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

But my vet has not heard of this….

Updated: December 21st, 2018

Dear dog lovers,

I have been deluged with comments that some vets out there, maybe even most, have not heard of many of the approaches to dealing with cancer that are beyond surgery, chemo and radiation.

As a consequence, there seems to be a large “black box” as to what to do, how to arrive at a full spectrum plan, what side effects can one expect, what doses to use, and so on, regarding some of the treatments discussed here.

I would like to iterate a few points. First, many of the treatment ideas included in this blog, and in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, are in their infancy. This means that we really have just started looking at them as possible weapons against dog cancer.

For this reason, the specifics on some data may not exist. Many times we have to pick a “safest” approach, while at the same time trying to maximize the utility of the “outside the box” treatment. Often, we have to estimate from human data or lab animal studies.

Secondly, due to the fact that the area of study in cancer care that is beyond surgery, chemo and radiation is truly in it’s infancy, many vets will have not heard of most of these topics. They are simply not taught in veterinary school.

Third, vets are usually very busy people. It takes energy to sit down and read something, and sometimes we just don’t have the fuel left in our tanks. It takes even more energy to educate oneself about a topic that is completely new.

Lastly, it takes a bold thinker to be able to say, “I don’t know,” which is the first step in information gathering. Some of us are unable or do not want to make this statement.

All of this creates an environment where a dog’s human will want improved outcomes, then find information, next go to the vet, and finally have the vet report that they are unable to help. What a disappointment!

For this reason, I really encourage all of you to learn to become your dog’s primary health care advocate. You are in charge.

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

In other areas of life, we are quite used to this idea. We don’t let anyone tell us how to raise our children, for example. We assume responsibility for preventing ourselves from getting in a car accident on the road. We speak up if someone cuts in front of us in a line waiting for the cashier.

However, in the area of health care, we have been programmed to listen to the doctor. Yes, we have been indoctrinated in this area. As a result, we ask the doctor about things. We often take the advice of the doctor and that’s it.

However, in the area of cancer management, whether we are talking about lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, grade 2 or 3 mast cell tumor, osteosarcoma, or whatever, we have a problem.

The tools available to many of us vets have rather limited success rates in some cases. And there is veterinarian resistance or data deficits in the realm of what other options are available.

So where does that leave you? You must be in charge! You must be the one bringing the information to your vet. Take a stand. No, to not be argumentative. Do not be hostile. But you are in a position to bring your vet literature and information and say, “I want this for my dog. Will you please help me?” Be kind to your vet! Create a safe space for you to work together to check out some of these newer ideas.

I have learned a lot from my clients. Just a few years ago, I poo poo’ed almost anything a dog owner would show up with, if it was “alternative” or “herbal” or anything that was not made by Pfizer, Bayer or Fort Dodge.

Nothing is written in stone. Medicine is not black and white. When you are in a war, you do what you need to do to survive. Work together with your vet and be creative.  Expand the veterinary information database personally. Do not let fear paralyze your freedom. Many times you have not much to lose and a lot to gain.

Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Joan on January 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I have been to 5 vets and not one will follow your protocols. I am a widow on a fixed income and cannot keep shopping vets. I bought the book and followed diet and supplement protocols with good results. However, I would like to try some other non OTC protocols and I can’t find a vet willing to tell me if he will try without a visit. HOW CAN I FIND A VET WILLING TO DO YOUR PROTOCOLS? DO YOU HAVE A LIST OF SYMPATHETIC PARTICIPATING VETS? That would be so helpful. I live in Florida BTW. Is neoplasene effective against mast cell cancer? Is cream, injection or oral ingestion more effective. Thank you.

  2. Tammy on June 30, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    My 1.5 year old boxer, Rocky has had a history of mast cell tumors in his young life. I have read that manipulation or handling of MCT’s can aggrivate them and make them spread, so instead of surgery, I have been using the Cansema black salve on the 3 that he has had. It has worked, and removed them. However, this latest one, is on his right hip bone, and the salve only removed part of it. I am now panicking becasue I don’t know whether to opt for surgery, or whether to use the Masivet or really what do to. He is very active, healthy and is fed a raw food diet of meats, veggies, fish. My holistic vet has him on 5 different chinese herbs, and probiotics and vitamins. Do you have any advice for Rocky and me? We would be most grateful, thank you so much.

  3. Sandeep on June 6, 2010 at 5:08 am

    Dear Dr Dressler,

    I have a 9yr old mixed breed dog who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma about 1 month back . The diagnosis was a bit late and his hind leg from the pelvic region down was already swollen. The vets over here in India ruled out surgery saying the bone involvement was high. Other conventional therapies were also ruled out for various reasons. Consequent to this I was on the net immediately in my search for a cure and I found out about Dr Singh’s Arte and as per his advice put him on Artesunate once a day, three weeks back. The tumour has now softened at places and there seems to be a big cavity under the skin when you press it. What does this indicate, can you pl guide ? You have a wealth of info and varied alternative therapies but a lot of them cannot be applied here in as veterinary facilities are limited. There is also a treatment option called Noscapine, which is a cough syrup. Has this been tried, if yes What is the dosage ?

    • Dr. Dressler on June 6, 2010 at 11:37 pm

      Dear Reader,
      it could indicate that there is some remission (hopefully). I do not use Noscapine…have you read the Survival Guide? Many of the therapies can be accessed on line..Best,
      Dr D

  4. Diane Ellis on April 22, 2009 at 3:46 am

    My 8 year old bichon frise has just completed the Wisconsin Protocol (lymphoma). Can you suggest a dietary plan or vitamin supplements that will prolong remission?

  5. Judy on April 19, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    I have just finished reading your book. Any info on a chemical treatment my holistic vet recommended for my dog’s lymphosarcoma: hydrazine sulphate? Thanks.

  6. Dr. Dressler on April 15, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    targeted radiation is a way of minimizing the side effects of the radiation by restricting the exposure of healthy tissue to the beam. It is a good way to help with inoperable tumors like this.
    For more answers tune in to the webinar where I can address your question:

  7. JB on April 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    Our dog has prostate cancer. Has anyone heard any feedback about targeted radiation at Colorado State U over a 5 day period ?? The tumor is blocking the urethera and prior to radiation (travel/work delay issues) what can be done to quickly shrink tumor – is on poraxicam but open to alternatives to increase urination ability. He is perky, eating, full of life but only can pee when laying down due to the tumor. Any feedback appreciated

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