought process was done with the chemo option we chose Doxorubicin. Has some nasty side effects, but with its ability to add some time to her diagnosis, it’s the route we chose for a few reasons.

  27. Mark on October 14, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Good stuff. I try to take the more holistic approach with myself and my Great Dane that has lymphoma. And while she was on a high dose of prednisone at first, it is tapering down, and the side effects weren’t that bad. Obviously all drugs have the negative side, but like said you have to weigh the situation and see if the benefits outweigh the negatives along with other options.

    Considering it can be quite effective, makes every sense to use it.

    • Demian Dressler on October 15, 2011 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks very much for your comments Mark
      Dr D

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