When your pet has cancer, understanding all your care options is extremely important, so we have compiled your most frequently received questions about integrative oncology at Meridian Veterinary Care. Here are our answers.
Question: My pet has cancer—are chemotherapy and radiation the only options?
Answer: No—at Meridian Veterinary Care, we believe that your pet will have a more comfortable and successful outcome with our customized combination of Western and non-traditional therapies.
Conventional veterinary cancer treatment focuses on removing, shrinking, or destroying cancer cells, and limiting disease progression through chemotherapy and radiation. And, while these treatments can be effective and necessary, they often come with a cost, because the same power that takes down cancer cells can lead to organ damage, toxic side effects, and a weakened immune system.
Integrative oncology is a treatment approach that cares for the whole pet using traditional and evidence-informed alternative therapies—by treating the cancer and supporting overall wellness, managing pain, and keeping a keen eye on quality of life.
Q: How can integrative oncology help my pet?
A: Each pet’s cancer journey is unique, and so is their treatment plan. When your pet is diagnosed with cancer, your Meridian Veterinary Care veterinarian will review their results, prognosis, and possible treatment outcomes. Based on your personal beliefs and goals, we’ll help you select the best course of action for your pet—whether you want to pursue every available treatment or simply keep them comfortable and pain-free.
No matter what you decide, integrative oncology can help your pet experience an improved quality of life by focusing on the following pillars:
- Pain control — Many cancers can cause immense pain, so we’ll teach you how to monitor your pet’s pain levels and provide pain-relief with options such as medication, acupuncture, and herbal supplements.
- Clinical sign management — As with human patients, pet cancer treatment side effects can be more immediately challenging than the disease itself. We carefully manage inappetence, nausea, and diarrhea with an array of traditional, nutritional, and alternative remedies.
- Immune health support — We fortify your pet’s immune system with proper nutrition, supplements, and free-radical reducing therapy to help them feel better and resist secondary illnesses.
- Cancer reduction — With or without conventional treatments (e.g., surgery, chemotherapy, radiation), we can strengthen your pet’s overall health so their body is less hospitable to illness.
- Lifestyle modifications — Based on their cancer type, pets may benefit from at-home changes, including pet ramps, low-impact exercise or shorter exercise sessions, indoor elimination area (e.g., potty pads), and a special diet.
Q: What therapies do you offer for pets with cancer?
A: In addition to referrals for specialized treatment (i.e., radiation, some chemotherapy types), we offer the following therapeutic options:
- Nutrition counseling — Pets with cancer benefit from a diet that’s free from preservatives and chemicals, low in carbohydrates, high in fats and fresh whole proteins, and rich in free radical-fighting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Our veterinarians can design a customized meal plan for your pet.
- Herbal medicine — Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help balance your pet’s internal systems and alleviate treatment-related side effects. However, herbal medicine is not a replacement for conventional cancer treatment.
- Ozone therapy — Increasing the oxygen level in your pet’s tissues has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, improves circulation, and may inhibit some cancer cell types. Ozone therapy is an incredibly safe therapeutic option for a wide array of illnesses, including viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, with virtually no known side effects. For more information on our use of ozone therapy, check out our previous post.
- Intravenous (IV) vitamin C — Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that acts on cancer cells, detoxifies damaged tissues, stimulates the immune system, and helps distribute other vitamins and minerals throughout the body. We administer vitamin C therapy through an IV catheter during an outpatient appointment.
- Acupuncture — Acupuncture, which stimulates serotonin release, is a helpful therapy for reducing not only cancer pain but also treatment-related and cancer-related side effects, increasing immune health, and improving circulation. Many pets find acupuncture relaxing and fall asleep during their session.
Q: My pet’s cancer is not responding to treatment—what can I do?
A: Over time, many once-responsive cancers outsmart their treatment protocols—both conventional and non-traditional—and pets come out of remission. Other cancers have spread to vital organs, the lymphatic system, or the blood before being diagnosed. If your pet is no longer responding to their treatment or their prognosis is poor or grave, you may need to look closely at their quality of life. Our compassionate veterinarians can counsel you about palliative and end-of-life care, which can include many of the above therapies. Thoughtful planning can help make your pet’s final months, weeks, or days more comfortable and enjoyable. Schedule a consultation at Meridian Veterinary Care to explore your pet’s options.
Caring for a pet with cancer can be overwhelming—but you don’t have to do it alone. Contact the compassionate Meridian Veterinary Care team to schedule an integrative oncology consultation and explore all our potential care options for your beloved pet.