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

Vitamin C for Canine Cancer Patients?

Updated: December 17th, 2018

Many have heard of the Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling.  After winning the prize in chemistry in 1954, he went off on this tangent and decided to be the major proponent of vitamin C for health.

Lots of people became pretty excited, and decided to see if Vitamin C did anything to cancer cells in the lab.  In test tube studies, they found it sure did, see for yourself.  Melanoma cells, leukemia cells, neuroblastoma cells, carcinoma cells, fibrosarcoma cells…you get the idea.  Sure enough, it seemed Linus was on to something.

And Vitamin C did not kill these nasties by being an antioxidant.  No.  It actually had pro-oxidant effects, and increased the free radicals within the cancer cells to make them die.  See the blog on ozone for more about oxidation.

Anyway, among Mr. Pauling’s ideas was to take massive oral doses to get high blood levels so the vitamin C would do what it did in a test tube. Unfortunately for Linus, there was a flaw in his thinking.

You don’t get good blood levels of Vitamin C when you take it by mouth, and neither does your dog.  Turns out the body keeps the Vitamin C in a low range when given as a tablet.  And the range is too low.

Two published clinical trials found that vitamin C did not do anything for cancer patients. Things did not look good for Linus.

But it turns out that there is hope.  There are ways to use the cancer-killing effect of vitamin C for dogs with cancer.  And it turns out that these ways might really work.  Stay tuned for more!!

Best to all,

Dr Dressler

Leave a Comment

  1. Christine Smith on April 19, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Can I buy vitamin C for my dog at a health food store or pharmacy?

    • Molly Jacobson on April 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Christine, the vitamin C treatment Dr. D is referring to is given intravenously, so you’d have to go to the veterinarian.

  2. Nancy on May 25, 2012 at 5:04 am

    I should ad he will be 8 yrs. old in August and we were told to come back in 6 months by the vet for a followup.

  3. Nancy on May 25, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Dear Dr. Dressler,

    It has been one month since our lab mix’s soft cell fibrosarcoma on his abdomen has been removed. The biopsy came back as intermediate stage but he was not put on chemo or rad. His lung x-rays (they did 2) came back clear, as did his blood tests. Just this week I ordered Halo Pet’s 5,000 mg oral vitamin C. I have not received it yet and after reading, I should have done a bit more research. Should I even give it to him when it arrives at all? The bottle I bought is 8 oz. and I believe it is in crystal (?) form. I’ll await your response.

    Thank you,

    • Dr. Demian Dressler on May 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      Dear Nancy,
      I am sorry to say there is likely little benefit of using this since blood levels are not adequate to reach anticancer effects. I would read the Guide for all you need to know about supplements.
      Dr D

  4. Jeanne Ladd on May 4, 2009 at 5:38 am

    My golden had lyme diease 3 times( even though we did the vaccine and did Frontline. She recently passed away from histiocytic sarcoma,her liver had lesions in it, could the lyme had weakened her immune system, and therefore the cancer grew, due to the lyme? She was given 1-2 mos. we had 1 month, We did try one treament of Lomustine, but her liver didn’t hold out long enough for another. We decided to let her go when she couldn’t get up due to her belly had fluid in it, and it was to much for her to get around. Could the reacurring lyme cause this cancer?? Jeanne

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