Cancer is such a common disease that many human and veterinary medical practitioners speculate that all organisms die with some form of cancer, even if it is not the primary cause of death. I hold this belief, but I do my best to promote my own health and that of my patients through a holistic approach to disease management.
As my primary business is an integration of western (conventional) and eastern (Chinese) veterinary medicine, I am often called upon to help improve the quality of life of dogs and cats suffering from cancer. In 2010, I started working at the Veterinary Cancer Group in Culver City, CA, so my exposure to patients with many varieties of cancer and the equally extensive range of treatment options has significantly increased.
I have also become familiar with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance and am guest posting the following article sharing their perspective on complementary and alternative treatments for our furry friends.
Mesothelioma in Animals and the Benefits of Holistic Care
When a treasured pet is diagnosed with mesothelioma or any type of terminal illness, our first thoughts turn to how we can save our four-legged friend and/or keep him as comfortable as possible until the inevitable occurs.
Like humans, animals with mesothelioma can benefit from a variety of different types of care. Also, as with humans, each animal responds differently to the chosen treatment regimen. What works for some may not work for others. Nonetheless, many veterinarians stress the benefits of holistic care over conventional treatment in regards to treating animals with all kinds of cancers, including mesothelioma.
The choice to “go holistic” often means turning away from most conventional medical options and choosing instead to proceed with alternative therapies. In some instances, holistic care can also mean dealing with the root cause of an illness and addressing it using both conventional and complementary/alternative therapies.
Where animals are concerned, vets who stress holistic care for pets with mesothelioma point out the need to concentrate on diet, nutrition, and supplements so as to boost the animal’s immune system. Most veterinarians suggest a diet that is very high in protein and rich in enzymes and Omega 3 fatty acids while being low in carbohydrates. Most vets stress that homemade food might be the best bet. Those who deal specifically with dogs or cats who have cancer can explain how to calculate the correct amount of protein, fat, etc. according to the animal’s weight and age and the location of the cancer.
Nutritional supplements can also benefit the animal with mesothelioma just as they might benefit a human with certain health concerns. However, it’s important to know what supplements – including anti-oxidants – might interfere with treatments like chemotherapy. There are indeed supplements available that are specifically designed for animals that are going through cancer treatment or have had tumors in the past and these are often the best choice.
But, holistic care doesn’t have to be limited to what goes in your pet’s mouth. Many veterinarians recommend the use of alternative treatments like acupuncture, which has gained in popularity during the last decade. As with human patients, acupuncture has proven helpful in reducing pain and promoting relaxation. Massage may also benefit the pet dealing with cancer.
No matter which holistic approach the pet owner chooses, veterinarians point out that it is important to understand that – unlike conventional treatments – most holistic therapies are not toxic and will not weaken the animal’s immune system.
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Copyright of this article (2011) is owned by Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr. Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr. Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.