Comprehensive  Ways To Delightful Healthy Pets
CANCER DOESN’T COME FROM NOWHERE
WHEN I WORKED AT THE ZOO HOSPITAL, THE BEAR LINE BUILDing was outside our gate. I loved to watch the spectacled bears climb. (They are appropriately named. They do look as if they are wearing yellow spectacles.)
One year, the zoo recycled Christmas trees by putting them in the bears’ enclosure for behavior enrichment. The bears liked them very much. One of these studious-looking bears managed to stack up several tree trunks and climb right out of his enclosure.
Several zoo visitors saw him meandering along in a public area, checking out the contents of garbage cans. Eventually a zookeeper spotted him outside the aviary. Spectacled bears are the most herbivorous, calm, and amiable of bears, so luring him back into his enclosure with a loaf of bread was easy.
The female spectacled bear, Lena, had watched the whole adventure, but she had stayed put inside their enclosure. About eight years later, Lena developed mammary cancer and I was called as a surgical consultant to do a mastectomy on her. It had been a while since any of the zoo vets had done this procedure, so they asked me. Tumors in bears behave similarly to tumors in dogs. While locally aggressive, they are not likely to metastasize elsewhere.
This spectacled bear was a favorite, and twenty people came to watch the surgery. I have had a few onlookers, students, techs, or other vets watch me in surgery, but never this many people, all of whom considered the patient to be part of their family. It was rather unnerving.
Having large blood vessels, and vasculature along their mammary chain, bears bleed a lot. The first few minutes looked like a bloodbath, and the crowd gasped every time I moved my scalpel. But as Lena’s vessels were ligated and the bleeding stopped, the crowd cheered. I was relieved that the rest of the tumor removal was relatively straightforward.
The closure was intricate. No catgut, nylon, or typical sutures for this girl. The zoo vets had recommended that I use thin, flexible, stainless steel sutures for the entire length of the site. They are strong, inert, and don’t cause any tissue reaction, and Lena would be less likely to be bothered by them. Any other suture would have been ripped apart by her strong nails in a matter of a few minutes. Closing the incision with wire took twice as long as the entire surgery. The doctors were right; she recovered well and left the incision alone.
At the time, I remember asking if mammary tumors were common in spectacled bears in the wild. I was told they were not. My only thought was, “That’s interesting.” I was still strictly a conventional veterinarian.
It is clear to me now that something went wrong to cause Lena to have cancer. Why would an otherwise healthy bear develop cancer? Does it follow that since dogs and humans suffer from mammary cancers, spectacled bears should as well? Shouldn’t the discussion go deeper? Unalterable circumstances of her city zoo life, a well-meant, yet imperfect diet, and annual anesthetic procedures could all have adversely affected her health. Zookeepers are aware that even a plastic toy, a chemical cleaner, or a carcinogen in a treat can pose a problem to an exotic zoo animal. These details are more likely to be examined with zoo animals and wildlife than with our own pets. Conventional veterinary medicine doesn’t teach vets to consider the significance of the day-to-day environment, but it should. Vet school had trained me to remove the cancer and move on, which I did for Lena, the spectacled bear.
Strawberry was a little carp with a cancerous growth on her eye. Like Lena, she was a favorite with the keepers, and they all came to watch as I performed surgery on her. She could only be sedated for eleven minutes or else the anesthetic agent might overwhelm her system. In front of an audience, I had to speed-remove the tumorous eye from an orange goldfish half-floating in a bowl. Fear-induced adrenaline made me intensely efficient, and I successfully completed the procedure in under eight minutes. Strawberry was free of the tumor and lived a long life.
Cancer is everywhere—even in fish. After removing the growth from the little carpfish, Strawberry, I was invited to be part of the surgical team called in to the Shedd Aquarium to excise the cancer from the head of a two-hundred-pound grouper. This room-sized fish had been carried from his tank in a sling and put in a small holding tank, which was the surgical suite. We used hoses to blow an anesthesia/water mixture across his gills. As with the carp, there is a time limit for how long a grouper, or any animal, can be under sedation.
Anesthesia for fish can be dangerous and we worked furiously. All of a sudden, the oxygenated spray of the anesthesia machine under the water began foaming. It was like a Mr. Bubble commercial. We were having trouble keeping the bubbles from obstructing our view of the surgical site. At first I had no idea why we had to scoop the frothy handfuls out of our way. Then I heard muffled laughter from several male aquarists. One of them said, with raised eyebrows, “He’s really enjoying the surgery!” In response to the anesthesia, the huge grouper had ejaculated sperm in a protein-rich fluid causing the bubbles and much hilarity.
