Cancer has become a leading cause of death in dogs, afflicting as many as 50 percent of dogs over ten years of age. Diet is a crucial factor in cancer prevention and it’s never too early to improve it.
The National Cancer Institute says emphatically that many cancers can be prevented by making appropriate lifestyle changes. In fact, National Cancer Institute studies show that 35 percent of all human cancers can be attributed to dietary imbalances. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of all cancers are preventable by lifestyle choices.
It’s no different for your dog. A healthy diet is the first step toward cancer prevention. Simply avoiding toxins is not enough, as it’s important to give your dog the tools to not only dump carcinogens but to also boost the immune system so it can kill any newly created cancer cells.
While you’re reading this, the antioxidants in your dog’s body are countering the destructive forces of free radicals. His immune system is locating and destroying abnormal cells. His genes are making proteins to repair damage done by carcinogens. These natural processes are helping your dog resist cancer.
The power of green
A recent study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University and published in the journal Cancer Prevention, has found that chlorophyll in green vegetables blocks the absorption of intensely carcinogenic aflatoxins (found in many kibbles, especially those containing corn). What this means is that green leafy vegetables and other sources of chlorophyll in your dog’s diet will help prevent this carcinogen and others from even entering the bloodstream.
Ethoxyquin, once a commonly used preservative in dog food, is a carcinogen. Consumer outrage brought about significant changes in the way dog food is manufactured today; when dog owners learned that ethoxyquin could promote cancer they wrote letters to manufacturers and government representatives. Consequently, most pet food manufacturers removed ethoxyquin from dog foods in the early 1990’s. But one little known fact is that fish slated for pet food still contains ethoxyquin. While at sea, boat crews are permitted to add it to fish and fishmeal slated for pet food, to prevent spoilage. This does not have to be disclosed on product labeling.
It bears repeating: a diet filled with cancer preventing foods can help the system dump unexpected carcinogens more quickly.
Food as medicine
Research has proven that proper nutritional support with phytochemicals helps prevent cells from developing into malignant cancerous growths. Phytochemicals are organic compounds found in plants. They both prevent and fight disease and have been used as medicines for millennia. When Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine,” he probably never imagined his words would be proven in scientific laboratories 2,000 years later.
Kale, once snubbed as a boring vegetable, has become a rising star in the field of cancer prevention. The dark, vibrant greens in kale leaves are rich in carotenoids, which travel throughout our pets’ bodies to scavenge free radicals (harmful by-products of cell metabolism in the body) and clean up “after the party.” Kale is also rich in elements that reduce the risk of cancer. In 1992, the first cancer-preventing phytochemical in kale was discovered at John Hopkins School of Medicine. Since then, hundreds of powerful phytochemicals have been found. Scientists have learned that the phytonutrients in kale called glucosinolates, cysteine sulfoxides and sulforaphane will quickly clear carcinogenic substances out of cells. In fact, one study found that animals with cancerous tumors that were fed kale had tumors that were smaller and grew more slowly. This kind of research really hits home.
THE POWER OF PHYTOCHEMICALS
Certain phytochemicals help cells dump carcinogens and toxins much more quickly, thus decreasing the potential for permanent DNA damage
Other phytochemicals support more general cell functions
Some phytochemicals give the immune system a super boost
Broccoli contains compounds that inhabit the effect of carcinogens and boost production of cancer blocking enzymes. Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, bok choi, turnips, rutabagas, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts, all contain
substances that demonstrate the genuine ability to protect your dog from cancer. Other cancer fighting stars are blueberries and raspberries.
The phytonutrients in superfoods work within the body for a much longer time period than vitamins and minerals do. Organically grown fruits and vegetables give the best benefit because they are far richer in minerals and enzymes. They can be fed raw, lightly steamed or grated and mixed in your dog’s food.
Cancer prevention with vitamins
Vitamin D3 has become all the rage, with scientists learning how very important it is for immune function and cancer prevention. Interestingly, Vitamin D3 is a hormone and affects mood. It’s thought that one cause for Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter depression) in people is insufficient Vitamin D3. It’s also now thought that dogs are not getting all the D3 they need. I wonder if perhaps the increase in behavioral disorders such as separation anxiety, along with cancer, can in part be attributed to insufficient active D3. Concentrated food sources of Vitamin D include salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod and eggs.
The new kids on the block are the tocotrienols. Tocotrienols are the lesser-known forms of biologically active vitamin E. They’re powerful antioxidants and anticancer agents. A study published in a 2008 issue of the British Journal of Cancer found that they trigger cancer cell death and block the spread of cancer cells. In another study, published in a 2010 issue of Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers found that tocotrienols also decrease the invasion and spread of cancer cells.
Palm fruit oil contains 46 percent gamma tocotrienols. Palm oil was once prized by the Pharaohs of Egypt as a sacred food. That’s because it’s one of the world’s healthiest oils. It protects against cancer and heart disease, boosts immunity, improves blood sugar control and aids in nutrient, vitamin and mineral absorption. Palm oil also supports healthy liver function and eye, bone and tooth health. In fact, palm oil can affect your pet’s health in so many positive ways it can truly be considered a health tonic.
Palm fruit derives its reddish-orange color from beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. It enhances the body’s defense system by bolstering the development of helper and natural killer cells, increasing the body’s immunity and regenerating cells damaged by infection.
Answers are easily within our reach
The wonder of this planet surrounds us like a shimmering tapestry that endlessly interacts to create and sustain life. This interaction is meticulously planned with numerous support systems placed in strategic positions. I love to think about the beauty of nature and of all of the colors and shapes of the healthy fruits and vegetables we have available to us.
