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Alternative Treatments for Lymphoma in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Conventional or Western canine lymphoma treatments aim to attack and kill cancer cells. Alternative treatments focus on boosting the immune system and a dog's natural disease-fighting capabilities. Whether you're planning on merging both types of treatment or using alternative treatments alone, you'll be interested in learning how veterinarians are using diet, herbal remedies, acupuncture and homeopathic preparations to help their canine lymphoma patients. Consult with your holistic vet for the most appropriate plan.

A Cancer-Fighting Diet

Treating cancer via alternative treatments takes putting several puzzle pieces together, and diet is one of the most important pieces. Your vet might recommend reducing carbohydrate intake, because cancer cells rely on carbs for energy, and carbs produce byproducts that must be excreted. Dr. Gregory K. Ogilvie, board-certified veterinary oncologist and director of the Angel Care Cancer Center in Carlsbad, California, says this leads to an energy expense for the dog and an energy gain by the tumor.

A highly digestible and palatable diet that contains relatively low amounts of simple carbohydrates, moderate amounts of bio-available protein, soluble and insoluble fiber, and omega 3 fatty acids may prove beneficial to dogs with cancer. For canine lymphoma, clinical trials run by Dr.Ogilvie showed that a low-carb, high-fat diet supplemented with fish oil and arginine increased disease-free intervals and survival times. Because every dog and every cancer case is different, consult a veterinary specialist for specific dietary recommendations.

Herbal Lymphoma Supplements

Immune-boosting herbal supplements, along with supplements meant to detoxify the body, are helpful for managing canine lymphoma. Japanese mushroom extracts, green tea extract and liver-supporting milk thistle are a few supplements that Dr. Kim Freeman, a board-certified veterinary oncologist practicing at Veterinary Cancer & Surgery Specialists in Milwaukie, Oregon, recommends for her canine lymphoma patients.

Some supplements with antioxidant properties may work against chemo, a reason why your should always work closely with your vet and consult him before administering any natural remedies to your dog.

Homeopathic Lymphoma Preparations

Homeopathy is based on the administration of diluted doses of natural substances meant to build immunty. While homeopathy alone may potentially provide remission in about one out of every four or five cases, the best outcomes are seen when homeopathy is combined with chemotherapy, according to Charles Loops, a homeopathic veterinarian offering consultations at Natural Animal Care in Pittsboro, North Carolina. Dr. Loops claims using the homeopathic remedies Scrophularia nodosa, Carbo animalis, and Calcarea fluorica to reduce enlarged lymph nodes and help the dog into remission. He also claims that administering cell salt combinations provides more energy and greater well-being.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Depending on the location of a lymphoma, acupuncture can relieve symptoms associated with the disease and the side effects from chemo. Nicole Schiff, a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist working for California Animal Rehabilitation in Los Angeles, California, claims to use acupuncture in her practice to help with nausea and diarrhea. On the other hand, Dr. Betsy Hershey, a board-certified veterinary oncologist practicing at Integrative Veterinary Oncology in Phoenix, Arizona, recommends acupuncture along with Chinese herbal medicine and good nutrition to her canine lymphoma patients undergoing chemo treatments.

The Best of Both Worlds

Lymphoma is not easy to treat. Little progress has been made in increasing remission times or finding a cure. While lymphoma is initially very responsive to chemotherapy, it's important to consider that chemo doesn't cure the disease. On a brighter note, Dr. Hershey notes that over the years, owners incorporating complementary therapies in addition to chemo report years of remission versus the average one year of remission and survival time seen when using chemotherapy alone.