Taking Refuge Among Canine cancer Education
This page is dedicated to, Trace, my Siberian Husky who was diagnosed with a high grade mast cell tumor in early 2014. As you can see by my cheesy acronym above, I was inspired by him, and tried my best to be creative – I think it sends the right message. TRACE is simply the name of this page and NOT an organization or group. In memory of his noble, gentle spirit, knowing he will always be running in the wind and dancing in our hearts, we love you, Trace!
For anyone who has ever had a family dog diagnosed with cancer, you can appreciate the long process of taking care of a four-legged family member with an unknown future. My heart goes out to you! The entire process is scary but you don’t have to do it alone and you can educate yourself by doing your research to make the best choices for your dog.
I have found that there is a spectrum of thought and emotion throughout the process, ranging from the initial surprise of finding that lump or bump to getting the confirmation from the vet about diagnosis to doing surgery to doing treatment and ultimately, in many cases, making the most difficult decision about what is best for your dog.
This process entails stress about money, time, and energy. It also includes hearing from other people and their opinions about what you should do – you will agree with some and disagree with many. The bottom line is that YOU are the best advocate for your dog, regardless of what others tell you. And what comes with that is also doing what is best for the dog, NOT you.
Below you will find a plethora of information about where to find resources on canine cancer, common treatment options, and alternative approaches to healing. Selfishly, I focus mostly on mast cell tumors but I will try to include resources on other types of canine cancers.
In your “search for answers”, you will quickly find two distinct approaches to animal (and human) treatment of illness. Many times it gets political so if you find yourself somewhere in the middle, you will need to adopt a flexible mind with the varying approaches. For instance, the ever-evolving conflict between scientific approaches vs. ‘all-natural’ or homeopathic approaches comes up all the time in animal health, especially when it comes to cancer. *Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian or doctor and the links provided below are presented merely for information purposes. If you have a dog who has cancer, I strongly recommend consulting with your vet about all the various treatment options.
Trace’s Story: The ‘Trace’ of My Heart
This is a series of posts I wrote, simply documenting the process of finding out about Trace’s mast cell tumor and the process of managing that experience.
Mast Cell Tumors
The Multifaceted Roles of Mast Cells in Cancer
Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs – Michigan State University
Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs – Colorado State University
Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs – Washington State University
Video Graphic of Mast Cell
Dr. Karen Becker on mast cell tumors
Dr. Mona Rosenburg on mast cell tumors
Mast Cell Tumor Surgery [GRAPHIC]
National Canine Cancer Foundation – Mast Cell Tumors
Pre- and Post-Surgery Options
In pretty much all cases of mast cells tumors a biopsy will need to be done. This usually includes blood work and aspirates as well as sending off the tumor and surrounding tissue if surgery is elected. Depending on how complicated your dog’s tumor is, you may consider seeking out a board surgeon who specializes in the area if you choose to have surgery done. Check out who is in your area: American College of Veterinary Surgeons.
Most vets will send the tumor/tissue//lymph node/blood work to a lab they prefer or are used to working with. Do not be afraid to ask your vet to tell you where that is and the quality of their services. As stated above, you are the best advocate for your dog. This also means that you are allowed to request the tumor/sample to be sent to a lab of your choice. DO YOUR RESEARCH! This is not to say that vets don’t send to good labs, but many vet offices aren’t always up to speed on the latest and greatest in diagnostic services.
If your dog in particular has been diagnosed with a mast cell tumor, I would HIGHLY recommend having the surgeon send the tumor to Michigan State University’s Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health. All you need to do is have that conversation with your surgeon prior to surgery and refer them to this submittal form. Definitely elect to have the c-kit analysis. MSU is one of the leading institutions in diagnostic services, in particular, on analyzing the c-kit gene in mast cells. It is pricey but very worth it. Another viable option could be Colorado State University who also does similar testing.
Clinical Treatment of Mast Cell Tumors
Targeted Drug therapies
Palladia (Toceranib) | More on Palladia
Diet and Supplements
I proudly recommend feeding your dog a raw diet, regardless of illness. Fresh, raw meat and uncooked bones along with fresh raw organs (eg, liver, spleen, etc.) provide a species-appropriate diet that does not include species-inappropriate fillers such as grains, starches, and other sugars that the animal would not otherwise eat in a natural setting.
In addition to a species-appropriate diet, there are tons of supplemental programs for dogs who need the extra punch to fight cancer. The list below is a sample so keep Google busy and take your time researching:
Budwig Protocol (see also Barlean’s)
Traditional Chinese Herbs
Filling in the Holes