Ginger to help dogs with cancer - Dog Cancer Blog

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

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Ginger to help dogs with cancer

Okay, got a great one for you today.  It’s cheap, easy and safe, and it smells good too: ginger.

Ever wonder why the rate of cancer used to be so low in Asia (before introduction of the western diet where the top vegetables consumed are french fries and ketchup…)?  Yep, diet is the likely answer.  We’ll touch on this topic more in future posts, but for now, let’s look at ginger.

Sound too easy, too good to be real? It’s not.  Ginger has some decent anticancer effects, and some major other benefits relevant to dogs tumors.

First the anticancer effects, which are pretty fair.  Ginger slowed the rate of breast cancer growth in mice, and kills lymphosarcoma cells in a test tube.  Ginger has been shown to decrease tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is a chemical signal in dogs’ bodies that stimulate cancer cell growth. It also decreases inflammation.  Inflammation is a central process in cancer development. This aromatic tuber has immune stimulating ability as well, a plus since dogs with cancer usually are immune suppressed. Chemo, radiation and surgery also weaken immunity. These are all nice effects, good stuff.

But, the real winner with ginger is that it decreases nausea.  Decreased appetite caused by nausea is really common in dogs with cancer.  Feeling sick to the stomach can be caused by the cancer itself, or by chemo, surgery or radiation.  Ginger has been shown to decrease vomiting as much as the most popular injection to fight nausea on vets’ shelves, metoclopramide. There is also published literature showing it fights vomiting caused by cisplatin, a common chemo drug, in dogs.

Not too shabby for an item sitting in the veggie section of the grocery store!

Dose: Remove the skin of the root with a knife.  The inside will be yellow and smell quite pungent.  Using a heavy, sharp chopping knife, finely mince the yellow portion of the root.  Give roughly 1/2 teaspoon for dogs under 35 lbs and 3/4 teaspoon for dogs 36 lbs and over. Give 1/4 teaspoon for miniature breeds. Ideally it is to be given three times a day. Mix in food.  Ginger can also be found in extracts and powders, but I like the raw stuff.

When to avoid ginger:

Don’t use ginger within 10 days of surgery, as it may have mild blood thinning effect. Avoid it if your dog is on aspirin, and discuss with your vet if your dog is on anti inflammatory medication like Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, Etogesic, and others. Ginger may have blood sugar lowering effects and reduce the insulin requirement, so talk it over with your vet BEFORE starting, or simply avoid ginger if your dog is on insulin. Avoid using ginger in dogs with gallstones (rare) or ulcers.  And finally, don’t use if your dog is on heart or blood pressure meds, as it may lower blood pressure slightly by itself.

Like any supplement, ginger can occasionally cause digestive upset in some dogs.

Hope it helps!!!!

Best to all,

Dr Dressler


Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.

  • Abbey December 23, 2008, 5:06 pm

    So if my dog has a pancreatic tumor (cancer of the pancreas) which secretes an insulin like substance causing her blood sugar to drop, she should not have ginger. Just confirming b/c this sounds like the one situation where a dog with a cancer diagnosis should not ingest ginger.

  • Dr. Dressler December 24, 2008, 7:12 pm

    Abbey, yes:
    the possible blood lowering effect of ginger would make me avoid it in the case of either insulinoma or other factors that could also cause low blood sugar. Thanks for sharing this information!

  • Debbie December 28, 2008, 12:52 pm

    My dog’s lungs are filled with tumors my vet says she doesn’t have much time left. I heard Red Clover is good for dog’s with cancer. What do you know about this? Can this be given safely with prednisone?

  • Inez June 27, 2009, 12:29 pm

    My 11 yr. old golden retriver (love of my life) has been diagnoised with HSA. She recently had surgery to have her spleen removed. I am currently feeding her a high protein – low carb diet. I am including these supplements to her meal…c (1000 2x daily) A – E -Ginseng (500mg)- Alfalfa – alpha Lipoic Acid – echinacea extract and pet tabs. Are these supplements safe for her.

    Thank you.

    • Dr. Dressler June 28, 2009, 8:44 am

      I will address this question in this week’s webinar,
      Thank you!
      Dr D

      • Dr. Dressler June 28, 2009, 9:16 am

        FYI if you can’t make the webinar time, no worry, you can listen later as it is recorded,

  • John March 1, 2010, 8:46 am

    My dog has been fighting Lymphoma for 3 months. she had heavy chemo the first 5 weeks at $400 a shot. We have maxed out our credit cards and don’t know what else to do. The vet gave us some low dose chemo pills, and predizone that she takes every other day, Her lymph nodes are still growing. I read your column on ginger and started it today. Is there any thing else that we can do to reduce the swelling? Thank you

