Previous posts in this series:
As I’ve mentioned in previous parts of this series, we chose to treat Sheba’s cancer (after surgery) with natural methods, selecting those that had the least risk of side effects. Our goal is to not just hopefully increase her time with us, but to keep her feeling good and enjoying life every day.
Those things include immune system boosters:
- Boosting melatonin levels through high quality sleep.
- Stimulating Vitamin D production through exposure to sunlight.
- Modified Citrus Pectin
- Fish and Camelina Seed Oils
Boosting melatonin: Melatonin can boost the immune system and have anti-cancer effects on bodies. Studies have shown that it can limit metastasis, reduce tumors, and help to restore body weight lost due to cancer. In his book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide*, Dr. Demian Dressler advises boosting melatonin not through oral supplements, but by providing your dog with at least 9 hours of sleep per night in a completely dark room. This is when the body produces this powerful hormone most effectively.
I felt badly that Sheba wasn’t getting that at our old house. Our second floor bedroom there had many windows and skylights that were not shaded, and we watched TV in there as well. At our new house, I’m happy to say we no longer have a TV in the bedroom! Sheba usually takes herself to bed when we sit down to watch TV around 8 pm. We try to keep them sleeping until at least 5 am, so most of the time she is at least getting close to those 9 hours, now in a dark room.
Vitamin D through sunlight exposure: Sunlight stimulates Vitamin D production, which can slow down cancer cell division and metastasis. There are some exceptions to this though! Dogs with squamous cell carcinoma or hemangiosarcoma should avoid sunlight exposure. You also have to limit time in the sun, just as humans do; and be careful of overheating. I think a good guideline is 10-30 minutes per day. Again, Vitamin D supplements are NOT recommended in place of sunlight, as they can be toxic in the bloodstream.
We love being outdoors, and Sheba does especially so it’s easy to get her outside daily. She is usually good about moving into the shade on her own if she’s warm as well.
Modified Citrus Pectin* was an easy supplement to add to Sheba’s diet, as it has little to no side effects. Pectin is produced naturally in fruits, but has to be modified slightly in order to enter the bloodstream where it can help to block cancer cells from binding to their targets, and can keep them from metastasizing. It also may stop tumors from creating new blood cells.
We started using Dr. Mercola’s curcumin* after Sheba’s first surgery, and we give that to all of the dogs. It can kill cancer cells, slow their division, and reduce metastasis. It also has few or no side effects, though it can cause blood thinning so should not be used 10 days prior to or after surgeries, or until sutures have been removed (the same goes for fish oils).
We have also been using fish oil for all of the dogs for some time, to provide healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. The availability of the brand we like was limited for a while, so I researched another informative blog I like, Keep the Tail Wagging, (where I first read about the Bonnie & Clyde’s Wild Omega 3 fish oil*) to find an alternative. I liked what Kimberly wrote about Camelina Seed Oil, so we are now going to alternate these two oils. Camelina Seed Oil has a longer shelf life, no fish smell, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. But it also has anti-inflammatory effects, and strengthens the immune system. We are using Megga Dog Brand* which is organic and made in Oregon.
You can probably see the common theme here: none of this will cure Sheba’s cancer, but the hope is that it will slow it down from metastasizing. A healthy immune system through diet, lifestyle, and supplements will also hopefully keep Sheba feeling as well as possible for as long as possible.
It’s also worth mentioning that she has not had a problem eating any of these things we have added to her food! Meal time can be crazy around here, because we also add joint supplements to their meals; but it is totally worth it to still have Sheba with us and feeling good five months post-surgery.
Watch for our final post in this series, when I will be writing about ways to prevent cancer.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and the things we are trying here are our own choice to try, after doing my own research. You should consult your own vet when making any significant changes to your dogs’ diet or lifestyle.
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