November 5, 2013

Give Cancer the Paw: 8 Ways We Try to Prevent Cancer

Welcome to the inaugural hop for Give Cancer the Paw. Thank you for joining Rita and me and our lovely co-hosts, Peggy and her pups Kelly & Ike from Peggy's Pet Place. We wanted to start today because November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month. We want this hop to be about spreading awareness, support and hope!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of things I could write about when it comes to cancer in our pets so I had a hard time deciding, but I thought I'd start with sharing an important topic: things we do to try to keep Rita from getting cancer.

Note that I'm not a vet or a doctor or an oncologist. These are things we do based on research done over the years or habits we've gotten in to. Who knows if they'll work. Here's hopin'. I've divided the list of our 8 ways we try to prevent cancer into 7 things you probably do too, and 1 that I'm guessing you don't!

Seven things we do to Give Cancer the Paw, that you probably do to:
Waiting her her I and Love and You to rehydrate
1. Feed a good diet: Whole books could be written on this, and some folks can get quite hot-under-the-collar about this topic, so I'm not going to go into it too much, but basically we feed Rita high-quality, grain-free food. We also mostly look for grain-free treats. Cancer thrives on simple carbohydrates. (But oatmeal and brown rice are thought to be okay and cancer-fighting.)* 

2. Drink good water: when my friend's dad passed away from cancer, his oncologist told my friend to pay careful attention to the water she and her family drank. Ever since then, we've been drinking filtered water, and so does our dog. 

"Does this angle make my butt look big?"
3. Maintain a healthy weight: "Obesity is a major risk factor for developing cancer." (If you Google obesity and cancer you can find lots of info.) In addition to keeping an eye on what Rita eats, we make sure she gets exercise each day. It's all about calories in/calories out.


4. Get good sleep: We don't take melatonin supplements (and neither does Rita), but we do try to get a decent amount of sleep in a nice, dark room. The hormone melatonin is thought to be an important part of the body's natural cancer-fighting system.*
"Let's hit the hay! I need my melatonin."

Bailey, snuggling on our cancer-coated couch
5. Limit exposure to chemicals: Back when we had our beagle, Bailey, I was pretty stupid. We bought new carpeting and new couches, and opted for the stain-fighting coatings on each. I later learned that those coatings can be cancer-causing -- not great when your dog's nose is right there on that stuff for a good chunk of each day. So, now we have hardwood floors, which I only clean with water and maybe some vinegar (no more Swiffer chemical-cleaner for this girl!), and our new sofa came coating-free accompanied only by a green spot-cleaner. We no longer spray outside for ants, and we never use air fresheners or dryer sheets. 

I admit we do still use a topical flea killer on Rita, but I only give it to her every three months. Fleas are BAD here in So Cal, since it never freezes, and I'm very allergic to the bites. But I do try to limit Rita's exposure by only giving the treatment every 3 months. (Our old vet told us that the flea treatment works for 3 months, but the companies tell you to use it every month because the tick treatment only lasts 1 month. Since ticks aren't bad here - as long as you don't go off-trail while hiking - we don't worry much about the tick fighting.)

6. Supplements: Okay, I confess I've been bad about this part recently, but for a while we were giving Rita a bit of coconut oil with her food, as it has many health properties, which include possibly reducing the risk of cancer. (According to the article cited, you can give 1 Tablespoon/30lbs of dog, but I never give 44lb-Rita more than a tablespoon.) Anyway, writing this up has reminded me that we need to start giving it to her again. We'll start slowly and build up to the 1T. 

7. Limit stress: Everyone knows that many studies link stress with cancer. Rita is a worrywart (like her Momma) and afraid of many things, but we're working on exposing her to things more so that she doesn't have so many fears. Fewer fears = less stress = (hopefully) less cancer risk.

And 1 thing we do that you probably don't:
Okay, so here's the one kinda unusual thing we do to hopefully keep cancer from taking hold - in ourselves and in Rita. We take artemisinin for a few days of each month. Ever heard of it? 

When Abby had cancer, I did a lot of research on artemisinin - an herb (wormwood extract) that has been used for ages as a malaria-fighter (like, thousands of years in China), and is known to have a low toxicity level. I could write a lot about this. I wrote a blog post about how we used it to help fight Abby's cancer here, and there's more info here (this is a good cancer prevention article in general for pups) about taking it as a preventative. It has not been studied as a preventative, but Dr. Lai from the Univ. of Washington (one of the experts on its use in treating dogs with cancer) takes it, so we figured what the heck, we'll try it too. Who knows if it will work, but we're giving it a shot. Check back with me in a decade or two. I'm not necessarily saying you should do this too - but, if you are interested I would suggest doing some research, and I'm happy to answer any questions.