  • Christel Johnson April 6, 2010, 6:14 pm

    I am currently treating my dogs for heartworm using Hulda Clark’s detox/parasite removal regimen. I wonder if you are familiar with her teachings. What I have read so far has left me mindboggled. But it all makes sense. A friend of mine has an old (over 16 human years) golden girl named Sassy. When I first met them a few months ago, she told me about a tumor on one of her paws she has been battling with for more than a year. After a lot of research I am convinced she has bonecancer. I started having my friend wrap Sassy’s the paw in a clay poultice, changing it every day (now twice a day). The tumor eventually went down and the rosetta shaped chambers fell off, leaving nice clean tissue. She stopped with the clay and soon a sore reappeared. I scolded her for stopping and allowing Sassy to lick on it constantly. I am pretty sure the cancer is advanced, because now the poultices are forever drawing puss from other regions around where the original tumor was. She’s keeping it wrapped now and I also had her to start the same regimen as I am doing with my dogs, since Hulda Clark’s research has brought her to the conclusion that cancer is connected to parasites (among other things). This is just in a nutshell. I wonder if you are familiar with her research and what you think about it. I am using parsley water, black walnut hull, woodworm, and cloves. I also added Hawthorm berry, burdock, pau d’arco, They love to nibble on the cleaver growing wild around my yard, sometimes I pick dandelion and add it to their meals (food processed of course), which consists of carrots, some green leaf veggie (kale, greens), sometimes legumes, sometimes soy bean sprouts, celery, squash, red or green cabagge, fresh garlic or powder, cooked brown rice or sweet potatoes, and some meat (cut up or ground). I switch around so they get a little variety. After that they get a chicken leg quarter. Occasionally they also get either chicken or turkey necks, pig feet, or a soup bone. Occasionally I add chicken or beef liver or kidney, beef heart, chicken heart or gizzards. My diogs range from 60-80 lbs. I have also recently read that turmeric is supposed to cause tumors (of any kind) to shrink and go away. I gave some to my friend for Sassy and told her to start giving it to her right away. Sorry this got a bit lengthy, but your input would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dr. Dressler April 12, 2010, 1:00 am

      Dear Christel,
      yes, I am familiar with her. Some of her claims have some merit.
      Good luck,
      Dr D

  • sheila July 9, 2010, 7:27 am

    I have a handsome 10 year old lab mix name Cisco. I notice he has a fatty pouch on his right side. What homemade remedy can I put on it to reduce it. I have been giving him tumeric in this food. I was wondering about putting the castor oil on it. Thanks so much

  • Deeva September 19, 2010, 10:48 am

    If using ground ginger root in a capsule what dosage should be used, ie how many milligrams? This is for my mom’s dog. My mom is in her 80’s so we’d like to keep things as easy for her as possible — capsules versus chopping raw ginger. Thank you.

  • kathy madigan October 19, 2010, 2:03 am

    My 10 year old lab was rushed to hospital and had surgery last night for cancer. She had her spline removed and a 2cm piece off of her liver. There are more spots on her liver. I ordered the book to read before she comes home tomorrow to try to help her in any way I can. She will be getting chemo I guess… is that best to help her or will it cause more pain? She is my life next to my 3 kids and husband. She is the only person in my life who has given back to me when everyone else took. Please let me know what I can do to give back to her for all she has done for me and my family. Kathy

  • Carolyn July 21, 2011, 12:39 pm

    Dr. Dressler,

    Thank you so much for publishing this excellent blog post! I was in the middle of writing a blog post about my personal experience in the usage of ginger for various canine ailments and I wanted to find some expert advice to back my personal, yet unprofessional, experience. I was so happy to find this article! Since I have mentioned you in the post, as a courtesy, I am sending you a link to my blog post. (editor note: unfortunately the link provided no longer works, so has been deleted)

  • Lene Olshove October 8, 2011, 6:09 pm

    I would like to know more about lymphoma cancer, as my St Poodel has just
    been diagnoised w/ cancer, she has been on med, for one week, Prednisone 20mg 2 time a day and Doxycycline 100mg 2 time a day. she has started to
    eat again. As I take ginger I thought it may be good for Natasha, but your report
    said no ginger w/ med.
    Thank you Lene

    10-8-2011 at 9:50 pm

    • Demian Dressler October 12, 2011, 8:53 pm

      Dear Lene,
      do you have a specific question about lympho? The Guide has a whole chapter on this cancer, so of course that would be a good option.
      You should have no problem giving ginger with these meds.
      I hope this helps

  • Lene Olshove October 8, 2011, 6:35 pm

    DR Dressler
    Just open your website for the first time, it was wery informative,