After the surgery was completed, we discussed how little evidence there was of tumors in wild groupers. We rationalized this grouper’s malady by saying he was relatively old. Cancer in zoo and aquarium animals is often considered unavoidable. But there is plenty of research to the contrary. Many cancers in humans and pets are linked to diet and environmental conditions. There is a study that states that 85 percent of cancers in people are caused by a combination of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Genetics is not always the predominant cause of cancer, thus many types of cancer can be avoided.
In fact, cancer rates in people have increased over 25 percent since 1950. That number is much larger if you include cancer caused by smoking. There are similar trends in pets. Cancer is increasing in zoo animals as well. There is also mounting evidence that pollutants and toxins are causing an increase in wild animal cancers.
ROYAL TREATMENT CANCER TIPS
A reevaluation of diet is the most urgent action necessary. Feed your pet the most biologically appropriate food—that way the body has the correct tools to fight cancer cells.
Do not feed your pet known carcinogens. None of us would want to do this, but we may unwittingly feed our pets carcinogens. As already mentioned, many foods contain dangerous ingredients that are not listed on the label.
Processing methods can create carcinogens in food. There is a risk of creating carcinogens when meat is cooked using high heat. Heating a meat to above 212 degrees can cause the formation of compounds called heterocyclic amines, which are believed to be carcinogenic. If a product contains oils and carbohydrate starches, such as corn or potatoes, high heat can create acrylamide, which is also considered carcinogenic in animals. Neither of these compounds will be listed on the ingredients. They are by-products of the high-heat extrusion process that forms many dry kibbles.
Canned food does not contain these high-heat chemicals, and does, as I have mentioned, tend to have more meat, and no preservatives. But canned foods have a drawback, too. To increase shelf life and keep the contents from reacting to the metal or sticking to the sides, many can linings have bisphenol A, a plastic component that is considered a carcinogen. There is a movement to stop this practice and many companies are claiming to not use it in their cans.
At present the FDA does not regulate the quantity or presence of BPA in can linings. Therefore, there is no penalty for pet food companies misrepresenting their cans as BPA-free. However, if they are to be believed, there are many companies not using BPAs in their cans. Small aluminum cans tend to be BPA-free. Large steel cans are likely to have a BPA lining.
Although there is some new concern about BPA now being put on all flip-top lids, the trend to keep small cans BPA-free is promising. My website, www.royaltreatmentveterinarycenter.com, periodically compiles a list of companies that claim their cans are BPA-free. Call or write your pet food company. If you would like a prepared letter to send your pet food company requesting information on a number of topics of concern, you can download it from my website.
A pre-prepared commercial raw food is a great option as an anticancer diet. I have many patients on commercially available raw foods. But if your pet is undergoing chemotherapy for the cancer treatment, you can fully cook the raw patties. Check the food for any larger fragments of bone that might splinter when cooked. Different manufacturers have different sieve mesh for sifting out bone fragments. Cooking the food destroys any bacteria and pathogens that might assault a chemo-weakened immune system.
Freeze-dried raw foods can be fed as is, or can be rehydrated. With the freeze-drying process, the food remains nutrient-dense but pathogen-free. There are complete diets or freeze-dried supplements. This is another option for a cancer patient. Freeze-dried foods tend to be expensive, but they are easy to feed, light, and portable.
Home-prepared food is a great option, if you can spare the time and effort. Again, if there is raw meat involved and your pet is on chemo, cook the raw meat before serving. If you prepare your dog’s food at home, be sure to use a recipe in which the calcium and phosphorus ratios are correct. Having the proper balance of vitamins and minerals supports the body’s fight against cancer.
Consider having your water tested by a certified laboratory. You may find that improving water quality could help the whole family. Increasingly, we find chemicals in our water that shouldn’t be there and are not good for anyone. There may be a link between high amounts of fluoride in our water and an increased risk for osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in large breed dogs. Water processing makes our water clean of parasites and bacteria, but the chemicals used to do this and their by-products may be more insidious. Water doesn’t have to be shipped from a mountain spring in Tibet, but you can buy a water filter to improve the water quality for your pet. Hydration is essential for healthy cells. In addition, do not add medicines to a pet’s water bowl. Pets tend to drink less water if it doesn’t taste normal to them. Call the Safe Drinking Water hotline at 800-426-4791 or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs.
Avoid using plastic bowls for pet food and water. Even small amounts of plastic or BPA leaching into the water or food are a cancer risk. Eliminating as many carcinogens as possible in your pet’s life is a sensible health decision. Our world is full of carcinogens, even from the sun, and we are fighting cancerous cells every day. As pet owners, let’s improve the odds where we can.
Minimize the use of vaccines where possible. Cats can develop vaccine-associated sarcomas (tumors) at the sites of vaccines. It starts as an inflammation that turns into a cancer if it goes unnoticed and unchecked. Administering vaccines to cats is not a purely benign procedure. New protocols were developed in light of these tumors. Cat vaccines are not given in the neck area anymore. They are placed farther down the leg, so that owners can check for lumps at the vaccine site. If a cancer is found there, the leg can be amputated.
