We’ve lost 5 pets over the years to cancer, Sheba will be our third dog, unless we can hold off her cancer long enough for old age to take her from us. Therefore, it’s important to us to do everything we can now for Luke, Cricket, and any future pets to hopefully keep them cancer free.
The Dog Cancer Survival Guide* by Dr. Demian Dressler has been our main reference for fighting Sheba’s cancer, and while that’s mostly what the book is all about, it does touch briefly on ways we can possibly prevent cancer in our other dogs. This is something important to all of us, whether we’ve ever lost a dog to cancer or not.
These are the recommendations Dr. Dressler gives; not all of the things we are doing to fight Sheba’s cancer, such as her diet, are also cancer preventatives, but some can be:
- 7-8 hours of sleep in a dark room. We also discussed this as an important part of fighting Sheba’s cancer in Part 4.
- Avoiding obesity. This is SO important for pets and humans alike, and not just for cancer prevention but for prevention of many other diseases.
- Isolation and depression have been linked to cancer in humans. Giving our dogs attention, love, and activities will keep them happy. If you’re reading this blog you’re probably a pet lover, and I trust you are most likely doing those things anyway!
- Healthy exercise ties in with both things listed above. It’s good for all of us.
- Feeding brightly colored vegetables such as red or yellow peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts (favorites around here). Carrots are high in carbohydrates so not highly recommended (we still feed in moderation). I would add in that if your dogs don’t love vegetables that cooking them can really make a difference (and is recommended for dogs with cancer). Luke will eat any vegetable, raw or cooked, but the girls won’t eat many raw but they will eat them cooked.
- As with humans, lean towards feeding lean white meats and fish, and less toward red meats.
- Limit carbohydrates like wheat, corn, and sugar. We feed some wheat treats around here, but I don’t give the dogs anything with corn or sugar.
- Try to find dog foods that are not processed at high temperatures. I listed some examples in Part 3A.
- Avoid carcinogens. Use glass or ceramic bowls instead of plastic. Don’t expose your dogs to pesticides, lawn chemicals, car exhaust or tobacco smoke.
- Dr. Dressler does not put this on his list of preventatives, but I have read that the curcumin* we give our dogs not only might help to slow down Sheba’s cancer, but can prevent it as well. There is no stark evidence to support this, but early trials and studies have shown promise. It’s been observed that countries that use curcumin (turmeric) more have lower rates of certain types of cancer. We will continue to use curcumin for our dogs even when we’re not fighting cancer.
Getting a puppy?
- If you don’t want to deal with cancer, there are some breeds of dogs you can avoid. Personally, I can’t ever say I won’t get another golden retriever because of that and they are #1 on the list. That is a totally personal decision. You can find a list by clicking here.
- Hold off on vaccines until at least 8-10 weeks old. This might be easier said than done, since breeders, shelters, and rescues may have already done this. But if you are planning to get a puppy ahead of time you may be able to ask them to wait. Dr. Dressler recommends that boosters should then be given at ages 1, 4, and 7 years. Those are core vaccines, some other vaccines have to be given yearly, but just be sure you are only getting those vaccines if they are for diseases prevalent in your area. He also recommends no longer vaccinating after age 8, but you can also get titer tests done to be sure the immunity is still there; and then make that decision with your vet.
- Spaying/neutering. I know this is a hot topic and honestly, it’s one that I’m still not sure where I stand on. There is far too much information about this topic to include in this post. Dr. Dressler recommends not spaying females until between their third and fourth heats, and not neutering males until they are 18 – 24 months old. Our vet has always recommended spaying/neutering at 6 months old so that is always what we have done. However, it’s come to my attention that if we had waited with Luke he might not have ended up with his luxating patellas (trick knees). It’s something I struggle with, and I’m not sure what we’ll do the next time we get a puppy; but we will discuss it further with our vet, and everyone should do that.
It’s difficult to know if anything we’re doing for Sheba is actually helping, just as you can never know if your dog will end up with cancer or not. Could we have done better in the past, and possibly prevent the cancer we have seen in our pets? We can’t know that for sure either, but all we can do is try and hope for the best; as with anything in life.
This is the last post in this series, but I still have some other posts coming up on this subject, about other things that are being done to try to battle cancer. I came upon a very interesting story in my own area that I want to share.
If you would like to read the other posts in this series about the ways we are fighting Sheba’s cancer, here are the links:
- Part IV – Supplements & Immune System Boosters
- Part III (B) – Meals
- Part III(A) – Diet
- Part II – Lifestyle
- Part I – Introduction
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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