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

Surgery and Supplements: Bleeding Risks

Updated: May 15th, 2024

All herbs and supplements are safe because they are natural, right?

Wrong.  The word “natural” seems to mean harmless.  No side effects.  Non toxic.  But this simply is false information.

Anything in the body, no matter what it is, can create a harmful. effect.  Drinking too much water, seen with swine sometimes, can give seizures.  Taking too many vitamins can result in different toxic reactions.  It is all a matter of dosing, interactions, and sensitivity.

Take surgery, for example.  Surgery is a serious topic. There are always risks to contemplate with surgery, although modern protocols make the risks much less than they used to be.

However, there are some interactions that you need to know about!

I discuss these and more in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, and here I want to give you some information about bleeding tendencies caused by supplements.

Many have heard that aspirin is a “blood thinner”.  This means that the ability of blood to make clots goes down. Now, when your dog is undergoing a surgical procedure, he or she needs to have this important ability.

The reason dogs need to be able to clot their blood is that they must be able to stop bleeding when an incision is made. This includes a surgical incision. Otherwise, there may be dangerous blood loss.

Certain commonly used supplements discussed in the Guide are capable of some blood thinning effects, along the lines of aspirin.

These include ginger, garlic, fish and krill oil, flax its oil, curcumin, luteolin, to name a few.  Since we are on the topic, there are pharmaceuticals that can do it too which are used for pain control and as anti inflammatory drugs: Deramaxx, Rimadyl, Metacam, Previcox and others.

Apocaps, which is a combination nutraceutical using multiple different key plant extracts, has instructions on this topic as well.

The safest thing is to stop these types of supplements roughly 10 days before surgery until the wounds are totally healed.


Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Vicki on November 10, 2010 at 5:15 am

    One of my dogs has very large lymph glands and it is looking like lymphoma. We biopsied a lymph gland Monday and sent for analysis. She has been eating well but after the surgery her appetite is not as good. The lymph glands under her jaw are huge so I am sure that is a factor.

    She has had chronic skin issues likely allergies, but elimination diets did not totally help. Still had very itchy feet. Feet got a lot worse right before the lymph glands were noticable, bright red and itchy. Energy level in the last few months has definitely declined. She was an active agility dog and was recently retired. She is 9-1/2, totally raw fed, only vacced for rabies. She has been treated primarily with classical Homeopathy except when she had an emergency spay 3 years ago. Unfortunately we weren’t at home when this happen and she ended up at a vet school where they pumped her full of lots of drugs and did two transfusions and refused to spay immediately, even though I insisted.

    Long story short, she is currently on Arnica 200c for after surgery, we are upping the potency to 10m today. We have given her a B-12 shot, I would like to know how much of this I can give, I think it should be beneficial. Also what can I start her on now supplement wise to help with the lymph glands inflamation.

    If we go a more conventional route We are likely going to do pred instead of chemo given her health history we don’t feel Chemo is a good choice


  2. Kathy Murray on April 29, 2010 at 5:55 am

    I have started to read the Cancer Survival Guide but I hope I never ever have to use it ever again.



  3. Leroy Twisdale on April 28, 2010 at 8:33 am

    How do I email Dr. Dressler about a specific cancer that my dog has? Mr. Twisdale

  4. Anand on April 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Dr. Dressler, this is mostly off-topic, but speaking of omega-3 fatty acids, your book recommends 10-12 grams of krill or fish oil per day for a large dog. Hill’s n/d which has been proven to extend the lives of dogs with lymphoma offers about 70 grams of omega-3’s if used as the sole food for a large dog, if my calculations from the website are correct . You also recommend 2 packets of Juven, the very expensive amino acid supplement, which has a total of 14 grams of arginine. Hill’s n/d gives about 30 grams of arginine (and does not contain listed amounts of HMB or Glutamine). I’m not eager to put my dog on Hill’s n/d since it is so expensive and the first ingredient sounds disgusting (beef by-products), and I’ve read that a lot of dogs don’t like the taste, and I’d rather my dog enjoy his food to the fullest than hate his food and live a few months longer. However, are these numbers correct? Should the doses of krill oil and L-arginine we give our dogs with lymphoma be so high? And I’m reading about arginine powders that are usually bought by bodybuilders (much, much cheaper than Juven), and every single review notes how it’s the worst tasting supplement on earth and how impossible it is to mask it. Is there anyway to give high doses of arginine without having to stuff 40 pills down my dog’s throat?


    • Dr. Dressler on May 2, 2010 at 11:43 pm

      Dear Arnand,
      Yes, the doses are pretty massive. Remember we are not dealing with healthy metabolisms in our cancer dogs, and the disease is nasty, so we use rather whopping doses of various things. In chemo the strategy is Maximum Tolerated Dose too (as much as the dog can handle), in surgery we do wide excisions (getting lots of normal appearing tissue around the tumor out)…etc.
      But your point is well taken about the pill stuffing. We have life quality issues there. So the bottom line is do what you can. Pick the top supplements (apoptogens (which is easy now with Apocaps), omegas, beta glucans) as a start. The second edition of the Guide which I’m working on has a supplement hierarchy for this.
      The aminos are nice but more important for dogs that are starting to lose a lot of weight, and remember, a good dog cancer diet has a ton of protein, rich is aminos…
      Also remember mirtazipine and remeron (appetite stimulants) along with antacids (famotidine, cimetidine (the latter has some anticancer effects but less antacid effects), ginger for nausea (in Apocaps), slippery elm and/or pharmaceuticals for diarrhea, etc, all to help with appetite.

  5. Thornton on April 22, 2010 at 8:28 am


    Totally off-topic, but… just wanted to know:

    How do you pronounce your first name?

    Is it DEMian or DEEmian?

    • Dr. Dressler on May 2, 2010 at 11:33 pm

      Dear Thornton,
      it is pronounced “day mee an”, as in “have a good day..”

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