More and more dogs are becoming cancer survivors because their owners are doing their holistic homework. Here, Drs. Richard Pitcairn, Cheryl Schwartz, and Bob Goldstein provide nine at-home preventive strategies to help guard your pet against cancer:
- Provide only pure water. Tap water can contain chemicals such as lead, arsenic, and nitrates. Holistic vets strongly advise using a good-quality water purifier to filter your tap water. If you decide to buy a water purifier, keep in mind that although initially costlier than bottled water, it is much cheaper in the long run, costing only pennies a gallon, says Dr. Pitcairn. You may also decide to use bottled or distilled water. Pure water flushes toxins from the body and contributes to the feeling of well-being, says Dr. Goldstein.
Avoid contaminated water. Keep your pet away from street puddles, which can contain cancer-causing toxins such as hydrocarbons and asbestos dust from brakes.
- If your pet already has cancer, avoid all vaccinations. Vaccinations can stress your pet’s immune system. For cancer patients, at the very least, avoid vaccinations during treatment because they may counteract any positive and immune-enhancing effects of your home-support program, says Dr. Goldstein. Ask your vet about the homeopathic remedy Thuja occidentalis 30C, which may remove the immune-suppressing effects of vaccinations.
- Avoid indoor pollution. Keep your pet away from cigarette smoke. Studies show that secondhand smoke contains hundreds of toxic chemicals that can cause lung cancer in humans. Research also shows a strong correlation between secondhand smoke and oral cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) in cats. In dogs it’s associated with nasal sinus cancer, and even lymphoma, although the connection is weaker. The more people who smoke around a pet, the more at risk the animal is.
Ventilate your house well to reduce indoor air pollution. Grow houseplants that filter the air, such as philodendrons, spider plants, aloe vera, chrysanthemums, and gerbera daisies, but keep the plants out of your pets’ reach. Don’t use harsh chemicals such as pesticides and household cleaners around the house. Seek out natural products, such as vinegar and baking soda.
- Keep your dog’s weight under control. Obese dogs are prone not only to cancer but heart ailments, joint problems, diabetes, breathing difficulties, and more. Ask your vet what a healthy weight for your dog should be and strive to achieve it. Feed your dog a healthy diet free from artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, and dyes. A healthy, balanced diet supports your dog’s natural defenses against cancer.
- Use natural flea products on your dog.Did you know that flea collars, sprays, and shampoos are full of poisons? Instead of chemical insecticides, use natural and less-toxic methods of flea control such as natural flea shampoos, vacuuming frequently, and combing your pet with a flea comb. Pyrethrins are a natural and safe means of flea control, but need to be applied frequently. D-limonen and other citrus-based methods can be used in dogs, however, avoid D-limonen in cats, as it is toxic to them. Putting borates, salt, or diatomaceous earth into carpet or cracks between the wall and floor is effective for indoor flea control.
- Do not allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup truck.Along with the danger of being thrown out of the truck, your pet will be susceptible to inhaling toxic car fumes and smog. Let your dog get fresh air either by way of a park, beach, or your backyard.
- Keep your dog away from pesticides and herbicides on lawns and plants.A report by the National Cancer Institute found that dogs whose owners used weed-killing products containing 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyzcetic Acid) had twice the rate of lymphoma as dogs whose owners did not use it. Cocoa mulch is also dangerous to dogs.
Stay clear of house and garden pesticides. Get rid of pesky insects naturally or seek out the least-toxic products. There are also nontoxic, organic products available.
- Keep your pet stress-free.Stress is emotional imbalance caused by anger, frustration, or anxiety. These emotions overwork the liver, where they can stagnate and create tumors, according to Dr. Schwartz.
High anxiety in pets happens for a variety of reasons: neglect, a multiple animal household, an owner going away on vacation, or an owner going through a divorce. Whatever triggers stress in your dog, tune in and help your pet chill out.
Try some de-stressing methods such as: maintaining a regular pet routine (including feeding times and playtimes); massaging your pet; being in tune to your pet’s needs; looking for stress signals (from appetite changes to excessive barking); keeping peace in a multipet household; and providing tender loving care.
- Exercise your dog on a regular basis.Research shows that canine fitness not only strengthens immunity to chronic disease such as cancer, but is also essential for optimal health and well-being.
Sustained, vigorous use of the muscles stimulates all tissues and increases blood circulation. Blood vessels dilate and blood pressure rises. As a result, tissues become oxygenated, which helps to clean the cells of toxins. Digestive glands secrete their fluids better, and the bowels move more easily, says Dr. Pitcairn.
Some activities that you can enjoy with your pooch to get fit together are bicycling, hiking, jogging, in-line skating, and walking (at least 20 minutes a day). Your dog also will enjoy the bonding time he gets with you!
Reprinted fromThe Essential Guide to Natural Pet Care for Cats & Dogs: Cancer© 1998. Updated May 2008. Permission granted by BowTie Press.