Getting the cancer diagnosis for your pet can be terrifying, heart breaking and completely overwhelming. You may feel angry, confused and scared. In this article I am going to take you through how to get through the days ahead with a solid plan.
First, I will give you a list of do’s and don’ts then I will give you some practical tips of things you can start doing now to help your pet.
To begin, let’s discuss the things you WILL NOT do. Please, don’t do these.
- Look for a cause. One of the first questions pet parents ask is ‘How did this happen?’. It’s natural to want to find someone or something to blame in this situation. The downside of doing this is that it doesn’t accomplish anything. It will only cause you to feel exhausted and angry. Right now you need to get focused. (Side note: This topic does matter, and we will definitely revisit this. It just doesn’t help right now to spend any resources here.)
- Google. Okay, so I know it is totally unrealistic to ask you not to search the web. I know I ‘google’ EVERYTHING. Let’s just put some limits on this activity. Don’t lose sleep because you got lost in cyberspace all night. I am going to tell you exactly what resources are worth your time on the web.
Now let’s get to your DO list.
- Get a diagnosis. What type of cancer is really important information when making your plan. Whenever possible it’s helpful to have what’s called a histological diagnosis. This means that a pathologist at a lab has looked at the cancer cells under a microscope. This can tell us how aggressive the cancer is and sometimes it can tell us if it was completely removed.
- Get the cancer staged. This requires using imaging and sometimes other types of biopsies to see if the cancer has spread. Generally x-rays of the chest and an ultrasound of the abdomen is required. For some this may not be feasible financially or may not make sense in particular cases.
- Get a team of veterinarians. Consulting with a veterinary oncologist can be really helpful. They can give you all your options for radiation and chemotherapy and will be giving you the most updated protocol. Find a holistic or integrative veterinarian to help you use alternative therapies most effectively.
Now that you are focused, let’s go over some things you can start doing right away. These are recommendations I make for all pets with cancer in my practice.
Like all nutritional philosophies, there a lot of differing and conflicting theories out there. I will present you with both ends of the spectrum and give you my opinion of both.
Low Protein Diet: This a popular diet used for people with cancer. The Gerson Method is a popular version of this diet that uses a plant based, low fat, low protein protocol. Other diets that advocate for low protein diets are pH centered. Generally meats are considered acidic and are limited on such regimens.
My opinion: While I do appreciate the theory around these diets, I don’t think they are appropriate for cats. I have seen some dogs thrive with lower protein diets but I think they are the exception. If you decide to use such protocols, adapt them to dogs by using a moderate protein diet. Check out Dr. Deva Khalsa’s material for more on a lower protein diet for cancer.
High Protein Diet: This is where many experts in natural animal health industry align. This goes back to the idea that we should be modeling what our dogs and cats would be eating in the wild. Therefore, we should be feeding very low or a no grain diet.
My opinion: We really need more research on this topic. For now, I definitely take this approach with cats and design diets for dogs on a case by case basis.
What I can say with certainty is that patients with cancer should have more fresh whole foods in their diet. The less processed the better. Whether you use a raw diet or use a home cooked diet, add these superfoods whenever possible:
- Avocado (no pit)
- Fermented foods
- Sardines (canned in water)
This is where you can absolutely go crazy and feed your dog more supplements than food. If you have a kitty, supplements become more difficult for those often picky eaters! For that reason, I am going to give you my top three supplements that I use in practice for animals with cancer.
- Cannabis oil. Here are links to my posts about cannabis for dogs and cats.
- Onco Support. Click here to order or learn more.
- Omega 3 Supplements. I really like the Nordic Natural pet line. If your pet is allergic to fish consider krill oil or green lipped mussel as a great source of omegas.
Herbal therapy –
This is a time when herbal therapy really shines. For cancers that bleed like hemangiosarcoma and nasal carcinomas, herbal formulas like Yunnan Baiyao can reduce or even stop bleeding altogether. Find a veterinarian that practices Traditional Chinese Medicine or is proficient in Western herbology.
Here are some great online resources:
This is big, scary stuff. Remember that there are many resources out there to help you. I am sending you a big hug and a lot of understanding.
Has your pet received a cancer diagnosis? Do you have any tips to share with other pet parents?
Leave a comment below.
Sending you so much love,