Integrative and Alternative Medicine for Treating Cancer in Dogs and Cats
By: Dr. Ilana Smolkin, DVM | Nov 1, 2016
Dr. Ilana Smolkin talks about how different alternative therapies can be combined with traditional medicine to treat cancer in dogs and cats. One example, herbal therapies can be used to ease the side effects of chemotherapy and in some cases, increase the effectiveness or chemotherapeutic drugs. Dr. Smolkin discusses some of the alternative therapies available for treating cancer in pets and also reveals what claims, supplements and information to look out for online so that you don’t get scammed.
Hi, I’m Dr. Ilana Smolkin here for healthcareforpets.com. I’m going to talk a little bit about integrated care for cancer. A diagnosis of cancer in your pet can be absolutely devastating and you’re going to get a lot of information at that time of all your different treatment options and those can vary widely depending on the type of cancer and the location. There might be things like surgery that you can do, chemotherapy, radiation, again, very much dependent on the type of cancer and each one is treated very differently and has different options. These options can be gone over and discussed with your regular veterinarian or a referral to a specialist or veterinary oncologist.
What I’m going to talk about here a little bit is integrating some other medicines so herbal therapy or acupuncture into that treatment plan and this is an area where I have seen huge improvement in quality of life. The most common support that we use for these animals is usually herbal therapy and we’re using those herbals to try and help negate some of the side effects that we can see from treatment so we all know that chemotherapy can be nauseating, can cause diarrhea, and herbal therapies can sometimes help prevent some of those side effects. Herbal therapies can sometimes also be used for pain control and to keep your animal more comfortable. Some herbals actually help increase the effectiveness of that traditional treatment so that chemotherapeutic drug or radiation. In some cases there are some herbs that even help control the cancer directly depending again on the type of cancer and the herbs that we’re talking about but there’s lots of research out there in this area in this field.
Herbals can really help improve the quality of life which is most important here. We also always strive for an increased quantity of life or more time to have that pet with us but really what’s most important for us when we’re coming up with the treatment plan for you and your pet is to make sure that that quality is still good. Those pets can’t tell us yes or no if they want to go through treatment protocols so we have to really watch and make sure that they’re still enjoying life and that they’re still feeling comfortable.
Nutrition is another area that can really help in this area. Certain cancers have shown that they can respond to changes of carbohydrate levels or changes of fat and this is an area that I really encourage people to talk over with their veterinarian or again seek referral to an oncologist. Nutrition can also play a really important role in helping your pet through cancer. Some cancers respond to different levels of carbohydrates or fats and sometimes those can be altered. Also, pets undergoing treatment or just with cancer alone have different caloric needs than a healthy average pet. I really encourage you to talk this over with your veterinarian or with a veterinary specialist or an oncologist.
Acupuncture or osteopathy are also two things that we can do to just try and help the body’s overall immune system. They can be used for pain control or as I said to just boost the body’s ability to deal with the drugs or deal with the cancer itself.
What’s most important if you do decide to seek out some integrated care for your pet with this cancer diagnosis is that you talk these over with your veterinarian or find a professional that will work with your veterinarian. I tell people all the time be very wary of what you find online both in terms of the advice as well as supplements. I have seen over the years supplements on there boasting all sorts of things from cure to palliation and you need to take those with a grain of salt. You also need to know that some of the herbs or the ingredients in that supplement might interfere with something that your vet or your specialist has put your dog on so you want to be really open and forthcoming with what you’re using to make sure that there’s no negative interaction there because after all you’re truly just trying to do what’s best for your pet. We need to make sure that whatever natural treatments that you’ve decided that you want to add into your treatment plan or use even potentially as your entire treatment plan, don’t interfere with the quality of life fo what’s going on because what’s important to us is your pet’s health here at healthcareforpets.com.
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