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

Supplements for Dogs with Cancer

Updated: September 10th, 2021


There are dozens of supplements that are supposed to help with cancer. How do you know which ones are worth using with your own dog?

We 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.

“My personal bible for dog cancer — used it three times now 🙁 but it helped each time.” – Sally M.

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, may 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.

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 this and any other supplement for your specific dog with your dog’s specific cancer.

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:

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.

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)

Leave a Comment

  1. Constance Caron on April 27, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Will you just leave me a message in my email?

  2. Constance Caron on April 27, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I forgot to leave a comment. I am giving my dog who has bone cancer in her front paw. I give her CBD oil and turmeric. The CBD OIL really helps het. Then I wad going today to buy the turmeric powder to sprinkle on her food

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on April 29, 2019 at 9:08 am

      Hey Constance,

      Thanks for writing. Dr. D recently wrote a really fascinating and informative article on CBD oil and Dog Cancer, you should really check it out.

      You should also consult with your vet and see if they would recommend using Turmeric/ Curcumin alongside your girl’s current treatment plan. Each dog and their health situation is unique, so what may be beneficial for one dog may not be for another 🙂

  3. Constance Caron on April 27, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    A lot of valuable information.

  4. Lori Stoneking on January 14, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Is CBD oil safe to give with the supplements that you recommend in your book, including the cimetidine that you recommend? I bought the book but have seen no referral to CBD oil in it. Baxter, my 6 yo yorkie/maltese mix had surgery for removal of an anal gland tumor and was diagnosed with anal gland apocrine adenocarcinoma. I have been trying my best to follow the diet in your book……but I have so many questions and there are so many supplements that I’m overwhelmed…are there any specific supplements for this type of cancer? Clean margins were obtained when the tumor was removed, however, the sonogram that was done prior to surgery revealed one slightly enlarged lymph node in his abdomen which was not removed because the surgery was already so extensive they didn’t want to open his stomach up as well. You said to simmer the meat….is cooking it on low in a crock pot acceptable? Regular or low fat cottage cheese? Turkey necks, cooked and run through the food processor bones and all? How long should they be cooked? I’m really not a stupid person….just totally devastated and overwhelmed right now. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

    • Molly Jacobson on January 17, 2019 at 11:46 am

      Hi Lori! Thanks for writing, and I totally understand where you are. We’ve all dealt with dog cancer here, and we know exactly how overwhelming it all is, and how devastated you feel. Add to that having to learn so much information in what seems like an impossibly short period of time and it just doesn’t seem like it will work, right? You aren’t stupid, and we would not think you are!

      So first, do what Dr. D recommends in the first couple chapters, and BREATHE. 🙂 Three deep breaths taken regularly throughout the day will help to stave off some of that anxiety and/or change it so it doesn’t feel so bad. It’s unbelievably easy to hold your breath without even realizing it — it’s a normal reaction to stress. Unfortunately, it makes anxiety and panic even worse! So, that’s why Dr. D recommends taking three deep breaths regularly, to tone that anxiety down. I’m going to try to answer all of your questions, but keep in mind that I’m not a veterinarian, just the book editor, lol, so nothing that I’m saying is veterinary advice, just general information you should use to make your decisions with your vet’s guidance.
      1. CBD oil is not mentioned in the book because it’s technically still very dangerous for veterinarians to even talk about it with their clients, and there is a lot to know. Dr. D is actually writing an article about it as I type this, and it will be posted soon, so I’ll make sure it’s linked to here. But the bottom line is that CBD oil does not theoretically interfere with any of the supplements he discusses in the book, so if you and your vet think it’s a good idea to try it, you don’t need to adjust anything generally. But remember, all dogs are different, so this is JUST general information, and your vet should really be guiding you in all of this.
      2. The supplements that Dr. D recommends in the book are useful for ALL types of cancer, including your boy’s. This is because instead of looking for “one solution to one cancer,” Dr. D focuses on tackling the problems that ALL cancers have. The supplements in chapter 2 address a lack of normal apoptosis, which all cancers have. The supplements in chapter 3 address metastasis and boost the immune system, a problem all cancer types have. The supplements in chapter four address the lack of omega 3’s and vitamins/minerals in the typical diet, and all dogs with cancer need a really vibrant diet. If you focus on these, you will be doing a LOT to support your dog. There are not specific supplements that are good only for one type of cancer or another in general but you can rest assured that addressing these problems that cancer causes will help your pup.
      3. Cooking meat low in a crock pot is fine. The idea is to use low cooking temperatures, under 300 degrees Farenheit, no matter the method you use. The low setting on a crock pot will certainly be fine.
      4. In general Dr. D is recommending low fat cottage cheese especially if you use those therapeutic doses of krill/fish oil in chapter 14, which will provide good levels of fat in the diet.
      5. Turkey or chicken necks on a long-slow simmer will be exceptionally tender, and sometimes I can manage to just mash them with a fork, although a blender is fine. It takes anywhere from an hour to two hours for me on a barely simmer, but it will just depend upon how big your necks are. Most of the neck is cartilage, not bone, and the idea is to give that to your dog. So if you mash or process and there are bony pieces, just take those out before giving. There is a lot of nutrition in the water/broth left over, so if you like, you can save that and add to your dog’s food for flavor and nutrition.

      I hope that helps! Molly

      • Lori Stoneking on January 19, 2019 at 4:30 am

        Thank you Molly…I appreciate your help and info! It helped a lot! I just have a couple more questions that have come up since I started preparing the diet for Baxter…I’m sorry so many! If I’m using fish oil, I probably shouldn’t use coconut oil as well as one of the healthy options I can add before serving, should I or vice versus? I’m still not sure how long to cook the turkey necks and am scared that he will get bone! But would rather use those than calcium tablets. I assumed that the weight of the meat, veggies recommended is the pre-cooked weight? Last, can I make a large batch and freeze it so I’m not cooking as often? I know, 3 deep breaths! Thanks again for your help!

        • Molly Jacobson on January 19, 2019 at 6:12 pm

          Dr. Dressler lists a TB of coconut oil as a “healthy optional addition” so yes, you can use it at the same time. He assumes you will be doing the therapeutic doses of oils outlined in chapter 14. The turkey/chicken necks can take anywhere from half an hour to two hours to get tender enough to mash with a fork or blend in a food processor — it depends upon how long you simmer them. And yes, the weight is pre-cooked. And yes, please DO make a large batch and freeze in portions so it’s really easy to do this. The base mixture freezes for up to one month!

  5. 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?

  6. 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: 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: 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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:

    I have purchased this salmon oil:



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