This seemingly reasonable and gruesome solution is based on misguided medical reasoning. Why are we willing to regularly inject a substance that could cause a leg to be amputated? The statistics show that one in every thousand vaccinated cats will develop a vaccine-associated sarcoma. How can this be good medicine? Better vaccines must be created. In addition, studies proving that many vaccines last much longer than a few years should give rise to even safer vaccine protocols.
A sweet eighteen-year-old black cat named Topaz was brought to me a couple of years ago for arthritis treatment. She had gorgeous yellow-green eyes. She was an outside cat for much of her life, so her annual vaccinations included rabies, feline leukemia, and distemper, which were often given in her hind end. For eighteen years she had come in at night and slept in bed with her owners. All of a sudden she had stopped jumping up on the bed, and would cry when landing on any surface. She lost interest in going outside.
The owners took Topaz to the ER. After an exam, the doctors said they could do X-rays, but it was not necessary. It was obvious that she was old and arthritic. They gave her an anti-inflammatory and recommended a follow-up with their regular vet.
The regular vet concurred with the ER doctors that Topaz’s arthritis was getting worse because of her age. The owners continued giving her anti-inflammatory meds and were told to add joint supplement injections for her stiff rear end. But the crying became even more frequent. She also whimpered when being picked up.
When the owners came to me for acupuncture for Topaz’s arthritis, I felt the diagnosis didn’t make sense. Animals with arthritis generally don’t cry out in pain—at least not chronically. They may cry out as they take a wrong step or after an injury to a stiff joint. But crying with everyday movements was unusual. In the wild, broadcasting feebleness or pain is not an evolutionary advantage because predators will quickly attack.
Topaz’s neurologic status was normal. She did not appear to be senile. I believed this cry came from something so unbearable it could not be kept quiet. I could feel heat emanating from her stiffened and thickened lumbar spine. I recommended getting X-rays.
The cancer had enveloped and eroded the bone in her lower spine and extended around part of her hip. It looked terribly painful. It was a fibrosarcoma, a locally aggressive tumor most likely caused by vaccination. There was very little we could do for her at that point. Her owners were heartbroken.
It is not yet fully proven how these sarcomas develop. They could be reactions to the vaccine agent or something in the surrounding fluid, or just an overreaction to the injection. The evidence is building. While vaccination may be lifesaving, overvaccination is not in anyone’s best interest. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends that distemper vaccines not be given more frequently than every three years.
The blood test to check the duration of immunity after a vaccination is called a vaccine titer. In my practice, I have found that most cats show good immunity years after the three-year mark without a booster vaccine. Many doctors interpret the AAFP guidelines as saying the vaccine should be given every three years, but I have found that for most cats, we can go much longer.
Veterinarians may be vaccinating based on old or incorrectly interpreted information. Reeducating veterinarians and encouraging owners to ask for better vaccine options is critically important in the treatment of cats.
In dogs, vaccine reactions can include local inflammation, hair loss, and lesions at vaccine sites, but they rarely turn into vaccine-associated sarcomas.
Building immunity against a life-threatening disease is a good idea. But vaccination where immunity already exists makes no sense. Immunity, like any fighting force, must choose its battles. When immune cells are overstimulated it is often at the expense of other immune functions, and so there can be a greater risk of imbalance and disease.
Avoid chemicals, medications, and toxins where you can. Minimize medications like flea and tick products—except where the risk of tick-borne disease is great. Use heartworm prevention only during mosquito season, and one month after.
Beware of too much sun exposure if your pet is white or “color-dilute” or has no fur either genetically or because of being shaved. I recommend protective clothing gear rather than sunscreen. Do not use sunscreen for cats, as they metabolize the salicylates (an ingredient in some sunscreens) into salicylic acid (aspirin metabolite), which is toxic to them.
Cat litter should be as pure as possible. Avoid fragrances, chemicals, and other toxins that might be in litter.
I AM GRATIFIED TO know that when I have to treat a patient with cancer, I have tools to help improve their health without causing distressing side effects. In many cases, the cancers in my patients have been stalled—often way past the predicted prognosis. I am aware that this could mean the prognosis might have been inaccurate, but I can’t argue with the results we have seen at the Royal Treatment Veterinary Center. I believe protocols for diet and immune system support have contributed to restored and prolonged health in our cancer patients.
With a comprehensive exam, a determination can be made as to what other deficiencies have contributed to the existence of many cancers such as sarcomas, lymphomas, osteosarcomas, and mast cell tumors. The successes I see in my patients fighting cancer are not due to a single pill, supplement, or food. They are due to a combined approach that includes diet, supplements, nutraceuticals, and healthy lifestyles.