  • constantin December 4, 2011, 6:28 pm

    Dear Doctor Dressler,
    The wonderful blog you have gave me a little bit of courage at a time of its greatest challenge. After x-rays showing the left upper part of my dog’s pelvis simply disappeared when I brought him to the vet for his lameness, limping, and tremor following a jump over a ditch that collapsed him in great yelp, the diagnosis was osteosarcoma with days to live. Not having the financial means for a follow up with cat scans to identify a tumor in hospital and also knowing that at his almost 10 year old age this rottweiler would not make it with the tests, I combined the prescribed by the vet tramadol and amoxicillin with budwig protocol, turmeric spread over his food (always natural meat and bone, both raw and soup), recovazol, vitamin D but now I decide to add the topical treatment with ginger as well. As I read over the internet that the ginger in topical compress is a very dangerous game to play over a tumor (I still do not know for sure if there is one or he fractured very severely his pelvis) PLEASE CLARIFY FOR ME:
    If applied over the place of the injury/tumor only for 3 minutes before applying a taro potatoe plaster is the ginger compress still dangerous and … if taro potatoes plaster has any power over the injury/tumor WITHOUT the ginger compress preceding it. Thank you so much.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler December 10, 2011, 6:05 pm

      Dear Constantin
      I have not used taro or potato compresses for dog cancer. I doubt the topical ginger would do harm one way or another to be honest, just be sure to have your vet supervising the treatment so there is no skin irritation.
      You may want to learn a bit more about diet and supplements too in the Guide, which has quite a lot on supplements and nutrition for this type of thing. I’d be thinking about apoptogens (this one has gingerols in it), neoplasene, immune support, anti metastatics, etc.
      Dr D

  • Lauren June 30, 2012, 12:22 pm

    Dear Doctor Dressler,
    I have started my Airedale, Ursa on cooked food as suggested by your book and my veterinary oncologist (she was on raw). She has multiple myeloma, pretty rare for dogs. I am a psychiatrist and do appreciate the mindfulnes and hope in your guide. So I watch her eat her new food with great satisfaction.
    My Questions:

    1. Your list of veggies is short, I do understand not giving high carb things like peas, carrots, root veggies; what about celery, asparagus, tomato?

    2. For people who want to go the extra mile, is acidophilus fermentation a good thing?

    3.Are there vegetables you would not feed to dogs, or dogs with cancer? I understand that vegetable is a term that is not accurate. Can you elaborate?


    • Dr. Demian Dressler July 10, 2012, 10:08 pm

      Dear Lauren
      Hope this helps:
      1. Yes to those veggies but watch out for the low calories creating weight loss. Also lots of acid in tomato so use sparingly for most dogs..
      2. If you would like to go the extra mile, I have no problem with fermentation but again I do worry a bit about the acid. I prefer puree of low temp cooked veggies with digestive enzymes..
      3. onions, (grapes/raisins), possibly avocado, starchy or sugary ones (artichoke hearts, beets, etc and of course the others in the Guide…hard to give a list of all the veggies in the world though…but those are the biggies…

  • John Bulmer December 22, 2012, 10:45 am

    Dr. Dressler, thank you for this information.

    Researched the potential benefits associated with ginger for humans, so it was good to find your blog that this may be effective for dogs as well.

    On 21 December 2012 my faithful companion was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which has spread to the lungs. The tumors in the prostrate have enlarged it sufficiently to pressure the bowels / colon and the bladder / urethra, which means it is almost impossible for my boy to pee or poop. The cancer may be the evil killer, but the inability to pee / poop is the biggest discomfort so far.

    My only objective at this point is to prevent discomfort for my boy. Have you read or been able to determine how long it takes for the ginger to reduce the inflamation?

    I can not get him in for radiation treatment for 2 – 3 weeks and would not want him to suffer during this period.


    John B

  • Byron December 27, 2012, 7:03 pm

    Can ginger help destroy prostate cancer in my dog?

    • Dr. Demian Dressler January 2, 2013, 11:50 am

      Byrong, the short answer is no, ginger root does not “destroy” prostate cancer. High concentrations of gingerols may help but I cannot say they cure cancer. So we think of using as many tools that may help, and use them all together. You are dealing with a forest fire in prostate cancer that a squirt gun is not enough for, if you get my drift.
      Perhaps this post will help:
      Dr D

  • yhet February 23, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Hi, i have my japanese spitz mix chihuahua aged 1& 1/2 years. She was diagnose with gardiasis and some other bacteria in her intestine. The effect of it on her is that she vomits every foods she eats, loss of appetite and having bloodand liquid ize poops with those yellowish part on it. The vet prescribe my pet to take antibiotics in two kinds. But i still dont have it now. Doc. Can i have something that i can use any home remedies for my pet, in order for her to get back her loss appetite and be treated. Your answer and suggestions may help us alot. Thanks ^_^

