Most conventional cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, are based on the fact that malignant tumors have a higher rate of growth and the drugs work by interfering with the cell's DNA synthesis or function. Because healthy cells go through regular division, these conventional treatments have an increased incidence of side effects and a limited area of effectiveness and safety.
There are new classes of drugs that are being researched to mark the abnormal high dividing cells and therefore destroy only cancer cells.
Another conventional treatment is removing a tumor through surgery. This can be very effective unless the cancer cells have spread to a new area.
Using a Holistic Approach to Treating Cats or Dogs with Cancer
Many animals respond very well to conventional therapies but the related side effects, long term prognosis, quality of life and other health issues all need to be considered when looking at treatment options.
Holistic treatments are often used along with conventional treatments to reduce the toxic effects of chemo drugs and radiation. They help mobilize the immune system to support the body itself.
Nutrition, supplements and acupuncture are all part of a holistic approach to healing dogs and cats with cancer.
Good nutrition is the foundation for building a strong immune system. Most commercial pet food is very high in carbohydrates and is generally too much for a pet's low activity levels. Carbohydrates are much cheaper for pet food companies and are often used as fillers. Cancer cells use carbohydrates as their main energy source, leaving a pet with even poorer quality nutrition. A high protein, low carbohydrate, moderate fat diet should be offered to give the most optimal nutrition for your pet's health. Here are some commercial diets that we suggest:
Supplements and Herbs
Supplements and western or eastern herbs are also key for whole body support. Often during chemotherapy or radiation therapy, side effects cause loss of appetite, lethargy and suppress the white blood cell counts. Immune supplements can help pets recover from treatment faster and with more energy.
There are compounds in some herbs that have been studied and found to stimulate specific immune cells in the body that attack and destroy cancer cells. This often results in a more favorable outcome for the pet's overall quality and length of life. Look for these herbs:
- Astragalus - Studies have shown that it helps to restore immune system functioning and suppress tumor growth in cancer patients.
- Echinacea - Benefits immune functioning and as a tonic for the lymphatic system.
- Ashwagandha - Has anti-tumor properties that can help prevent or slow the development of tumors.
- Milk Thistle - A widely researched herb that has been shown to restore liver functioning. Milk thistle contains silymarin, a powerful antioxidant that helps in detoxifiying the liver. This herb is often recommended to counteract the harmful effects of prescription drugs and vaccinations.
- Reishi Mushrooms - Enhance immune modulators and inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Selenium - An antioxidant that protects cell membranes and slows down the hardening of tissues due to oxidation.
Acupuncture has been found to help suppress pain and inflammation and effects neurologic function and so will often work with both conventional and non-traditional therapies. A trained and licensed practitioner will determine the treatment points carefully so as not to stimulate activity of a cancer cells. In many cases,, acupuncture will be used to correct the underlying imbalance of the body that initiated the cancer. It is also commonly used for the secondary pain and loss of appetite that often occurs with cancer.
C-Caps from PetAlive
PetAlive C-Caps contain a combination of natural herbs known for their anti-tumor properties and their ability to optimize immune functioning. Used for centuries in traditional medicine, many of these herbs have been subjected to clinical research which have upheld their ability to slow down the spread of cancer to surrounding cells, retard the growth of malignant tumors and strengthen a compromised immune system.
To purchase or read more about C-Caps...
For additional support, ask your veterinarian whether your pet would benefit from any of these products which support the immune system.
Immugen from Thorne Research
Immugen's unique formula combines vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals and other nutrients for optimal immune system functioning. This powerful formula contains the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, Zinc, NAC, Thymus, Reishi Mushrooms, and the herbs Echinacea, and Astragalus which are known to help the immune system fight bacterial and viral infections as well as reduce inflammation. Scientific studies have found that astragalus restored the function of the immune cells of cancer patients. The extract also was found to have antitumor properties, inhibiting the growth of tumors in mice.
To purchase or read more about Immugen...
ModucareVET from Thorne Research
Moducare is a proprietary blend of plant sterols and sterolins. Sterols and sterolins have been shown to be important in helping to keep the immune system in balance and in keeping the body’s inflammatory response under control. Supplementation with sterols and sterolins helps maintain an optimum balance of these micronutrients and provides a natural means of supporting your pet’s defense system. This formula provides support for animals with cancer in that it enhances natural killer and T-helper cell activity.
To purchase or read more about Moducare...
Small Animal Antioxidant from Thorne Research
Thorne's new Small Animal Antioxidant formula is designed for animals with an increased oxidative burden that need a supplement with maximum antioxidant potential.
This new formula includes many of the powerful antioxidants of the orignal formula (milk thistle, grape seed extract, Vitamins C and E) and now has the added benefit of these ingredients: Potent plant-based antioxidants and amino acids to enhance glutathione levels.
To purchase or read more about Small Animal Antioxidant...
Super EPA-VET from Thorne Research
Super EPA-VET is a fish oil concentrate that is a superior source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Although more studies need to be done showing the effects of Omega-3s on reducing cancer risk, some have shown them to be beneficial in reducing and stopping the growth of tumors, as well as reducing skin damage from radiation treatment. Omega-3s are also beneficial in helping stop cancer cachexia (weight loss).
To purchase or read more about Super EPA-VET..