I tailor supplements individually for each pet. According to the animal’s issues and responses, I prescribe different dosages and combinations. Body constitution, type of cancer, and general health condition, as well as the potency of immune response, determine which, how much, how often, and for how long I will use any supplement. Some supplements can’t be given to patients undergoing chemo, while some can, and many can help support animals during chemo.
Royal Treatment Supplements Used to Help Fight Cancer
Hoxsey-like formula and Essiac tea. Hoxsey and Essiac are two elegant combinations of herbs known to herbalists as anticancer and anti-inflammatory combinations.
Artemisinin (given five days a week with one complete week off a month)—an herb used to fight cancer by affecting iron uptake
Vitamins A, C, and E—antioxidant properties and support for killer T cells to induce cancer cell destruction
Omega-3 fatty acids—antioxidants for overall health
Maitake and reishi mushroom combos—anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties
Astragalus—immune support, circulatory health
Ashwaganda—immune support adaptogen
Milk thistle—liver support
Turmeric—well-researched anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties
Green tea extract—antioxidant properties
Transfer factor—reported to enhance the ability of the natural killer cells to fight cancer cells.
Beta-glucans—polysaccharides from mushrooms and other sources. Considered “biological response modifiers” because they help activate the immune system.
Probiotics—support healthy GI tract, repopulate good bacteria in the GI tract
Coenzyme Q10—vascular support for healthy vessels and circulation.
Green tripe is a fabulous supplement food to help soothe the GI tract and promote GI health. The beneficial bacteria, digestible protein, high fat content, minerals, and beneficial bacteria are medicinal. The smell is foul for owners, but heaven for a dog or cat. It helps animals with chronic diseases or cancer that may affect appetite or GI health.
By the time it is diagnosed, most oncologists agree that a bone cancer such as an osteosarcoma has already spread throughout the body. Chemotherapy is typically recommended to rid the body of those cells. There are instances in which chemotherapy is indicated and can be a cure. However, I have serious reservations about any approach that does not build on the foundation of health while combating disease. This is where I work with the oncologist and the owners to formulate an effective integrative plan for health. I am fortunate to work with wonderful oncologists in Chicago. When I collaborate with my colleagues, I am encouraged about the integrative future of veterinary medicine regarding cancer treatments and other conditions.
Many of my clients with pets diagnosed with osteosarcoma decide to avoid the toxicity of chemotherapy. They opt for amputation to relieve the pain, and then no further allopathic medication. When they come to me, I help these patients maintain vibrant health, with the hope of letting the animal’s body destroy its own cancer cells. We have had great success with proper diet, acupuncture, supplements, and exercise to support the innate health of cancer patients. I treat many amputee osteosarcoma patients who have been in remission for many years, and have not been through chemotherapy.
With a three-legged loping gait, Isabelle, the adorable shepherd mix, races into my clinic. It’s been two years since osteosarcoma was the reason that her leg had to be amputated. She knows treats and water-walking are in her immediate future. Excited by the social side of her visit, she says hello to the staff. After a treat or two, she starts her workout, without risk of falling or slipping, in the underwater treadmill. Her owner watches as Isabelle’s muscles and gait improve. Because of therapy, she will have fewer falls on land and will have more stamina for play. She never had chemo. She is healthy and active, and when she runs on the beach, she doesn’t look handicapped at all. Or thirteen years old, for that matter.
Isabelle’s success is not an anomaly. It is a testament to what can be done with a dedicated owner, an excellent diet, regular acupuncture, anticancer supplements, and a great exercise program.
Lymphoma, caused by a faulty, overacting immune system, is one of the common cancers I see in pets. It is often responsive to chemo. I work with owners to mitigate the side effects of the toxic drugs by using acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, diet, and supplements.
Mast cell tumors, an immune cell disease, are another relatively common cancer. Normal mast cells are reactive immune cells that arrive when the skin is inflamed. The mast cells can also create a hot, inflamed tumor. In addition to specific supplements based on my exam, the skin-cooling power of aloe juice—about 1/2 teaspoon for every 30 pounds of animal—can improve skin health.
I treat animals with many types of cancer these days, but I am comforted to know that I have tools to help improve health and decrease some of the deeper causes of their disease. Many things have to go wrong for cancer cells to grow. Our job is to minimize the possibility of things going wrong. I can’t say we have found a cure for cancer yet, but we find we can stall its progress in many ways—often way past what the prognosis predicted. I believe that the Royal Treatment integrative protocols for diet and immune system support in cancer cases can restore and prolong the health of our patients.
I wish I could report that wild animals are still relatively unscathed by cancers, which used to be the case twenty years ago. But as toxins and chemicals have increased in the world, they are affecting wildlife, too. There is a great deal of information that shows direct connection between cancers in wildlife and human-made toxins in their environment.