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Cancer, Dogs and Supplements

B-Naturals Newsletter – June, 2009

Cancer, Dogs and Supplements

By Lew Olson, PhD Natural Health

While treatment options can vary for dogs with cancer, supplement recommendations remain fairly consistent for each type. The idea of supplements for cancer is primarily to support the dog’s immune system. No supplements or alternative methods can ‘cure’ cancer, but our best hope is to support the immune system to help the dog keep in best health and to help keep a dog in remission who has received treatment. The choices for supplements include antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, herbs, amino acids and enzymes. This list is not meant to be inclusive, but does contain a list of what I have found to be most effective in my own studies and experiences with my dogs. I will try and add more in the future as I find such products that I find helpful and have some research behind them.


The two most common antioxidants for use in cancer are vitamin C and vitamin E. Both of these fight free radicals, and help promote a healthy immune system. Generally these are given in higher doses, called mega doses. Generally I recommend 50 IU to 100 IU of vitamin E per ten pounds of body weight daily, and 100 mg to 200 mg of vitamin C per ten pounds of body weight daily. In high doses of vitamin C, using the buffered variety (ascorbate) may be more easily tolerated in high doses. Give both of these vitamins with food. There is some question as to whether giving antioxidants during chemotherapy or radiation is helpful or harmful, as both of these treatments produce free radicals, to fight the cancer. Currently there are studies on both sides of this issue, and the general consensus is that no one knows for certain if they are helpful or harmful. Nor is it clear if they are simply not given on the day of treatment, or during the entire course of treatment. Two studies came out recently on breast cancer, one showing antioxidants help and the other showing they are harmful, so it is a confusing issue. For more information, here are some links on this topic: American Cancer Society, Antioxidants should be avoided http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/cgi/content/full/55/5/319 Science Daily-Antioxidants Aid Cancer Patients http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070426132954.htm Cancer Decisions Supports with Documentation the use of Antioxidants http://www.cancerdecisions.com/mrstore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=512 Currently, I still use them for my dogs when receiving treatment, but research the information and ask the opinion of your Veterinarian providing the treatment.

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

These essential fatty acids are thought to help fight inflammation, help support the immune system, help coat and skin integrity. Additionally, cancer cannot utilize or gain energy from this nutrient. Omega 3 fatty acids are hard to find in most foods. Foods that do provide omega 3 fatty acids include deep water fish and fortified eggs. The most convenient way to give your dog omega 3 fatty acids is by using EPA Fish Oil Capsules. Omega 3 fatty acids are fragile, in that they lose their integrity when exposed to heat, light or air. It is recommended to use fish oil capsules rather than bottle fish oil to ensure the amount of EPA and DHA (omega 3 fatty acids). I would recommend giving one capsule (of at least 180 EPA and 120 DHA content) per 10 to 20 pounds of body weight daily.


These can be used individually or in combination. Herbs can often be like medicine, and a dog’s system can become accustomed to them, so we often ‘pulse’ herb use. This means giving them for two or three weeks, taking a week off and then repeating the use. The only herb I might use continuously would be Milk Thistle, which is used to protect the liver (such as in liver conditions or during and after chemotherapy or certain drug use). Generally, I find herbal tinctures are easier to dose and more effective for dogs than capsules or powders.

Herbs I have found useful include: Ganoderma- This is an extract of mushroom, which is thought to help suppress tumor growth. There are numerous varieties of mushrooms, but I have found this one the most helpful. This can be found in the Tasha's Immune System Formula (use Berte’s Immune Blend instead), which contains a blend of helpful herbs for dogs with cancer (or dogs with hard to treat infections). Turmeric- This is substance found in curry and also in mustard (to give it the yellow color). It is thought to reduce inflammation and suppress certain types of cancer cells. Research is still divided on this, but it could be helpful. I would probably suggest one of the liquid gel caps form, and I would suggest researching this further. Milk Thistle- This herb has documentation to show protective benefits of the liver and some anti-cancer properties. As I mentioned, this herb can be given continuously without ‘pulsing’. You can find this herb in liquid form on the B-Naturals website, called Tasha’s Milk Thistle Formula (editor's note: no longer available, use Animals's Apawthecary Milk Thistle). For more information on herbs with good research: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/11570.cfm (Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center)

Amino Acids

The two most useful amino acids (found in proteins) for cancer are arginine and glutamine. These are thought to help suppress tumor growth and help the immune system. L-Glutamine also has the added benefit of helping with digestion and aiding in healing after surgery. Both of these are found in the Bertes Immune Blend (which also contains vitamin C, E, B complex and enzymes and probiotics). B-Naturals also carries l-glutamine separately if more is needed for gastric problems or healing. DMG. Dimethylglycine- This is a derivative of glycine, an amino acid. DMG is thought to help oxidize the blood, which is thought to help fight cancer. It is also helpful to control seizure activity and help regulate the immune system. It can also help fight allergies. For more information on DMG: https://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/two-new-products-dmg-and-paste-probiotics/

Enzymes and Probiotics

Often dogs with cancer will have gastric issues and we want them to be able to absorb and utilize their food well. Probiotics help keep the good flora and fauna in the system, which helps with good digestion and stool formation. These also keep the intestines healthy. Enzymes with animal based ingredients like pancreatin and pancrealipase, help predigest fats and proteins in the stomach, for easier digestion in the small intestine and help relieve any additional burden for the liver and pancreas. Some enzymes also help fight inflammation. Good enzymes would include the Bertes Zymes (editor's note use FOOD SCIENCE ALL-ZYME) and the Bertes Digestion Blend (which also contains probiotics, l-glutamine and ginger, which helps control nausea). While I didn’t address diet in this article, nutrition is very important for dogs with cancer. I have an article on diet for both raw and home cooked meals here:


On a personal note, I have written on this topic this month as I just lost one of my beloved dogs to cancer a few days ago. Skylar was almost eleven years old, but it is still very hard to lose such wonderful, funny and great companions to such a horrid disease. This article is dedicated to Skylar, and for all the love, companionship, lessons and love he gave to Jeff and me. We love you Skylar and miss you very much.

Lew Olson skylar Ch Blackwood Skylar TD

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