* From Dr. Dressler's "The Dog Cancer Survival Guide" (which I think is a nice overview book of cancer in dogs with lots of info about both traditional and holistic treatments).

Hope you've found this helpful and hope you'll join us in the hop!
Remember, you can write about whatever pet-cancer-related topic you want: a tribute, info on treatments or research, a cancer walk you participated in, or a support post for a furry family member or fuzzy friend!

54 comments:

  1. Great tips. There are so many things we did in the past that now we know better and wish we could do differently (toxins). Good points about diet and supplements - obviously we are all over that stuff as well as exercise and de-stress. Love this Hop and look forward to reading everyone's posts.

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    1. Yes, if only we'd known better about the toxins. I'm enjoying reading everyone's posts. There's so much info to share, and everyone's posts makes me think of additional things I could write about!

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  2. I think all of your tips are great Jackie. I had never heard of number 8 before though. I stumbled across wormwood in a google search a few weeks ago... I was looking up absinthe (those #nipclub peeps party hard) and I think that's what they said the main ingredient was that made people crazy or something lol. I could be wrong though!

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    1. Funny about the #nipclub peeps. I seem to remember reading that there are various extracts from wormwood, so i would think it's not the same thing?? If we go crazy though... you heard it here first. :)

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  3. Those are all great tips. I think that we humans should live by them to prevent disease too!

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    1. Yep, we do most of those as well - except for the grain-free thing. We try to do whole grains mostly, but I can't give up pasta!!

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  4. We agree those are great tips and it is a hard subject as we have lost many furends to the dreadful C.
    Have a wonderful Wednesday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. We hate the dreaded C. It is definitely a hard subject.

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  5. Great tips, Jackie! I would add to #3 - no plastic food or water bowls. I've had a dog with mouth cancer and subscribe to: better safe than sorry. Thanks so much for creating this blog hop!

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    1. That's a good point about the no-plastic rule. Thanks for adding that one!

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  6. Great list. About the only two I don't do are the wormwood and the coconut oil (although I do regularly cook with coconut oil). :-)

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    1. I'm pretty sure we are going to be the only ones doing the artemisinin thing. It's not at all common, I'm sure! It's not even a fully-studied thing as a preventative, but after doing a lot of research about it, I thought it made sense to try - especially since the Dr. that is an expert on it is doing it himself.

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  7. Well. I must be doing pretty good. I do all the things but the last one. I will have to look into that supplement. I had a friend years ago that fed her dog only people food. The dog got cancer at a very early age. Her vet told her it was from the people food diet. Have you ever heard of that?

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    1. Huh. No, I never heard of that before. I wonder if she over-fed the dog people food? Because to me, there's not *really* a divide between people food and dog food - in theory, we should be eating the same things (good proteins, veggies, whole grains). Of course, it's when you get into the Cheetos and Oreos that "people" food needs to kept away from dogs. :)

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  8. Thank you for sharing about artemisinin - I will order some and add it to our dogs' diet. Thank you.

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    1. You might want to read the other post I wrote about it as I talk about the best sources for buying it there.

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  9. Those are all so great, Jackie, and I think we do them all except for #8 which I never heard of. I'd like to learn more about it for sure. When our first dog died of lymphoma we often felt bad because we fed her cheap dog food, not knowing any better at the time.
    We've started the coconut oil recently too, but Sheba is the only one that likes it. I need to start adding it to homemade treats to get it into the beagles.
    My husband sometimes thinks I'm a bit nuts because I'm so anti-chemical everything. I never thought about the anti-stain chemicals on furniture but we don't do that anymore anyway! We've switched over to all natural cleaners too.

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    1. Yes, so many folks don't know better and feed the cheap food. When I first started researching dog foods it was pretty gross to find out that a lot of companies use meat sources that are rejected for human consumption. If a human can't eat it, I don't want my dog to eat it!

      That's funny that Sheba is the only one that likes the coconut oil. Most dogs
      love it!

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  10. Great tips. We just started grain free because of Ike's itchiness and possible allergies, but glad to know it could help fight cancer as well. We also use topical flea and tick treatments because Kelly and one of our previous dogs got Lyme disease and we don't want to go through that again. Ike also had Lyme when he came to us. I'm just starting to look into supplements as well but haven't started them.

