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

What I Do in my Veterinary Hospital

Updated: December 18th, 2018

Some have wondered what does this guy do, this Dr Dressler? Why does he do this blog anyway?

Well, there is a shorter version of the long truth. Since this is a blog post, and I’m told mine are too long anyway, I’ll give you the short version.

I spend many hours working as a full-time vet and surgeon in my hospital, where I take care of dogs, cats, bunnies, birds, rats, monkeys, guinea pigs, and so on. From fractures to dermatology, diabetes to glaucoma, we see it all. Of course, I see a quite a number of dogs afflicted with cancer.

Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more helpful information and tools

Because of the work that I do, other vets have been sending over special needs cancer patients. I spend a lot of time with these patients.

One of the things I focus on is using various “supplement” programs with these patients. I alternate between different regimens to get a clinical impression of what works and what doesn’t. I am also concerned with safety, and pay very close attention to any side effects these dogs might experience.

I try different herbs, compounds, and formulations. I use different agents to see if we can get better absorption of this or that when taken by mouth.

I get feedback from the dogs lovers on energy, appetite, mood, and any adverse effects they may note. I do blood testing to make sure the internal organs are okay during treatment. I take measurements of tumors and take a lot of pictures and videos to see trends.

Lastly, I need to make sure that anything we are doing does not cause a hardship to the dog lover or the dog. I do not want to subtract from life quality during treatment.

Recently I have had interest from some other veterinarians who would like to join me in getting new ways of dealing with cancer in dogs. This is such a compliment and a real blessing. I have a couple of specialists involved now and we are all quite excited.

My motivation has been that I was just tired of offering options to dog lovers with junky statistics and sometimes some heavy side effects. Conventional care includes chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. I wanted to try to build upon conventional care, to see if we could add “outside the box” therapies that could increase odds.

I also realized there was no way I could give people the info they needed in the span of a 30 minute consult, which bothered my conscience.

Well, I went over the recommended word count again. Sorry!


Dr Dressler


Leave a Comment

  1. Maria Freeden on June 30, 2011 at 9:53 am

    On Nov. 23, 2010, you responded to my email regarding our 11-1/2 GSD who was diagnosed with a splenic mass. You expressed a concern with our current vet’s recommendation of taking the dog home, & waiting for her to die. We opted to remove the mass & have the surrounding area explored. Unfortunately, it was cancer, & it had spread to surrounding organs. Our dog got through the surgery, but, did not recover, due to clotting issues. We euthanized her before her organs began to shut down. My family & I were there, & all held her as she passed. I wanted to thank you for your guidance & compassion. You answered my plea for help, & in the end, I at least felt as if I did all I could for my dog.

    • DemianDressler on July 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Dear Maria,
      yes, looking back, you can say you did it right by doing all you could. All my best, and with sympathy

  2. Maria Freeden on November 18, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Dr. Dressler,
    Our 11-1/2 year old female German Shepard was diagnosed on 11/12/10 with a hemangiosarcoma on the spleen. It is the size of a grapefruit, & we were told not to put the dog through surgery & to take her home until it bursts, or put her down on the spot. The vet gave the dogs only days to live.We took the dog home, & are enjoying whatever time she has left. It has been 6 days, & we are wondering if there’s anything else we can do to before it’s too late?

    • DemianDressler on November 23, 2010 at 6:20 pm

      Dear Maria,
      so hard to hear this kind of news. Sorry.
      What about diet? Have you read the Guide? There is a whole lot in there, and it is easy reading, a whole book practically that answers your question much better than I can do here.
      The second thing that concerns me is that you are waiting for a life threatening crisis to happen, and it could be in the middle of the night. This sounds a bit off to me personally. Have you considered a second opinion? There are some masses that are not cancers in the spleen you know, like splenic hematomas, that can be grapefruit size.
      I would read the book and get a second opinion to be on the safe side. Just my two cents.

