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

Supplements for Dogs with Cancer

Updated: October 18th, 2018

supplements-for-dog-cancerWe once heard Dr. Demian Dressler, veterinarian and author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, tell “Ask Dr. Dressler” webinar members something very interesting…

“Nature has already invented the wheel – it’s just our job to find it.”

Dr. Dressler credited Albert Einstein with the original insight. Dr. Einstein once said:

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”

What this means, Dr. Dressler explained, is that even though veterinarians typically use synthetic drugs that were created in a lab, nature still has much to offer us.

Over his decades of research and clinical experience, Dr. Dressler has seen many substances help many dogs.

Some of those substances are created in laboratories, bottled and sold as pharmaceutical drugs.

Other substances are found and easily absorbed when they’re in the diet.

And others are easily found in the supplements section of your local health food store or online in The Dog Cancer Shop.

When Dr. Dressler was developing his formula for Apocaps, the nutraceutical (a very potent supplement) he designed, he asked Dr. Cathy Johnson-Delaney to help him with the research. Dr. Johnson-Delaney is an expert in exotic animals and known internationally for her work. She has contributed to several veterinary textbooks, and also has a background as a pharmaceutical testing expert, which makes her a recognized expert on veterinary drugs and nutraceuticals. She actually lectures to other vets about the subject.

So when Dr. Johnson-Delaney reported she was “very pleased” with her experiences using Apocaps with animals in her clinic (see Chapter 12 for more details), Dr. Dressler asked her if she was surprised that Apocaps had such an effect.

Actually, she said, she wasn’t.

Dr. Johnson-Delaney pointed out that some natural substances are just as effective as pharmaceuticals, but they are not patentable, so they slip through the cracks and “don’t make the evening news.” Dr. Johnson-Delaney also said that some countries regulate natural substances and officially approve their uses for diseases because they are potent and viable therapeutics. Our own FDA only just recently began a process for regulating botanicals and lags behind other countries in this regard.

She also pointed out that nutraceuticals operate according to the laws of chemistry, just like pharmaceuticals do.

When you look at the substances from the chemistry viewpoint and study their actions in the body, she said, it quickly becomes obvious what is therapeutic – and what is not.

You should know that when Dr. Dressler first started researching dog cancer he did not expect to recommend as many supplements as he does.

It just wasn’t in his background. His training and education at Cornell Veterinary School, which is ranked number one year after year by U.S. News & World Report, did not prepare him for using natural supplements and substances in his work.

But as he looked at peer-reviewed literature, and he started to understand how these things work in the body, and more importantly, he started to use them with his own dogs in his own clinic, he changed his mind.

Supplements like Apocaps, which includes several nutraceuticals, like luteolin, curcumin, and apigenin, can be an important part of any dog cancer treatment.

In particular, Apocaps can usually be used in any dog cancer case, because it can be used as a standalone nutraceutical, or to support chemotherapy and radiation treatments. There are chapters dedicated to this and other nutraceuticals in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, but the thing to know now is that while most of us tend to think that antioxidants are very good for the health, it’s not so simple when it comes to cancer.

Instead, we often want to use pro-oxidant strategies for cancer, because they can help cancer cells become unstable and commit natural cell suicide, or undergo apoptosis. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are also pro-oxidants, although they can also produce many unwanted side effects.

[warning]As a pro-oxidant nutraceutical, Apocaps can usually be used along with chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which is why so many vets recommend it. It can also help on its own, as a palliative. Of course, you should ask your own vet about using it for your dog with your dog’s specific cancer.[/warning]

Like any other treatment covered in Full Spectrum cancer care, Apocaps may not be appropriate for every dog. Every dog, every cancer, and every case is different. Every technique or strategy will not “work” in every case.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a “cure” yet for most cancers – and so it’s important to note that we’re talking about supplements that can help and have helped hundreds of thousands of dogs – but we’re not making blanket recommendations for your dog. You have to do your own research, and you have to ask your vet – because supplements like these, which are covered in the book, are not just “nice.”

They’re doing something! And they interact with other medications, treatments, and health conditions.

So please, do your research and ask your vet about the following:

  • Apocaps
  • Artemisinin
  • Neoplasene
  • beta glucans
  • modified citrus pectin
  • krill/fish oil
  • and many of the others covered in the book

If your dog is already on supplements, make sure you look them up, too. If they’re not included in the sections about Dr. Dressler’s approach and what he’s found has helped dogs the most, it may be for a couple of reasons.

