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Vet Talks: Cancer in Pets

Vet Talks 2 min read
Cancer in dogs
hillary-cook

Being an integrative veterinary practitioner, I often see dogs and cats with cancer who need holistic care.  Many receive western medications and chemotherapy and I add in diet, herbal therapy, physical therapy, and acupuncture, and or spinal manipulation to enable my patients to be more comfortable, and stay in remission longer.

Cancer, unfortunately is the leading cause of death among dogs and cats in the United States.

It is possible to extend life if problems are presented earlier to veterinarians, although that being said, things can often happen very suddenly.  Signs to look for if your pet is ill and may have cancer include:

  • Anorexia and weight loss
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Drinking more water than usual and urinating more
  • Lameness, stiffness or other movement difficulties
  • Enlarged lymph nodes, lumps or swellings anywhere on body
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty breathing,
  • Offensive odor to breath
  • Skin sores that won’t heal
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing, exercise intolerance
  • Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
  • Abdominal distention

Some common types of cancers include, lymphoma carcinomas, osteosarcomas, melanomas, and mast cell tumors to name a few.  Some dogs are at greater risk to cancer than others due to genetics including golden retrievers, boxers, Scottish terriers, poodles, St. Bernards, basset hounds, Airedale terriers, chows, German shepards, bulldogs, beagles, Rottweilers.

The cause of cancer in pets is not well understood, but there are some things you can do to give the best chance in avoiding cancer

  • Diet: feed the best diet possible, what I call a “clean” diet- balanced, minimal ingredients either home cooked, raw or commercially available
  • Lots of exercise, this is good for the body as well as the mind
  • Eliminate exposure to toxins- think about your pet as you would yourself- inhalant toxins, chemical toxins, pesticides, any unhealthy environmental exposures should be eliminated.
  • Reduce the number of unnecessary vaccines
  • Annual exams in younger patients and biannual exams in any animal over the age of 8, biannual screening lab work over the age of 8 and base line labwork in younger dogs and cats.
  • Brush your pet’s teeth daily
  • Keep immune system up with immune stimulating supplements such as nutritional vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric, milk thistle and ES Clear, and Natures Immuno by NHV

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, my best advice is to gather all information available and talk about treatment plan with your western veterinarian – internist, oncologist, surgeon or primary veterinarian in conjunction with your holistic veterinarian for the best outcome possible.

Please also feel free to contact me for an online vet consult, which you can book through NHV.



Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for fifteen years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!


Published: December 15, 2017

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