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

Can I give supplements with Chemotherapy?

Updated: December 12th, 2018

In the world of dog cancer, we find ourselves in a war where we can be under-gunned.

I must confess that when I look at this statement, I find myself wondering whether it is healthy. To think about dealing with malignancies as a war?  Perhaps this analogy is too violent, too antagonistic, too contrary.

The facts as they stand are that in spite of surgery, chemo and radiation, this disease can kill.  And when something kills, this sure seems like a survival-stakes deal.

So the question comes up often, “Can I use this or that supplement with chemo in my dog?”

When we are mixing and matching therapies (supplements along with chemo and other treatments), we often have little to lose and a lot to gain.

I have found there is so much fear abounding about lessening the effects of chemotherapy by using certain supplements.  Yet, does the chemo insure a survival? No, chemo does not insure survival, with a few rare exceptions.

Instead we are just going for palliation, defined as a decrease in the signs and symptoms of a disease.

A remission is a sort of high level palliation.

The odd thing is that I find this fear in myself as well, and am learning that perhaps it is not wise.  I have seen some real benefits from the supplements written about in these posts and in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

No, I am not claiming these are the cures of cancer.  But objective tumor shrinkage in some cases, extended life spans beyond what you would expect, and improved life quality.  Good stuff.

There is some evidence that certain compounds that have antioxidant potential interfere with chemotherapy, and there is some evidence to the contrary.  The fact is that the jury is still out, and there are no generalizations that can be made because the data is sparse.

If you have a dog with a long median life expectancy (the cancer is very slow, or can be cured with surgery), you can afford to not mix and match. Get the chemo or radiation treatments done, wait 2-3 weeks, then get on the supplement program. This is because it is still wise to be prudent and err on the side of caution…

When you have the luxury of time on your side. And only then!

If you have been told that your loved dog, your best friend or family member, has months to live, I say it’s time to come out with guns blazing.

Worried about less chemo efficacy?  But a licensed medical professional (and yes, I am aware I am in this group) has told you in spite of doxorubicin, peroxicam, mitoxantrone, prednsolone, vinblastine or whatever, your dog has months to live…

what does your dog have to lose?

We must all recall that medicine, in spite of current dogma (bad pun), truly is still an art.  There is more to it than formulas and algorithms. Dogs are not decision trees.

Yes,  many flavonoids  (EGCG, luteolin, curcumin) have some anti inflammatory effects like piroxicam.  Maybe we should avoid overlapping side effects from piroxicam plus EGCG to protect the kidneys, liver, and lining of the stomach and intestine?

If I have a dog with a raging bleeding transitional cell carcinoma killing someone’s best friend, you can bet I would suggest both EGCG right along with piroxicam, both at full strength dose. After consideration, it is worth the risk.

As long as we are think about what we are doing, and consider the risks from a overarching viewpoint, in some cases it should be no holds barred.

This is the art of medicine.

As long as we do not harm in the big picture, why not give our dogs every chance they can get?

Best to all,


Leave a Comment

  1. Toby on August 9, 2020 at 8:13 am

    Hi Dr Dressler,

    My dog has indolenr lymphoma and is on Chlorambucil. Can I give Apocaps to him. Will Apocaps hv reaction with Chlorambucil?

    Tks, Toby

    • Molly Jacobson on August 10, 2020 at 3:01 pm

      Hello Toby, in general, Apocaps can be used with prescription drugs, including chemotherapy drugs, including chlorambucil. There are no interactions. Please ask your veterinarian if Apocaps is a good fit for your dog’s case. Thank you!

  2. Susan Kazara Harper on June 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    It sounds as if you”re doing a wonderful job in helping Beau.There are a couple things I believe will help.
    First, hold off on any addition of antioxidants until you read this links;
    Antioxidants can be very helpful in a healthy body, but we really don’t want to use antioxidants in a dog dealing with cancer.
    Second, have you downloaded the Dog Cancer Diet from the log page? It’s so helpful about what to feed, as well as what not to feed. Some grains actually have wonderful, cancer fighting properties.
    And third, as you search for a dietary supplement, please look at Apocaps is a dietary apoptogen comprised of beautifully sourced, top-quality ingredients which have been proven to enable apoptosis… natural cell death. And the turmeric you seek is a prime ingredient in Apocaps. You can use Apocaps alongside standard chemotherapy protocol, with only minor adjustments, if warranted. So please review the Diet and the Apocaps website, which also has a tab that your vet can access for further information. Don’t hesitate to contact our Support Team on 808-568-3252 if you have further queries. We’re here and happy to help. Give Beau a Beau-tiful cuddle from us, and a a hug for you as well. All the best,

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