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Don't Let Cancer Strike Your Pet

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Supplements, homeopathy and a change in diet could saveyour petâ??s life. No pet owner wants to think of that hard-to-say "c-word"-cancer-when it comes to their favourite animal.

No pet owner wants to think of that hard-to-say "c-word"–cancer–when it comes to their favourite animal. Who wants to find a tumour on a cuddly dog or lap-loving cat? Yet cancer stands as the leading cause of death in both dogs and cats.

However, with early detection, alternative treatments and state-of-the-art technology available to today’s veterinarians, your pet’s cancer diagnosis does not have to mean a death sentence. In fact, a change in your own habits could go a long way in saving your pet’s life.

Your Habits Could Cause Your Pet’s Cancer

Veterinarians now realize that annual vaccinations of cats and dogs are unnecessary and contribute to a rise in cancer rates. Of prime concern is the vaccine for feline leukemia virus. Evidence since 1991 shows that the incidence of skin sarcomas (tumours) of cats at vaccination sites is increasing. These sarcomas typically develop three months to three years
after vaccination. If left untreated, the prognosis is poor, since the tumour can quickly spread. Many veterinarians and veterinary colleges now suggest that pets receive annual titers (blood tests) to see if they need revaccination.

Meanwhile, pet owners who smoke put their animals at risk through second-hand smoke. A 1998 study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found an increased risk of nasal and lung cancer in dogs exposed to second-hand smoke. In a 2002 cat study at Tufts University, researcher Anthony Moore states, "The results of our study indicate that exposure to environmental factors such as second-hand tobacco smoke has devastating consequences for cats because it significantly increased their likelihood of contracting lymphoma."

Fortunately, great advances in both detection and treatment of pet cancer have evolved over the years. Along with biopsies, veterinarians now use radiographs (X-rays), computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose cancer, just as they do for human patients.

How to Keep Your Pet Cancer Free

To prevent cancer in your pet, provide a healthy diet of either homemade or commercial pet food that contains human-grade ingredients. A daily vitamin-mineral supplement is also recommended.

US clinical trials suggest that 74.7 percent of common diseases in dogs and 63 percent of common diseases in cats can be eliminated without medical intervention in a year with proper diet modifications and an understanding of the healing process, says veterinarian William Pollak. In his words: "Poor fuel makes for little momentum in life. Approaching disease from the
perspective of health is the most powerful means of eliminating disease."

In addition, spaying and neutering can reduce the risk of mammary cancer in females and testicular cancer in males.

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that you seek veterinary attention if your pet displays such symptoms as;

  • abnormal swelling that continues to grow
  • sores that do not heal
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty eating or swallowing
  • loss of energy
  • difficulty urinating or defecating
  • loss of appetite or weight loss
  • bleeding or discharge from any body opening (mouth, nose, urinary
    tract, vagina or rectum)
  • lameness or stiff movement

Seek Alternative Therapies

If your pet is diagnosed with cancer, I highly recommend the book Why Is Cancer Killing Our Pets? by Deborah Straw. Before treating your pet with any herbal preparation or supplement, check with your wholistic veterinarian as these treatments might interfere with others that your pet receives.

A wholistic veterinarian can use alternative therapies on your cat or dog, although they have not been shown to cure cancers. Acupuncture, massage, reiki and the massage technique Tellington Touch can relieve the pain of the disease and comfort your pet.

You can use herbs along with conventional forms of treatment. When my Newfoundland dog had a diagnosis of bladder cancer with one month left to live, I chose a combination of four herbs–burdock root, rhubarb root, sorrel and slippery elm bark–that supported his immune system. Charlie survived pain-free for six more months. Garlic, green tea, shark cartilage, turmeric,
pau d’arco, milk thistle and medicinal reishi mushrooms are some other herbal supplements that wholistic veterinarians recommend.

Veterinarian Susan Wynn suggests that some supplements can prevent or reduce the incidence of cancer in pets. Fish oil or other omega-3 fatty acids appear to reduce metastasis (spread of disease within the body) and enhance immune function. Vitamin A also enhances the immune system and might prevent some forms of cancer. Like vitamins A and E, vitamin C might enhance the effects of conventional therapy and reduce toxicity. Evidence in the study
of epidemic diseases suggests that vitamin E prevents cancer, though research has not yet confirmed this. Selenium might reduce the effects of chemotherapy and is strongly associated with a decreased risk of cancer.

Independent laboratories in the US have found that the use of supplements makes natural killer cells more than 248 percent more effective in bombarding live cancer cells, according to veterinarian Charles Brown. He says: “We have a great number of veterinarians and clients who are experiencing very positive results in a broad area of disorders." Richard Bennett, an infectious disease microbiologist and immunologist in the US, says: "This [a] could be the most significant development in animal health care in decades."

Homeopathy is another excellent alternative to conventional cancer treatment and is often used to extend the lives of animals with only a short time to live. One particular herb, Chinese astragalus, stimulates the immune system and can be used on a daily basis. Ganoderma mushrooms, which appear to stop the spread of some tumours, also help the body adapt to stress and strengthen the immune system.

Veterinarians now realize that annual vaccinations of cats and dogs are unnecessary and contribute to a rise in cancer rates. Of prime concern is the vaccine for feline leukemia virus.

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