Cancer definition:

Cancer describes diseases involving the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells within the body. These cells are able to invade other tissues, spreading to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.

How it affects pets:

There are many types of cancer and are categorized based on where the abnormal cells growth originates. These include carcinoma, sarcoma, leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and cancer of the central nervous system.


According to Dr. Richard Pitcairn, DVM, PhD, “Research suggests that environmental pollutants and chemicals in food are major factors in the development and support of this group of diseases.” He believes that “...there are many factors that seem to ‘cause’ cancer, but they don’t take effect unless the individual is in a weakened, susceptible condition.” He recommends keeping any animal “in excellent health with good food, adequate exercise, access to fresh air and sunshine and a stable emotional environment” in order to maintain a strong immune system. “Whereas a weaker animal might succumb to the effects of carcinogens, the strong one will more likely resist and detoxify them. No drug or vaccine can ever take the place of good health.”

What types of foods do holistic vets recommend?

Since tumors grow quickly when fueled by carbs, amend the diet to lower the level of carbohydrates. Choose higher fat and protein with limited carbs and sugars. This will help slow the growth of cancer. Make sure your pet’s diet includes amply antioxidants as they combat free radicals, prevalent in cancer. But, please consult your vet for guidance as you do not wish to mega-dose antioxidants. This can be counterproductive. Also very important is to avoid toxins, chemicals, and other harmful ingredients in the diet. A switch to whole foods, organic when possible, is a benefit to your pet’s overall health and vitality.

Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends ingredients such as sardines, eggs, apricots, parsley, carrots, and beef to nourish, cleanse, and tonify the blood. Also choose items that tonify the flow of Qi (often deficient in cancer patients) in the body including; beef, chicken, herring, mackerel, oats, brown rice, millet, pumpkin, squash, figs, sweet potatoes, and yams.

Other modalities to consider:

  • Acupuncture can help to combat nausea caused by chemotherapy and to enhance the immune system, opening the flow of Qi and creating an environment that is conducive to healing.
  • Herbal therapies can help to boost immunity, alter ‘stasis’, stimulate healing, eliminate nausea, and increase appetite. Mushroom supplements containing Cordycaps, Reishi, Maitake, Shitake, and Turkey Tail, such as Fungi Perfecti’s Mush, provide anti-tumor, anti-viral, and overall immune-enhancing properties.
  • Chiropractic care and massage are especially useful for cancers such as osteosarcoma that result in lameness and compensatory misalignment and pain in other areas of the body. These help to align the spinal column and other joints as well as relieve tension in the muscles. Massage also releases endorphins, offering a calming sense of well-being.

To find holistic help with your pet's cancer, see our list of integrative veterinarians and holistic practitioners.

Diets that meet some of the parameters vets suggest:

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