A diagnosis for bone cancer can be overwhelming. While surgery may be necessary for pain control, slowing the spread of this invasive cancer to other organs and relieving your dog's pain after surgery can increase his lifespan and comfort. There are several natural and complementary treatments for bone cancer that have showed promise in medical studies.
There are four primary types of bone cancer differentiated by the types of cancer cells and the location of the tumors: osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma. The most common is osteosarcoma, which usually manifests in the long bones of the legs. All bone cancers start growing deep in the affected bone and grow progressively more painful. If the tumor is in a leg, often the only way to relieve the pain is to amputate the limb---in later stages, no medication will control the pain. Most dogs adjust easily to being a "tripawd."
Bone cancer is invasive. In approximately 80 percent of cases, it has already metastasized to other organs at the time of diagnosis. Chemotherapy can be expensive. Several natural and more affordable remedies have proven effective in treating bone cancer by slowing the metastasis.
Ask your vet for a referral to a holistic veterinarian or a veterinary oncologist who practices complementary medicine. While there are many natural cancer treatments sold online, it's best to get information and products from a reliable source. Several promising and botanical treatments have been studied by veterinary researchers and are being used in veterinary medicine, while others of unproven efficacy are sold as "cancer cures" by unscrupulous marketers. Avoid relying on information from any website or person selling the cure without independent evidence that it's a reliable product. Many veterinarians use herbal or natural remedies in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation.
Herbal and Botanical Treatments
Traditional Chinese herbs (TCM) such as curcumin, turmeric and astralagus have tumor-inhibiting properties and are often used by holistic vets. Most TCM herbal remedies are proprietary blends and may be custom-blended by a practitioner for the individual dog. The remedies are also available online.
The herbal extract atemisinin has shown positive results in slowing growth of bone cancer and is being used to treat both people and dogs. The dosage must be tailored to the dog; working with a vet to arrive at the optimum dosage is important.
Neoplasene is a botanical extract made from bloodroot. It is applied either topically to external tumors, injected or given orally with food. As with any natural treatment or supplement, talk to your vet about contraindications with other drugs.
Diet and Supplements
Much of what is understood today about the nutritional needs of a cancer dog comes from Dr. Gregory K. Ogilvie's research and findings published in 1999.
A diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein and fat is not only digested more efficiently, but may inhibit cancer cell growth. This can be achieved by choosing a grain-free dry or canned dog food, home-cooking or feeding a raw diet.
Several supplements can also inhibit cancer cells and boost the immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish oil capsules, antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, and the amino acids arginine and L-glutamine are often recommended.