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

Where Do I Begin?

Updated: January 3rd, 2019

“I am overwhelmed with all the information I am reading to help my dog with cancer.” Does this sound familiar to anyone out there?

Most of the readers of this blog are searching for information.

Once a true malignancy has developed, the realities can feel utterly unacceptable.

This leads to information gathering.  Whenever we are faced with situations that appear unsolvable, many will search for solutions.  And here you are.

The problem is that there is too much data out there, and you might lack a road map.

This was the motivation behind the Dog Cancer Survival Guide: sift through all the data, pick only the best, and provide a framework yielding improved outcomes.

I thought it would be useful to provide you with an outline here that you can start filling in with your data, if you do not have the Guide.

First: put on your oxygen mask.  This means that you need to deal with whatever emotions come up for you so you can think clearly to help your dog.  The Dog Cancer Coping Guide is one option. Others include counselors, support groups, old friends and so on.

Next, if appropriate, perform a Life Quality Analysis.  This involves widening back, considering how much risk and side effects you are willing to risk given your dog’s expected lifespan. Then the expected positives are weighed against the negatives.

A part of Life Quality Analysis is to define what your personal ideas are about treatment and take a stand. At this point it is critical to have the courage to be your dog’s primary health care advocate.

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Now choose what you will utilize in conventional veterinary care for your dog. Options are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  Clinical trials may be available in your area.

Consider also more rarely used but promising options like IV Vitamin C and neoplasine, which require your vet’s involvement.

Discuss with your vet and oncologist the pros and cons, side effects and expected outcomes.  Take notes.

After noting side effects, consider what you will use to lessen them.  Many are discussed in the Guide and in this blog.

Minimize pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression, heart damage, kidney injury, liver harm and other toxicities related to treatments.

Get your dog on a cancer diet.  One blanket recommendation is carbohydrate restriction. Sugars and starches turned into sugars are cancer food, so avoid if possible. There are recipes in the Guide as well.

Do what you can to stimulate your dog’s immune system. I discussed many approaches like cancer vaccines, medicinal mushrooms, astralagus, Beres Drops, Avemar, AHCC and others. Many are in this blog.

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

Rotation between supplements helps get an average. Some may help and some may not, but if you rotate you will likely get some wins.

Choose among the supplements that have solid in vivo (in living bodies) evidence for shrinking tumors, slowing growth, and decreasing metastasis.

Some of these include Artemisinin, curcumin, luteolin, EGCG, flax lignans, melatonin, and more.  Rotation details are in the Guide.

Do what you can to maximize life quality and happiness by boosting your dog’s self esteem, social activity, stimulation, exercise if possible, and minimizing stress.

This is a basic framework you can use like an outline.   I use it to organize my thoughts when starting on a treatment plan for Full Spectrum Cancer care.

Best to all,

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Kevin Roeckl on April 1, 2021 at 9:32 am

    I have the “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide”. In it, K-9 Immunity (product) is recommended, but not K-9 Immunity Plus, because of the added cane sugar. I checked K-9 Immunity Plus online just now and the ingredients no longer include cane sugar. However, “glycerin” is an ingredient. I also have a natural dog treat that I thought was safe, but I see “glycerin” listed as an ingredient.

    I can’t find any info about whether glycerin is safe for dogs with cancer. K-9 Immunity Plus is recommended on Is glycerin a safe sweetener for dogs with cancer?

    • Molly Jacobson on April 1, 2021 at 10:53 am

      Hello Kevin,

      ​Thanks for writing. I’m not an expert on these things, but I do know a little. Glycerin is a type of sugar alcohol extracted from vegetables, so yes, it does have a sweet taste. However, it’s primary use is not really for sweetness, but for smoothness and/or bulk.

      For example, it’s used in skin care products as a moisturizer and a emulsifier. When you add it to water and vitamin C, for example, it blends those two products together so they don’t separate.

      ​In food, it makes things smoother and better blended. The same is true for supplements. ​

      ​Any type of treat or supplement that has a chewy or soft mouth feel may be using glycerin to get that. For example, in K9 Immunity plus, the soft chewy “treat-like” wafers require something like glycerin to be sure that the active ingredients distribute evenly, blend, and hold together.

      ​I understand why you are worried about the sugar content. I don’t think a little tiny bit of glycerin is going to contribute a lot of carbs to your dog’s diet. If you want to use that product, I personally wouldn’t worry about glycerin.

      ​It’s generally a safe ingredient, and I think the sugar content it contributes is minuscule.

      ​Now, my dogs just don’t LIKE the taste of those wafers. So I prefer to use their capsules instead. But for dogs who like them, it’s a convenient “treat” experience to get them to take their mushrooms!

      ​My perspective comes not just from having multiple dogs with cancer, but from editing the book and thinking about dog cancer and all of these topics since 2007. While I think a low-carb diet is important, the benefits of giving medicinal mushrooms is way higher than the negatives of giving a little glycerin.

      ​I hope that helps!

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