Appendix B: Excluded Supplements, starts on page 415, and it lists nearly fifty supplements that Dr. Dressler has looked at and decided not to include. That may be for one or more of several reasons:

  • The supplement might interfere with more important therapies. Many antioxidants are excluded from Dr. Dressler’s approach, because they actually can interfere with cancer treatment. Antioxidants can be very helpful for a healthy dog, but some may actually not be good for a sick dog.
  • Unconvincing evidence. Dr. Dressler is big on peer-reviewed literature. If he can’t find peer-reviewed papers, the anecdotal evidence on the supplement has to be extremely convincing, for Dr. Dressler to recommend it across the board.
  • Not effective when given by mouth. You’d be surprised at how many supplements would be fantastic if injected into tumors, but are totally ineffective when given by mouth.
  • Bioavailability issues. If a supplement gets broken down by the digestive system or the liver, before it can get to the bloodstream, Dr. Dressler doesn’t include it.
  • Questionable safety. Dr. Dressler can’t recommend supplements that don’t have demonstrated safety records.
  • Batch variability. This is something that many of us don’t realize is a big problem with supplements. Some supplements don’t have the same amount of active ingredients in each capsule, because they aren’t carefully formulated. Others contain herbs that are potent at one time of year, but not if harvested at another. Others may be cut with lots of fillers. Depending upon a lot of different factors, batch variability can at best make a supplement less effective, or at worst cause a danger to dogs.
  • Unsafe with common treatments. Some supplements can cause more serious problems when combined with other common medications or treatments.
  • Impractical dosing requirements. If a supplement requires mega-doses to be effective, it can be really hard to get a dog to take them.
  • Unreasonable pricing. Every supplement costs something, but a few – especially some with questionable helpfulness – are priced so high that Dr. Dressler excluded them.
  • Research not available in English. Many supplements from Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine, and aboriginal medical systems were excluded just because Dr. Dressler can’t really evaluate them, because the available research is not written in a language he understands. This does NOT mean that they are not used or useful – just that you would want to consult with a real expert in those fields for their use.

To wrap this up, keep in mind that just because supplements don’t come out of a pharmaceutical lab doesn’t mean they aren’t potent.

Supplements can be potent and helpful, not helpful at all, or even potent and harmful in certain circumstances.

And more of a good thing is not necessarily better. That’s why Dr. Dressler includes general dosing guidelines for each supplement he recommends. Check with your veterinarian to see what the doses should be for your dog, of course.

We’re not going to promise you that every one of the thousands of supplements out there is helpful for cancer, or is covered in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, but we will promise you that the supplements that Dr. Dressler has found to be most helpful, least harmful, and most compatible with other common sense cancer treatments are included.

Including supplements in your dog’s cancer treatment plan can be a little uncomfortable if your vet is not “into” supplements. However, it’s really important to consider their use in treating your dog cancer.

You’ll find plenty of good research, including the scientific papers Dr. Dressler uses to rationalize his choices, in the book. You’ll also get plenty of information about how to talk to your vet like the Pack Leader you are.

After changing your dog’s diet, there is nothing more satisfying than giving natural supplements that can help your dog. It’s something you can do, yourself, every day, and feel good about contributing to your dog’s health care. For example, those of us who have seen what Apocaps can do now give our dogs EverPup, the other supplement Dr. Dressler designed. EverPup is for healthy dogs. It’s got low-doses of many of the same ingredients in Apocaps, plus other herbs and minerals that help our healthy dogs stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. And our dogs go crazy for the taste (it’s a powder, we just add it to their food).

Look, you don’t have to go crazy and give everything under the sun to your dog with cancer. Most dog owners are happy with the results from just two or three, carefully chosen supplements. That’s especially true when supplements are combined with the other steps in Full Spectrum care: Conventional Treatments, Diet, and Brain Chemistry Modification.

The best place to look for supplement information really is The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.

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Best Wishes & Doggy Kisses from Our Homes to Yours,

Dog Cancer Vet Team

(The Team of Dog Lovers Who Understand What It Means to Have a Dog with Cancer)

There is a whole team of dog lovers behind Dog Cancer Vet and DogCancerBlog.com, and we’re here to help, because we understand what it’s like to deal with dog cancer. We work for Maui Media, the book publisher which includes paperback and digital copies of the best-selling animal health book Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. This must-read book is available everywhere books are sold in paperback, and digital formats (iPad, Kindle, Nook). It is authored by our veterinarian bloggers Dr. Demian Dressler, and Dr. Susan Ettinger, DVM, ACVIM (Oncology).

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

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  1. inginiumsolution on September 26, 2018 at 3:38 am

    Thank you so much flr replying.
    We started Palladia 10 days ago. He is tolerating it. No vomit, no diarrhea.

