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.
*Affiliate links. We may receive a small commission if you order through these links.
Dolly the Doxie says
Sheba certainly seems to be doing well, so hopefully all that you are doing are helping to prolong the quality of her life. Love Dolly
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
I’ve heard of vit D and fish oil but never heard of the rest of the supplements so thanks for sharing. Hope Sheba stays healthy for a very long time.
2 Brown Dawgs says
Did you have to consider of the joint supplements would counteract the other supplements? I always worry about adding in too many different supplements together because I know some things can lessen the effects of others. Do you know if there an easy place to check this?
I did not consider that, but it’s a great question. The book didn’t address joint supplements at all that I remember, it only told of what supplements not to use if your dog had certain medical conditions.
I don’t know of an easy place to check. I did some internet research but couldn’t find anything that directly addressed that. All I can tell you is that it doesn’t seem to – both Cricket and Sheba have been on the same supplements, other than the citrus pectin, and both of them have been doing great with their arthritis. We dropped Cricket’s Rimadyl and Sheba has only needed hers occasionally.
That also brings to my mind the question of whether we’re doing more than we need to. Both the joint supplements and the fish oil are good for joints, and maybe they would do fine with just one or the other? Though each might have individual benefits too, such as healthier skin and coat with the fish oil. That’s something I should probably think about as well.
Brian Frum says
My goodness, such an amazing an well thought out series!!!
Thank you, Brian!
So many good alternatives. I totally believe in nutrition and vitamins and how important it is!!
Groovy Goldendoodles says
I haven’t tried the seed oil yet – let me know how you like it. I do use Bonnie & Clyde Omega 3 oil. You are doing an amazing job with Sheba – Happy Mothers Day.
Thank you so much, Cathy! I will let you know about the seed oil. So far it seems to be great. Happy Mother’s Day to you too!
Callie, Shadow, and says
I’m so glad that Sheba is still doing so well! My sweet Callie-angel is doing a great job of watching over her.
I almost cried when I saw the photo of Sheba napping in the sun. She looks SO much like Callie in that picture! Callie used to love her naps in the sun, too; and like Sheba, would move to the shade after a little while.
Did Callie just love being outdoors overall? Sheba wants to be outside as much as she can, I sometimes have to bring her in from the rain and snow! 🙂
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
At one time – when they were both younger – both Callie & Shadow loved being out in all kinds of weather; but as they got older, Callie became storm anxious (not to the phobic extreme, but still anxious).
Sheba gets anxious when it’s really windy; or thunderstorms (and of course I’d bring her in anyway with one of them coming).
M. K. Clinton says
I agree that this was very interesting. I think Bentley has the dark room sleep down pat. LOL! I will check into that Megga Dog as I like to switch the boys’ oils up too.
I think it’s a good idea anyway to switch up the oils. I’m sure each one has something a little bit different that can be a benefit.
Hound dogs do know how to sleep, don’t they? Cricket has it down to an art! (in fact, right now, I can hear her over on the couch snoring) – LOL!
Two French Bulldogs says
We wanted to add that these supplement suggestions are well worth a try for anyone going through this. Thank you
Lily & Edward
Two French Bulldogs says
We tried everything when our Benny had cancer. Mom cooked him the best meals too
Lily & Edward
I know that your Mom did everything she could for Benny, and that she made him very happy with that special treatment for the time you all had left together. ♥
It’s so hard sorting out all the supplements and vitamins and deciding what is really necessary. Mom has to take vitamin D which surprised her. She figured with all the time she spends outdoors she was covered but it turns out it is rare for humans to get enough vitamin D from the sun. Didn’t even think about dogs.
I believe I have read that about humans and Vitamin D as well. I always try to get some sun directly on my skin for limited times on the days that I can. But I can see where that might not always be enough. I think there is something different with the way dogs absorb it into their systems too; I’d have to look back in the book again to see exactly how it was explained.
easy rider says
that was interesting to read, I had no clue about the 9 dark hours to help the melatonin that it can work… I will read more about this supplements and how we can use it the best…
I believe the same goes for humans too! We don’t get enough sleep, and we have too many electronics in our bedrooms! I think I have actually been sleeping better since we got the TV out of there.