Of the approximately 98 million dogs and cats in the United States, the Animal Cancer Foundation estimates that 12 million new cases of cancer in pets are diagnosed every year. With one in every eight pets running the risk of cancer, the likelihood of any given pet family being affected by cancer is fairly high.

A pet’s cancer treatment doesn’t start with setting up chemotherapy, or completely abandoning conventional medicine to seek out only traditional methods as soon as the diagnosis is made. It begins with pet owner’s ability to make well-informed, sound decisions for the pet’s care.

A key element for a pet’s survival and quality of life is based on the pet guardian’s ability to deal with emotions. Better decisions and the ability to determine which treatments may be beneficial are best made when the mind is clear.

Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, massage or a simple walk in the park does as much for an owner as it does for the pet. We need to remember that a pet’s acute sense of smell can pick up on their owner’s state of mind. If we are stressed, they will sense that. Interacting with other pet owners dealing with the same situation can help. One suggestion is to join a Facebook support group such as Fur Angels or Pet Cancer Support.

While a veterinary oncologist is the best person to discuss surgery, radiation and chemotherapy options, there are many avenues to pursue supportive or alternative care for a pet fighting cancer.

  • Botantical Apoptogens: Apoptosis is the process in which cells die. Cancer cells turn that feature off, which is why they continue to grow. The formulation should be left up to a professional. In addition to allowing cancer cells to die, they can strengthen the immune system and reduce side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.
  • Diet: Any illness can impact the way a body absorbs nutrients; cancer is no different. Cancer cells love sugar. In order to starve cancer cells, the pet’s diet should avoid simple sugars—or anything ending in “ose.” Instead, add complex carbohydrates, digestible proteins and fatty acids. Some resources for recipes include com/Cancer-Recipe-Dogs and CanineCancerAwareness.org/Therapy-and-Support/Diet.
  • Energetics: Energy therapies such as reiki and crystal therapy can help with relieving the side effects of cancer and conventional treatments, as well as boost the immune system.
  • Herbal Supplements: Curcumin, zeolites and artemsisin, among other herbs, have shown cancer-fighting and immune-building properties. Formulations should be left up to professionals.
  • Homeopathy: It can help reduce the side effects of cancer and conventional treatments.
  • IV Antioxidant Therapy: Cancer, radiation and chemotherapy can boost the production of free radicals which, in turn, weaken the immune system. This therapy helps neutralize and reduce free radicals.
  • Ozone Therapy. Try introducing large amounts of oxygen into the bloodstream in the form of ozone. Medical ozone has been used to treat many chronic medical conditions including cancer.
  • Poly-MVA Therapy: It replaces nutrients lost during conventional therapies.

Other suggested resources can be found at Vet.Cornell.edu/Cancer/Supportive.cfm, NCBI.NLM.NIH.gov/pmc/Articles/PMC3312702, HealthyPets.Mercola.com/Sites/Healthypets/Archive/2010/11/23/Pet-Supplements-and-Pet-Therapy-for-Cancer-Prevention.aspx, MerckVetManual.com/Special-Pet-Topics/Cancer-and-Tumors/Caring-for-a-Pet-with-Cancer and ACFoundation.org/FAQs.

Both conventional and supportive cancer treatments have come a long way in helping pets survive cancer while also taking into consideration the quality of their life in the process. As treatments are increasingly studied and improve, the hope is that one day cancer will no longer be feared.

Mary Oquendo is a Reiki master, advanced crystal master and certified master tech pet first aid instructor. She is the owner of Hands and Paws Reiki for All. She can be reached at HandsAndPawsReiki.com.