  3. Charles Easterday on January 29, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    I read your book and absolutely loved it. My ten year old labrador retriever Venus has adenacarcinoma. We went to MedVet in Columbus, OH today. The cancer is inside near the entry to her rectum. Surgery is not an option since it could make her incontinent. There are three options for radiation (Pallative, Intermediate, or Full course). An ultrasound and xrays do not show cancer spread. Venus’s only sympton is she is straining to poop. What is your opinion on going the radiation route or completely using other remedies like Luteolin. Before reading the book, I had already put her on fish oil, vitamin E, milk thistle, and NuVet Plus vitamin. In addition, I selected Innova EVO as her food, since she had been on Eukanuba and then Innova Large Breed Senior. Any advice you can give would be great. Is there any chance that you could consult with her existing Vet Dr. Stacy Lozanoff, who is excellent. Thanks for your time!!!

    • Dr. Dressler on January 31, 2010 at 3:07 pm

      Dear Charles,
      I think the most important thing for you is to go back to the treatment plan analysis portion of the book. You need to get the following information:
      from the oncologist: what (in terms of results) do the three radiation options give your individual dog? How much life expectancy added? Odds of side effects (percentages)?
      Second: you need to define what type of person you are. What is your risk tolerance? Benefits of radiation are in proportion to risk of side effects. More benefit, more risk. Is your priority life expectancy or life quality (including time undergoing treatment)? Take some time to very carefully weigh the pros and cons. Cancer medicine is not black and white thus you need to give yourself permission to be the boss using the data you collect about the procedure and about who you are.
      It sounds like you are choosing between radiation and the other options. Pro oxidant levels of luteolin (in the Guide and in upcoming Apocaps), from a mechanistic standpoint, will interfere with radiation. Why not use the Full Spectrum approach (both conventional and alternative techniques)? The anti oxidants you are using (milk thistle, vitamins, and some of the fish oil formulations if they have a lot of antioxidant) may theoretically interfere with radiation, especially if you are using higher doses, so you may want to hold off on those unless your dog suffers radiation-induced side effects. A low (maintenance) dose multivitamin is not likely going to interfere with the radiation, nor are low doses of the other items.
      Hope this helps,
      Dr D

  4. Lynne on July 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    Dr D.
    We are considering starting our Cairn, who was recently diagnosed with lymphoma, on neoplasene. Have you had experience with this product on this cancer? Its mentioned on this site but not in your book. Your book has been a blessing as well as this site and we appreciate your time, support and love for dogs. Any news on a cancer vaccine? Thank you! Lynne

  5. Dr Dressler on February 11, 2009 at 1:06 pm

    although I cannot give advice for individual dogs, KBr is a common choice for seizure control these days. It takes longer to kick in than pheno once you start (technically up to 8 weeks or so, sometimes sooner), so you need to ascertain your motivation for the change if the seizures are being well controlled. It has different side effects compared to phenobarb and may be a gentler choice. You may run a risk of loss of seizure contrl during the shift. All of this should be discussed with your vet/oncologist.
    The e-book has a lot more info for you- The Dog Cancer Survival Guide-

  6. Karen on February 10, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    Dear Dr. Dressler,
    What is your feeling toward the use of potassium bromide in lieu of phenobarbitol for the treatment of seizures/brain tumor. My 10 1/2 yr golden was diagnosed on Sept. 4, 08 with a brain tumor in the left frontal lobe. He is on Prednisone 10mg, one daily, every other day and 75 mg of phenobarb every 12 hours. I am also giving him Pycnogenol, Vit C, Astragulus, Selenium, Green Tea, Omegas 3 and 9, CoQ10, Kelp, Slippery Elm, Yucca, Dandelion Root, Tumeric, Alphalfa, Yellow Doc, Burdock, Triple Mushroom Complex, along with Milk Thistle and Sam-e, and Chlor-oxygen. I’m sure I forgot something! His energy level is great and I am more than happy to say he has not had a seizure since his original 3 grand mals on August 30, 08. He was given 3-6 months to live by the neurologist and has just completed 5 months. I know it’s quality, not quantity, but he is still full of life and we take it day by day. Is there anything else you would add to this boy’s intake. He is also on Innnova Evo dog food.
    Thank you so much,
    Karen Bender

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