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    1. Well, it will be a double-bonus if the grain free food helps the allergies and helps keep cancer at bay too! (Darn... just occurred to me that Keep Cancer at Bay would have been a cute name for the hop too.... Could have had a pic of a beagle baying... Oh well. I still love "Give Cancer the Paw"!)

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  11. What great tips! Thank you for sharing all of them:)

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    1. here's hoping our pups don't get the dreaded C!!

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  12. This post was super helpful, we've never heard of artemisinin, will have to check it out!

    I make sure to get my coconut oil every day, Mum is using Jojoba oil as her moisturizer right now (she's become allergic to everything else), and the second she gets it out I stand there and try to lick it off her legs, we have a deal, I'll stop licking if she instead hands over some coconut oil for me to eat! It's SO delicious! :)

    Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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    1. You're so funny, Snoopy. Great way to make sure mum gives you the coconut oil! :)

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  13. Great tips in here Jackie, thanks so much for sharing them. I recently ordered a HUGE jar of coconut oil online and am waiting for it to arrive. We too filter our water and work toward as close to a grain free diet as possible.

    It seems like you and I are very similar in our thinking, although I have not heart of artemisinin, but you can bet I'll be checking that out with my doctor at the next visit!

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    1. I wonder if your doc will have heard of it. I don't think it's very common. I first learned of it when Abby had cancer - many folks on the Bone Cancer Dogs Yahoo group were using it. There's a separate Yahoo group "cancer_and_dogs" and a lot of the folks there have done a lot of research on arte. That's where we figured out the dosing and such when Abby was sick.

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  14. Very interesting post. Mom is also very anti chemical, which kinda drives Dad nuts sometimes. She started putting coconut oil on my food to help with my itchies. We all love it so it goes on all three of our dinners.
    hugs
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Greta

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    1. That would be great if the coconut oil helps with the itchies and can be a cancer preventative. It has so many great potential uses!

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  15. Wormwood shouldn't be administered routinely but the extract is entirely different.

    Seaweed and seaweed extracts have been studied extensively in the treatment and prevention of cancer in humans and animals. The research has been very promising and is summarized here:
    http://allnaturalpetcare.com/blog/2013/05/25/science-supports-seaweed-pet-cancer-prevention-treatment/

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    1. Thanks for clearing that up - yes, artemisinin is wormwood *extract*, not to be confused w/ straight wormwood.

      I've heard that about seaweed - Rita loves kelp snacks!

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  16. YAY to your tips - we use coconut oil as of 2 months ago, take Omega oils to prevent anything, and we do lots of exercise, mind games, sleep right, and I switched from flea preventative topicals to human grade DE. I just feel safer.

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    1. I've heard that about human grade DE. I've been afraid to switch because fleas are SO bad here.

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  17. Great post! I haven't read all the comments so this might be a repeat, but avoid lawn chemicals. They are a proven cause of cancer in dogs.

    The filtered water is a great tip! My coworker's cat died of cancer and her oncologist said that (in his opinion) serving your pet filtered water is the #1 thing you should do to help avoid cancers.

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    1. Luckily we have no lawn, so no lawn chemicals. So bad for pups since they are out there with their noses right in it!

      That's interesting about your friend's oncologist - and confirms what my friend's dad's onc said!

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  18. Over the years we have had over 20 lumps in my various dogs and have them aspirated at teeth cleaning time when those wonderful words "fatty" and "benign" are spoken. But it's the one we ignore that might cause the big problem.

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    1. "B9" is what we always like to hear!! And let's hear it for those fatty lumps!

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  19. Very interesting. I'm considering seeing a naturopath that a friend recommended. Her husband was told he has parasites and was given wormwood for a few weeks to flush them out. Huh.

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    1. I wonder if that's the same thing? I just looked it up again and artemisinin comes specifically from "sweet wormwood" extract, so I don't know if there's a difference between "sweet wormwood" and straight up "wormwood." Maybe there's a savory wormwood too. :)

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  20. Yeah! Great Post! Bone Cancer is so stinky :( I'm sorry you lost your Abby so young. It's such good information to spread though, I knew nothing about osteosarcoma until Jill got it!....or any pet cancers to be exact!

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    1. Bone cancer IS stinky! It sucks to have to learn about these things when your pet gets them. :(

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  21. All great suggestions! We're doing almost all of these, although not #2 (or 8). I would LIKE to start filtering our water, though. There are so many filters/types of filters out there... it's hard to know which to use. I guess any of them would be better than nothing at all, of course. Would you mind sharing what kind of filter you use?

