Life quality is a major part of dealing with canine cancer.
Since cancer is a disease that impacts a loved dog’s quality of life, it makes sense that we should pay attention to it. Treatments designed to kill cancer cells are not enough.
One of the overlooked areas in conventional veterinary medicine is that of the touch therapies. The amazing thing about touch therapies is that many can be done by you, your dog’s guardian, at home. And the price is right at zero dollars.
One of the most fundamental touch therapies is massage, which is discussed in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. I would like to introduce this topic in relation to dog cancer care today.
Many will immediately dismiss this idea. Phooey. Sounds like woo-woo stuff, not real. Not hard science, you know.
Well, science now points out that this viewpoint is not actually correct. Massage is not woo-woo. In actuality, massage is now being incorporated at the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. If you have not heard of it, this facility is one of the premier human cancer treatment centers in the world.
Massage has been shown to help relieve anxiety in human cancer patients in published studies. This paper discusses how human oncologists should become comfortable with massage recommendations, and we can apply the same thinking to veterinary cancer care.
In another study involving 1,290 cancer patients, massage was shown to improve symptoms like pain, nausea, depression, anxiety and fatigue. This improvement was estimated at more than 50% overall! That is quite a margin.
Another review showed benefits in psychological well-being. As guardians and family members of dogs, it is clear to you that dogs have psychological states that change just as ours do. Well being in this area is just as important for a dog as it is for a person.
Finally, a paper out of Sweden showed that blood pressure went down after massage. Not surprising. The surprising part involved a special cell called the natural killer (NK) cell.
NK cells are specialized white blood cells that are central in fighting cancers. It is their job to locate and destroy cancer cells.
However, radiation therapy causes these cells to be suppressed.
The amazing thing the scientists in Sweden found was that massage was able to lessen the harmful effect of the radiation therapy on the activity of the NK cells!
So, consider massaging your dog regularly. There is good evidence it can help. Go light on the little ones and the old timers. Use flat fingers and go slowly, focusing on large muscle groups and the natural valleys that your fingers fall into between the muscles. Pay attention to your dog while you do this for feedback.
If you can, do it daily. It is free, wholesome, and it can make you both feel great.
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.
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