    My heart keep telling me to give Apocap a chance, but if you say that Apocap and Life gold have the same ingredients… Should i stop Life Gold and just give him Apocaps? … Should i start Apocap with just 1 pill and see his reaction and after a few day try to up the dosage?

    What other supplements do you recommend combined with Apocaps?

  2. inginiumsolution on September 16, 2018 at 4:14 am

    Hi there!

    Im writing this out of desperation and confusion. My dog was diagnosed with thyroid cancer (big tumor on the neck) a couple of weeks ago. He is 18yrs old. He is schedule to start Palladia tomorrow, but im very afraid. 2 weeks ago i started a list of supplements and one of them was Apocaps. I stopped giving him apocap because i was afraid he was getting worse. The tfuth is that im not sure if that was a good idea or if i shouldve waited a bit with apocaps. He takes a few medications for the heart and azodyl for his kidneys. The supplement i started are these: k9 innmunity plus, pet alive c caps, life gold, coenzyme q10, salmon oil, full spectrum cbd, apocaps (couple of days only)

    Do you think i should keep trying with the apocaps at his age? What are the most common side effects? Can i continue these other supplements while giving him Palladia? Shoukd i start him on the Palladia?

    I will really appreciate any type of input and help. Im desperate at this point and i have nowhere else to go.

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on September 16, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Hello, and well done on doing so much research to help your dog. We can’t offer medical advice, of course, but we will gently point out that while all of those supplements might be supportive depending upon your dog’s case, there is nothing we can give our loved dogs that will definitely, overnight “work” to stop cancer’s progression. We usually find cancer very late in the game to begin with: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/signs-of-dog-cancer-and-decompensation/. It’s best to get your supplement list overseen by your veterinarian — for example, “life gold” has many of the same ingredients as Apocaps, and you don’t want to duplicate supplements in general. In general, Apocaps and other supplements Dr. D recommends on your list are super-safe for dogs of all ages, with digestive upset being the only common adverse effect (and that’s in less than 5% of dogs, totally standard for any new supplement, medication, or food). You can see more in the manufacturer’s help center: https://help.functionalnutriments.com/. It can generally be used alongside all the other things you mention, but ALL decisions about what medications and supplements to use should really be made in consult with your veterinarian. They will be able to look at everything and see what is likely to help and what might be less useful in your dog’s specific case. Warm wishes to you and your pup and good luck tomorrow.

  3. Cyndi Edwards on December 14, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    We just started our 10 year old golden doodle on cbd oil by releaf. He was recently diagnosed with 3 mast cell tumors, we don’t know what grade they are yet. On Friday he looked like he was ready to give up. He was vomiting and had diarrhea. His tumors were itchy and bleeding. He could barely move. We started the oil the next day and by Wednesday the tumors had shrunk, he was eating again and no more vomiting or diarrhea. It has brought our boy back. I don’t know the prognosis yet, there may be surgery coming, but I totally believe pet releaf hemp oil 300 saved his life. No matter what treatment is recommended, we will continue with this oil. We would do anything to keep our big boy alive and comfortable.

  4. Killary Obama Hussein on December 31, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TMC) can cure cancer in dogs. I have a vet near me who everybody goes too for cancer he has cured two dogs I know of. Yes these dogs were confirmed with tests to have cancer one of them was at end stage. Also I used Pau d’arco tea on my dog and he has rebounded beautifully.

  5. Susan Kazara Harper on March 15, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Hi April,
    Well done for arming yourself so well to help your pup (they’re all pups to me!). Regarding the products, when Dr Dressler lists products he recommends it’s because based on his studies he’s found what, in his opinion, are the best products when considering the ingredients, the source of ingredients, their purity etc. Equally, cost is a huge factor in this fight as I know. I’ve had two dogs with cancer and it ain’t cheap. The very fact that you’re researching and doing your best means that you’re giving your dog the best possible chances. So giving digestive enzymes to help… yes they’re going to help even if they are a different brand. Rest easy in this. Going forward, Functional Nutriments who manufacture Apocaps also have a bulk pricing option for those of us with larger dogs. Apocaps are amazing and both my dogs were on them. It all adds up especially with bigger dogs. So you can call customer service at Functional Nutriments and get the current information on them. Keep the good nutriiton going and joyful, playful days for that big beauty. All the best, and hugs to you both.

  6. April on March 1, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I have purchased and read the ebook. I also have ordered the Apocaps and K( Immunity. I have a question regarding a few of the supplements that were mentioned. I have a 75 pound lab, so to help with costs, I have ordered products that I believe to be similar to ones recommended. Are these comparable and okay to use? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    I have ordered these digestive enzymes as opposed to Dr. Goodpet:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IEEKB9Y/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    I have purchased this salmon oil:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002ABR6E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Thanks,

    April