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    1. It's true - there are a lot of them out there. We used to just use a Brita - which is probably not the best one out there, but it was easy and we are lazy, and I figured it was better than nothing. When we moved to our new house, we lucked out cuz the folks who lived here before us had put in a reverse osmosis system. I've heard they are pretty pricey to install, but my friend (the one whose dad's onc told her to be careful about the water) did a lot of research on it and ended up also putting in an RO system. She seemed to think it was the best thing and worth the money - but I have no idea how much one costs to install. I'm just happy we get the benefits of it. :)

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  22. Great post, Jackie! I can't say that I do all of those things you listed; but I do my best to limit my girls' exposure to the really bad stuff. Hubby has hissy fits whenever I "bitch" about the fire ant stuff...he buys into all the BS about those things being safe. So, I just keep the dogs out of the yard for as many hours as I can after he puts it down. It's not easy keeping us all healthy when one has fits over some of the ways I try. :-(

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    1. I think it would be impossible to limit their exposure to everything. (After all, even just going for walks, who knows what the heck they're sniffing up?) But like you said, all you can do is your best to limit the exposure. Keeping them inside for as long as possible after he puts it down is probably the best you can hope for. Since I was the one in charge of spraying for the ants (and also the one in charge of killing them if they got in!) I could make my own decision about not spraying anymore.

      Thanks for stopping by the hop!

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  23. Excellent tips! We do some of those things but not everything. Congratulations on your new blog hop.

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully some folks will find some new things here that they can consider. I think every little bit that we do helps!

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  24. We don't use flea prevention every month either. It won't last quite 3 months, but the last time I had to use it, it had been 9 weeks and one bath in between. I'm guessing that the 2nd bath at 8 weeks is what weakened it, so that they started scratching. I go by them and not by any time-table on a calendar. We're on a limited vaccination protocol. They also get coconut oil every day; we feed grain-free raw; and I veer from prey model by feeding them puree made from raw red, yellow and green vegetables and fruits. I veer because the fruits and vegetables contain fresh antioxidants that you can't get from any pills. They also get digestive enzymes to help get everything possible from their food. Some might think I go overboard, but after having 3 dogs in a row with cancer (2 with same type) I'm sick of it, and I'll do everything I can think of to keep these 2 around longer.

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    1. I'm so sorry your last 3 dogs had cancer - and 2 with the same type would also make me go "overboard."

      Our last two also had cancer. But the 2nd one was only 15 months old when she got bone cancer. We had already started doing a lot of this stuff then, but the onc. said when cancer is in a young pup like that, there's nothing you can do. It's just a genetic anomaly. So, sometimes you do what you can and still get screwed. :|

      But I hear you on doing what you can and wondering if others think you go overboard. I'm sure some folks will think it's nutty that we take artemisinin, but again - I'm trying to do what I can to not go through this again! Or at least not until Rita is really really really old!!

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  25. Interesting information. I think genetics also plays a role. Probably more then anything else. They are doing some promising studies. Hopefully someday they will have a more complete picture of causes and treatments.

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    1. Yes, with our last pup it was a genetic anomaly. Our onc said there was nothing we could have done really - when a puppy gets cancer (similar to a kid getting it), there's no outside cause to blame. The co. my hubs works for makes the equipment researchers use to study DNA. There's a lot of work going on looking at specific genes related to cancer.

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  26. Great tips! Have you ever heard of Haelen 951? I think I spelled it right. It is a cancer drug that boosts the immune system 750%. It is also a preventative for all kinds of stuff. I started taking it after our dog fight to help with the healing of my forehead. There was a horse that had cancer that they started him on this stuff and he has no more cancer. It is expensive but probably worth it. I'm going to have to do a post on it and more research! Just thought I would mention it.

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    1. Gosh, I never heard of that. I'll have to look it up. Thanks for telling me about it. Yes, you could do a post on it! :)

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  27. Great post, Jackie! We've had several dogs with cancer and it's a terrible thing. I've heard of artemisinin, but never knew it could be used as a preventative. Stress is the biggie we need to work on around here. The more health issues and trips to the vet Wrigs has to deal with, the higher his stress levels, which in turn can lead to even more health issues.

    Susan and Wrigs

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    1. Well, no one has really studied it yet as a preventative, but the researcher studying it as a treatment is taking it as a preventative, so we made an informed decision to try it ourselves. Who knows if it will work - but I figured what the heck. I'm out to keep Rita around for a LONG time. Karma owes us after taking our last dog way too young!

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