One of the most overlooked areas on conventional medicine today is the huge impact of brain chemistry on cancers.
No, I am not talking about some kind of “New Age” mumbo jumbo. This is strait-up clinical medicine.
Here’s how it works, and how you can use this information to help your dog fight cancer.
First, let’s look at a definition. Psychosomatic means the interaction between brain signals and body processes, including the body’s ability to fight existing cancers and those that may develop later.
The process in the body goes like this: your dog’s brain gets information from the world using the senses- eyes, ears, touch and so on. The brain then processes the info and makes patterns. Next, it sends chemical signals into the bloodstream that “talk” to organs in the body. The organs “listen” to the signals and respond.
For example, suppose your dog gets lonely often. Or maybe he or she needs to get some exercise and feels frustrated. Perhaps your four legged family member is bored frequently.
All of these are situations that don’t seem solvable to your dog (at least, without you taking steps to solve your dog’s problem).
Unsolvable situations produce stress in the body. The brain computes that something is wrong and cannot fix the issue. Signals are sent from the brain to the adrenal glands, nerve endings and other areas in the body.
The adrenals and nerve endings respond to the signals by secreting hormones and chemical signals of their own. These signals are detected by immune system cells.
The immune system is designed to fight cancers. When cancer develops, the ability of the immune system to fight the cancers has been overwhelmed.
When the immune system detects these chemical signals, key cancer-fighting immune cells become weakened. This has been shown in publications.
Long term feelings of isolation, anxiety, boredom, and agitation lead to increased cancers in the body.
The key here is whether our dogs have a way to solve the problem or not. Everyone gets a little aggravation in life. But if it goes on for a long time and there is no way to fix it, there are real, measurable health problems that result.
This is the critical part of the process that really has a harmful impact on dogs with (or developing) cancer.
This was shown in an experiment with rats. There were two groups. One group had to endure electric shocks, but they were provided with an escape route. The other group was forced to experience the shocks, but they had no escape.
The rats with the escape route (providing a solution to the problem) had much lower rates of cancer development and cancer spread.
How many situations in your dog’s life contribute to isolation, boredom, anxiety, and a lack of physical or mental stimulation?
By taking some time to really put yourself in your dog’s shoes, and honestly asking yourself whether your dog could be creating these brain states, you can start fixing a real-life problem that could add time to your dog’s lifespan and help life quality to boot.
The best way is to take 20-30 minutes in your day and block it off for this. If you don’t schedule time, other life details will prevent you from getting it done and it will never happen. We are all busy these days.
Identify times you are away from your dog. Look at how much social interaction your dog gets (with other pets or people) every day, week, or month. Write them down. How much mental stimulation does your dog get? How many times does your dog end up panting after an activity (physical stimulation)? How much interactive, dynamic play does your dog get?
Next, make a schedule. Daily, weekly, and monthly. Put activities in this schedule that fix the problem.
For more tools you can use to help your dog, that you will not find in conventional cancer medicine, check out 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.