The approach in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, as well as my own personal philosophy concerning problem-solving, is to use what works, regardless of the packaging material.
In other words, it makes no difference if the recommendation comes from a conventional (allopathic) vet, or an “alternative” vet, as long as it works, is safe and gives some advantage, let’s capitalize on it.
A difficulty can be marrying ideas from different systems, in particular when juggling side effects or interferences between systems.
Say you want to use a supplement for your dog, take Apocaps (the one I use for my patients) for example. How does this interact with conventional drugs or treatments? Well, for Apocaps there is an FAQ page on the website, but you don’t have the benefit of that for others.
Let’s look at “blood thinners”. Many supplements and drugs may have a “blood thinning” effect.
What do we mean when the phrase “blood thinning” is used?
In actuality, this phrase is a horrible choice. When we use the word “thinning”, it conjures up a concept called viscosity, which means how thick a liquid is. High viscosity, very thick, like syrup. Low viscosity, very “thin”, like water.
In actuality, “thin” blood is created by anemia or a low red blood cell count. Anemic blood is very watery and dilute.
At any rate, what people are referring to when the phrase “blood thinners” is bandied about, is a left-over, archaic idea about humans prone to blood clotting who should take some aspirin to “thin” their blood.
I suppose this was meant to imply allowing blood flow without clotting. (Honestly, blood clotting is less frequent in companion animals compared to human patients.)
But really what is being referenced as “blood thinning” is low blood clotting, which is a totally different concept from anemia.
What’s all this about clotting anyway, and why do we care? The reason our four-legged family members need adequate blood clotting is to stop bleeding. This could be bleeding from a surgery or a tumor or from trauma or some other reason.
Low clotting, excessive blood loss. This is why people (and the rare pet) on actual pharmaceutical blood “thinners” (anticoagulants) bruise easily- they bleed within their skin without adequate blood clotting.
Okay, so what does this mean for you and your dog?
There are some supplements and drugs that have some mild anticoagulant effects, or could in a small percentage of dogs. You would want to keep these in mind if your dog is having an upcoming surgery.
And for all of you out there of the mindset “if it’s natural it has no side effects”, please tune in.
Here’s a little list of all-natural supplements that could have a little blood thinning effect:
- fish oil
- krill oil
- omega-3 supplements
- garlic supplements
- curcumin or turmeric
- maritime pine bark
- Apocaps (the apoptogen supplement I created for my patients)
- skullcap (scutellaria)
Not that there is a large risk of a problem here (more theoretical than anything), since the effects we are talking about are mild to none. But to be safe, I advise my clients to hold off on these supplements a minimum of 3-5 days before surgery.
We see some similar effects possible, again at least theoretically, with anti-inflammatory drugs like Metacam, Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Etogesic, Previcox, Adequan, and others.
Now, having said that, the risk is so low that most vets will routinely use these meds postoperatively, but nonetheless, it would be wise to check with your vet before surgery if your dog is on drugs like these to see whether stopping them would be a wise choice before large surgeries with a lot of bleeding risk.
The other thing to keep in mind is that dogs with pre-existing bleeding disorders like low platelet counts, Von Willebrand’s disease or blood clotting factor deficiencies may be more at risk, since these dogs may be more prone to blood loss during surgery anyway.
I believe that every dog should have a nail or buccal mucosal bleeding test before surgery to make sure their clotting is in order. These are easy, done under anesthesia (painless), inexpensive, and take about 3-5 minutes.
If you would like to learn more about the top supplements in this arena, and how they interact with conventional veterinary care, get The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.
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.