  • Betty March 20, 2013, 3:50 pm

    Hi. I have an 11yr. old miniature fox terrier named Layla. I found three small tumors or cysts on her stomach and breast area around the first of November .Tests showed she has one between her liver and pancreas, and because of an irregular heartbeat and seizure problems the vet won’t do a biopsy,so it’s really unclear if it’s cancerous I started a regimen of Dr. Budwigs cottage cheese and flax oil diet twice daily as the vet said that these small tumors can become cancerous if left unchecked. She gets minimal amounts as she also gets pancreatitus quite often,and I give she cayenne pepper to regulate her heart.(her heart was stopping occasionally before the use of cayenne) she no longer passes out. I give her minimal amounts of ginger for any nausea.She gets about a teaspoon of crushed cucumber for liver and pancreas support twice daily and a drop of dandelion extract every other day for the liver.I read the message from the lady who’s pet had pancreatic cancer and she needs to know that the liver needs treatment right along with the pancreas. I have tried several other herbs but because of the seizures there are some she can’t take and I give minimal in the ones she can so as not to cause a problem there. Now after this long commentary of her life my question to you is, since she was basically sent home to die with all the antibiotics and pain killers I ask for, do you think I’m doing more harm than good? My vet says to keep up what I doing as long as she’s tolerating the herbs. Thanks for listening.

    • Dr. Demian Dressler March 26, 2013, 4:39 pm

      Dear Betty,
      it does not sound to be that you are doing more harm than good.
      I’d add some milk thistle or Denamarin, some Apocaps, some immune support like ImYunity or K-9 Immunity or active hexose correlated compound too (but check with your vet first)
      Have you read the Guide? Might help. Start everything slow, and introduce each after 5-7 days to be sure the prior one is tolerated without pancreatitis flare ups….
      Dr D

  • m March 7, 2015, 11:30 am

    metacam works well here for swelling. blessings to you and yours.

  • Nataway March 7, 2015, 1:38 pm

    I am dealing with a rare cancer in my basset hound, matrical carcinoma. Our vet & oncologist know nothing of it nor how to treat it. She has had 3 surgeries to remove the mass amount of tumors that have grown out of control. Them being all over her body.
    The oncologist tried to push chemo but I am not really for that at this time.
    I have elected to do a more holistic approach, using coconut oil, turmeric, & cannabis oil.
    It seemed to help until this last surgery, well she was ok, then caught some form of infection that the vet wants to pass off as a reaction to rimadyl.
    I have been using anti nausea meds because she wouldn’t stop throwing up, she now won’t eat & barely drinking water.
    I am wondering if the ginger would help, & how much, it will have to be in a liquid form for now, also with her having surgery on February 13 would she be ok on it? I have read not yo administer before or shortly after a surgery, what are your opinions for this
    Thank you in advance I am desperate to help her get well & have the best quality of life

  • Susan Kazara Harper March 15, 2015, 3:14 pm

    Hello NataLee,
    Very sorry to hear about your fight, and we all know what it’s like to battle for our lovely dogs. It’s good that you have a vet oncologist. I understand your hesitancy about chemo, but I would love you to read the blogs here about chemo if you haven’t already. Chemo for dogs is nothing like the extreme chemo humans go through, and the truth is that you are in a fire fight here. We totally love and support all holistic and natural supportive therapies. Dr Dresslers book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, co-written with vet oncologist Dr Susan Ettinger (both also contribute to this blog) has chapters on the ingredients you mention as well as cautions of when they can be helpful, when not to use (as you mentioned with ginger) and frankly, they are not likely to help at all, in their opinion. Cancer is truly a wild fire, and holistic therapies while effective, are not proven to be able to stop wild fires. Surgery and chemo can be incredibly effective with an experiened vet oncologist at the helm. My own dog didn’t bat an eyelash through his chemo and did very very well. We supported him with great, natural nutrition, Apocaps, and all the holistic use to support him along with joy every day. It’s your decision, and you know what is best for you both. I’m simply asking you not to turn your back on conventional treatments such as chemo out of hand. Take a breath and a fresh look please. You can walk both roads if you wish. Download the Dog Cancer Diet (at the top of this blog) or at and use soft broths and delectible pureed foods like chicken to help her nutrition. Good luck my dear, and a big hug to your girl.

  • John June 15, 2016, 6:08 am

    If I were to use the powder form of ginger root, what mg dosage would be good for a 60 lb dog?

  • Janice Davis July 15, 2018, 1:07 pm

    Hi, when you write “Give roughly 1/2 teaspoon for dogs under 35 lbs” then you say “Ideally it is to be given three times a day. Mix in food. ” Are you saying give 1/2 a teaspoon three times a day for a total of 1.5 teaspoons? Or are you saying take that 1/2 teaspoon of ginger and divide it up over three times a day? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    • DogCancerBlog July 17, 2018, 10:18 am

      Hey Janice, thanks for writing! To clarify, Dr. Dressler is saying to give your dog 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger, ideally three times a day. So, your dog would receive a total of 1.5 teaspoons of ginger per day 🙂

      We hope this helps! 🙂

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