Dog liver cancer natural treatments obviously won't cure a dog's liver cancer, however, they can help support the liver and help maintain and even improve quality of life. Cancer causes a multitude of changes to the dog's body and metabolism and it's important to be aware of these changes and take steps to reduce their occurrence, or at the very least, slow things down. There are several dog liver cancer "treatments" available nowadays and most of them are available over the counter. Please consult with your vet before starting any supplements.
A Word About Nutritional Support
It's an unfortunate fact, but cancer in dogs remains one of the top causes of death with 1 in 2 dogs expected to develop cancer once over the age of 10.
While it's true that nowadays there are several traditional "cancer treatments" such as surgery and chemotherapy, it is also true that not all dogs can be granted such treatment either because they are not good surgical candidates or because of dog owner's choice.
Many dog owners choose to implement palliative care for their dogs with liver cancer. The goal of palliative care is to provide and sustain quality of life for as long as possible, but without necessarily slowing down the cancer's progression or hastening death.
One important aspect of providing palliative care is nutritional support. Cancer wrecks havoc on a dog's body often leading to malnutrition. Cancer cachexia is a term used to depict the loss of appetite, muscle wasting and weight loss in dogs with cancer.
Cancer cachexia in dogs with liver cancer may be caused by the cancer itself causing mechanical changes that impact the dog's appetite. For instance, dogs with an enlarged liver may develop loss of appetite and a sense of fullness if the liver presses on abdominal organs.
[adinserter block="4"]Advanced-stage cancer on its own also leads to partial (finicky eating) or complete loss of appetite. Cancer causes abnormalities in the way the dog's body metabolizes carbohydrates, proteins and fats which causes dogs to lose weight and muscle mass despite eating well.
Dogs with cancer that have little appetite can be helped by giving palatable foods or appetite stimulants such as Entyce, cyproheptadine, mirtazapine or even prednisone (which has increased appetite as side effect). If the dog's loss of appetite is due to nausea, medications such such as Pepcid, prilosec or the prescription drug Cerenia can turn helpful.
Feeding small amounts of food frequently can also help considering that, as the cancer grows, it may end up pressing against the dog's stomach, making the dog feel full faster. While there are many recipes for homemade diets on the web, it's important to ensure they are balanced.
Dog Liver Cancer Natural Treatments
There are several dog liver cancer natural treatments that aim to strengthen and prevent damage to the dog's liver. The most common products are supplements and these include S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), milk thistle and vitamin E. Following are more details about these natural treatments.
According to Life Extension, there are almost a thousand published studies proving the ability of this bioactive form of methionine to treat liver disorders in people, including cancer.
Your dog's liver is certainly an amazing structure. It's a workhorse that constantly works in filtering the blood, manufacturing cholesterol, storing vitamins, breaking down toxins, synthesized proteins, fibrinogen and blood clotters and making glycogen from glucose. It's no surprise therefore why the liver is so important.
The liver is known to house the third highest amount of SAMe in the body, after the adrenal and pineal glands. SAMe is therefore a vital nutrient and plays a primary role in the liver's ability to regenerate. Indeed, SAMe enzymes in the liver are the ones known for regenerating tissue.
[adinserter block="4"]SAMe works by increasing or maintaining glutathione levels. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant produced by the liver which protects it against oxidative stress. Its administration helps glutathione concentrations and prevents glutathione depletion. As an added bonus, SAM-e supplementation helps brain function and therefore can greatly benefit senior dogs with mental confusion.
Currently two popular SAMe products for dogs are Denosyl-SD4® and Zentonil®. Denamarin is another SAMe product that contains additional ingredients for added benefits as detailed below.
There are several other SAMe products such as Maxxi SAMe, which is in powder form and can be given with food and contains additional ingredients for hepatic and brain function such as artichoke (from the thistle family), choline, inositol, and B vitamins which improve the absorption of SAM-e.
"There are definitely liver supplements that can help and an anti-inflammatory diet to help support the body to fight cancer cells. Denamarin is an excellent antioxidant and anti inflammatory medication used for liver disease. "~Dr. Scott Perry, veterinarian
Milk thistle (Silymarin)
The milk thistle plant (Silybum marianum) is known for being used as a home remedy for liver disease for many years. In a study, silymarin was found to work against the toxic effects on the liver as a result from ingesting a poisonous mushroom. Dogs affected by mushroom toxicity and given silymarin showed less liver damage and improved survival times compared to dogs left untreated.
While silibin is a potent compound its bioavailability and absorption in the digestive tract is poor. The bioavailability of this compound is increased by complexing it with phosphatidylcholine.
Denamarin by Nutramax, is a liver support product which contains SAMe, just like Denosyl, but also contains Silybin-phosphatidylcholine complex (SPC). Denamarin is therefore a combination of the two Nutramax products Denosyl (Sam-e) and Marin (Milk Thistle). Denamarin is therefore a stronger option for dogs who need maximum liver support.
While SAMe is available over the counter and without a prescription, it is not without risks. According to veterinarian Dr. Wendy C. Brooks, serotonin syndrome may occur when SAMe is taken with tramadol, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (such as selegiline for cognitive dysfunction), anti-anxiety medications and amitraz-containing tick control products.
Denamarin can be used in conjunction with Marin in cases where it may be desirable to provide additional levels of silybin along with vitamin E and zinc supplementation (the latter two are available in Marin but not Denamarin). If Marin is used in conjunction with Denamarin, the two products should be administered 12 hours apart for best response."~Dr. Todd R. Tams, board-certified veterinarian
Vitamin E (α-tocopherol)
[adinserter block="4"]Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that is found in all cell membranes. Vitamin E appears appears to be quite safe and inexpensive. Its natural form, d-α tocopherol is much preferred over the synthetic form dl-α-tocopherol.
HepatiClear™ Pro by Vetriscience contains dl-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E) turmeric, milk thistle and zinc. Marin Plus, on the other hand, is a new variant of Marin, and on top of milk thistle, contains vitamin E, medium chain triglyceride oil and curcumin (turmeric).
Cancer Fighting Mushrooms
There are some great mushrooms that are known to help boost the immune system while also providing strong cancer fighting properties. I'm Yunity and Host Defense brand Turkey tail are two examples of cancer-fighting mushrooms.
Dealing With Anemia and Blood Loss
Liver cancers risk hemorrhaging which puts dogs at risk for anemia and life threatening shock if the bleed is significant. A popular Chinese Medicine known for helping dogs with spleen or liver cancers is Yunnan Baiyao. The homeopathic remedy phosphorus 30C can also be effective to stop bleeding. Consult with a holistic vet for dosing purposes.
The Bottom Line
As seen, there are several dog liver cancer natural "treatments." Liver cancer in dogs remains a serious issue, and potentially life threatening when it spreads or hemorrhages. Dogs with liver cancer benefit from surgery and other conventional treatments may be used to help keep the dog comfortable.
Prescription medications can help maintain quality of life and these may include Cerenia for dogs with nausea, tramadol for pain (the dog's liver is contained within a capsule that has nerve endings) and other medications.
If your dog has liver cancer, it is therefore important to keep in touch with your vet to help ensure your dog remains comfortable for as long as possible. If you are planning on giving supplements, also please consult with your vet for instructions.