Disease doesn’t happen overnight. The beauty is that we do have answers to disease prevention easily within our reach. The time to start your dog on cancer preventing foods and supplements is right now!
In over 25 years of holistic practice, Dr Khalsa has been incorporating homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutritional advice, allergy-elimination techniques such as NAET and also JMT into her approach. Dr Khalsa is a Fellow and Professor of the British Institute of Homeopathy and developed a cutting edge preventive supplement at Deserving Pets.
by Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM
Holistic look at the Heartworm prevention
A few days ago, one of my friends living in Vermont called me. She was wondering what I thought about heartworm prevention and if I could help her determine, if the monthly administration of heartworm preventive medication is really necessary.
The question threw me back in the 90’s, when the manufacturers of heartworm preventive drugs decided to take North America by storm. I remembered the drug reps visiting vet clinics on a regular basis telling us that it was only a matter of time and heartworm would widely spread in Canada. These visits were also accompanied by a subtle suggestion that selling the heartworm tests and preventive drugs could be a significant source of income for the practice.
As time progressed, the heartworm doom and gloom case scenario didn’t happen and that the risks of heartworm infection in my areas were clearly exaggerated.
On the basis of my findings, I made a decision not to recommend Heartworm preventive drugs in the area practice because the risk was practically zero and administering of any drugs is never optimal. In reality no one can be absolutely certain if down the road preventive medication doesn’t increase the tendency to chronic disease, organ failure or even cancer.
On the other hand, my friend’s situation is quite different because she lives in the Eastern US where heartworm is a real possibility. I saw her question as a great opportunity for me to review the lifecycle of heartworm once again to see if drug companies were honest about their recommendations of monthly prevention. To me, the monthly administration frequency seemed to be kind of peculiar because as far as I know, parasites do not carry an iPhone with a calendar and schedule.
I decided to bring clarity in the current situation to see what the frequency of heartworm preventive drugs really needed to be and also tell you more about the heartworm prevention alternatives that I use with my dog Skai. In order to do so, I need to give you answers to the following questions:
1. Heartworm incidence:
Heartworm life cycle is dependent on temperature that must remain above 57 degrees F (14 C ) for at least 45 days straight and at least 2 weeks of temperatures over 80 F ( If these conditions are not fulfilled, the parasite cycle cannot be completed and your dog is safe.
Based on the recommendations of Dr. David Knight and Dr. James Lok from the American Heartworm society, even with the most cautious conventional medical protocols, all year around heartworm preventive schedule is exaggerated with the exception of Florida, some parts of Texas and Hawaii. According to their conventional opinion, preventive treatment is unnecessary in the winter months and definitely doesn’t need to be started before or after the months noted on the map in their paper.
2. Heartworm life cycle
Before you succumb to the marketing pressure and fear to administer heartworm medicine monthly, I urge you to learn more about the heartworm life cycle. The heartworm development goes through several stages before reaching maturity and it takes 2.5 to 4 months before the tiny stage of microfilaria leaves the muscles and starts settling in the pulmonary artery. When heartworm reaches its final destination of pulmonary artery near the heart, it takes about 3 – 4 months to reach maturity.
One doesn’t need to have a degree in math to figure that it takes somewhere between 5.5 to 8 months for microfilaria to mature into an adult worm and that your dog should be safe if you administer heartworm meds only once every 3 to 4 months if your live in the area where heartworm occurs.
So why would the drug companies recommend monthly heartworm prevention? The reason is clearly identified clearly in the study of Drs. Knight and Lok’s study on page 80 :
“…given what is presently known, continued adherence to a policy of superfluous chemoprophylaxis is disquieting because financial expediency for the veterinarian conflicts with clinical objectivity and client consent is predicated on unrealistic expectations. Clients mistakenly believe that they are purchasing additional protection for their pets, but in reality they are not. If the truth was known to them, few clients would agree to unnecessarily double their expense for heartworm prevention.”
In real language and life translation most vets are too busy to question the recommendations that drug companies give them about heartworm prevention. I strongly believe that the main reason for over recommending heartworm prevention ( chemoprophylaxis ) is that drug companies can double or triple their revenues.
3. Safe alternative to heartworm preventive drugs
My dog Skai and I travel to Hawaii approximately twice a year for 2 months and I had to face the dilemma what to do about heartworm. I never felt totally comfortable about giving him any drugs because in my mind, there is no such thing as a little bit of poison.
Luckily, advances in heartworm testing offers DNA testing on the basis of PCR technology which allows me to test 3 times a year for any presence of heartworm. This test has virtually no false negatives which is great news for your dog.
I can see that these tests are a serious threat to the hefty profits of manufacturers of heartworm meds. They are simply not needed if you follow this formula considering the duration of the heartworm seasons you can find out from the map on page 79
Number of Tests Required
(the last should be done at the end of HW Season)
Less than 4 months
4 – 8 months
8 – 12 months
Consider the facts above, in order to prevent heartworm and keep your dog safe, all you need to do is test your dog if you live in an affected area. If the results are positive (heartworm DNA is present) make sure that you consult your veterinarian before administering any heartworm meds. Heartworm preventive medication can be used only if adult heartworms are NOT present because using preventive drugs on adult heartworm can cause serious problems and a different treatment protocol must be used.
I regret to say that similar to the vaccination scam, monthly heartworm prevention is yet another dishonest marketing plot. What I am confused about is why drug companies continuously try to trick us and frighten us instead making a living the honest way. No matter what they are planning to try next, I believe that eventually they will have to become more honest in order to survive because it is much more difficult to hide the truth in the age of World Wide Web.
Wishing you a happy, more informed heartworm season.
Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM