National Canine Cancer Foundation to fund a new innovative Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) Research Project

June 19th, 2014

I have some new exciting news. As you all know we are always trying to find an new edge in the battle against canine cancer. And Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is one of those cancers we would like to get a better handle on since it seems to end up being diagnosed too late to save the dog. In fact, we are so keen on finding out how to deal with HSA that we have actually initiated our own research project on HSA with G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. This is very exciting for the NCCF because this type of research on HSA has never been tried. Let me tell you how it all came about by first talking about a dog name Batman.

Batman was the first dog to undergo a breakthrough experimental treatment for brain cancer, led by doctors, G. Elizabeth Pluhar, D.V.M., Ph.D., and John Ohlfest, Ph.D. They developed a combination treatment plan for dogs with glioma, a very aggressive and relatively common form of brain cancer. First they removed the tumor surgically. Then, in some cases, they use local gene therapy to attract immune cells to destroy remaining tumor cells, and finally they created a personalized anti-cancer vaccine made from the dog’s own cancer cells to prevent tumor recurrence.

I personally love the thought of taking a cancer that was killing a dog and turning it into a personalized vaccine to kill the cancer!

Dr. Pluhar, a surgeon at the Veterinary Medical Center, and Dr. Ohlfest, head of the neurosurgery gene therapy program at the Masonic Cancer Center, gave Batman his initial treatment in August 2008. Batman led a normal life unaffected by his tumor until his death from cardiac failure in February 2010, there was no tumor recurrence. According to the Dean of the College, Trevor Ames, DVM, MS, “the far-reaching implications of this promising new treatment are almost difficult to fathom; not only could these treatments lead to a cure for brain and other systemic cancers in dogs, but because dogs and humans share many physiological traits, dogs could also be the missing link in the cure for brain cancer in humans.”

Then something interesting happened. Almost one year ago, Davis Hawn’s then 8-year-old yellow lab, Booster, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his nasal sinus. Booster was given three weeks to live. Hawn did not want to accept the death sentence and began searching the country for a cure. His search led him to doctors in Florida who removed Booster’s tumor and gave him chemo. An online search then led him to Dr. Elizabeth Pluhar from the University of Minnesota’s canine brain tumor clinical program. Davis asked her to help his dog, but Dr. Pluhar had never made a vaccine for this type of cancer before. But Davis was not going to take no for an answer so she did agree to try. She shipped the vaccine off and ten months later Booster is cancer free.

Then after Davis contacted the NCCF to tell us about how well the vaccine works, we contacted Dr. Pluhar to ask if she would be willing to try the same research that was successful with brain cancer and skin cancer, and use the same protocol to try dealing with splenic HSA. The NCCF’s thinking is that with all these other cancers, the similarities were that the cancer had to be removed and a vaccine needed to be created from the cancer cells. With splenic HSA, one of the more common forms of HSA, the spleen is typically removed so we felt that Dr. Pluhar’s research could possibly work. With that in mind, we asked her if she could try and apply her protocol on splenic HSA. After doing some initial research she agreed to do the study based on reaching certain goals before going on to the next level.

First, she needs to insure that we can culture the cancer cells in the lab,

Second, she needs to insure that the tumor vaccines stimulate immune cells to attack tumor cells. If she can achieve these two steps she can go on to treat the HSA cancer. We could not be happier and are guardedly optimistic over this research project.

The cost for this project will be $55,500. I hope you are all as excited as we are about this research and will help fund the project. If you want to help with funding this new innovative NCCF’s initiated project please CLICK HERE or got to this link

Thank you

Gary D. Nice
President and Founder
National Canine Cancer Foundation

Labs in the lab: how scientists aim to root out disease in dogs

September 2nd, 2014

The UK’s most popular pedigree dog is about to have its genome sequenced at the institute where Dolly the Sheep was created. The research, which coincides with an online project to trace the cause of environmental illnesses in labradors, will prove a powerful tool in tackling canine diseases.

Photograph: Alamy ••• A labrador retriever puppy. The breed is suffering human-like conditions in old age.

Molly is a 16-month-old black labrador retriever and like so many dogs of her breed, she is exuberant, biddable and anxious to please. She also has a distinct personality, insists her owner Sussi Wiles, from Harefield, Middlesex. “Molly is just a bit cheeky and will do unexpected things. She will jump up at you when you are not expecting it. But she is also good-natured and cheerful and really likes being around people.”

The labrador retriever, of which there are yellow, chocolate and black varieties, is the UK’s most popular pedigree dog. It is estimated there are several hundred thousand living in homes round the country today, a popularity that has much to do with the dog’s innate, endearing good nature. Hence many owners’ fanatical devotion to them. As one website dedicated to the breed puts it: “When God made labrador retrievers, he was showing off.”

Molly is typical in possessing that lovable, affectionate disposition though she is unusual in one intriguing aspect. Information about her life is now being recorded in extraordinary detail in an online project, called Dogslife, which aims to trace the environmental roots of illnesses in the labrador retriever – and a lot more.

According to scientists at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute – the research institute where Dolly the Sheep was created and which launched Dogslife four years ago – the project could become the forerunner of many similar schemes. The aim is to trace the environmental roots of disease – viruses, bacteria, poor food or poor exercise regimes – in other pedigree dogs, and possibly other pedigree animals including top farmyard breeds of bulls and sheep, they say.

For good measure, the Roslin team are planning to augment the data they get from Dogslife by exploiting the very latest techniques in DNA analysis to uncover the genetic – as opposed to the lifestyle – roots of labrador disease. The aim is to create the first labrador genome. Hence its title: the Labradome project. And if it works it could become a pioneer for other pedigree animals, both pets and livestock. The labrador retriever is about to play an unexpectedly important role in the nature-nurture debate, it transpires.

“We picked the labrador for the simple reason that it is the most common pedigree dog in the UK,” says Professor David Hume, Roslin’s director. “However, the lessons learned from it will go far beyond this breed or indeed for dogs in general.

“The key point is that dogs like the labrador retriever are now getting human-like conditions because – as veterinary care and nutrition improves – they are living to ripe old ages when they start to succumb to heart disease, arthritis and cognitive loss. They get Alzheimer’s disease, in effect. They also get obese and suffer diabetes as a consequence. Hence our interest.”

Molly’s involvement in Dogslife requires Wiles to key in reams of information every month about her dog’s diet, hours of exercise, treatments for fleas and worms and any bouts of illness she might suffer. The project – which remains an exclusively labrador project for the moment – currently has more than 4,500 dogs signed up to its website.

Owners put up photos of their pets and regularly input veterinary information – though a select few have even more onerous work to do. They have to send regular samples of their dogs’ excrement to the Roslin team to provide information about the microbes that inhabit the animals’ guts and which might leave them susceptible to various digestive disorders.

Photograph: Sonja Horsman ••• Sussi Wiles and her dog Molly are taking part in an online project that aims to identify the causes of disease that affect labradors in later life.

From the huge stores of doggy data that are being built up this way, researchers expect they will soon begin to tease out some of the causes of disease that affect labradors in later life and answer key questions about their lifestyles. Are particular types of dog food associated with particular diseases? Do infections at certain stages in a dog’s life leave it vulnerable to more serious diseases in later years? And what exercise regimes are most likely to produce good health in later age for the labrador?

“If a dog is getting the trots all the time, we want to know if it’s because they have got a certain type of organism in their guts,” adds Hume. “And does it make a difference what kind of feed they get: dried food or fresh meat? How does diet affect an animal’s health status?”

Many of the roots of labrador ailments are not going to be environmental in origin, of course, but will be inherited. Hence the Roslin team’s decision to launch the Labradome project in parallel with Dogslife. This will involve geneticists creating a high-quality sequence of the genome of a single labrador retriever: the first time that a full genome of this breed will have been sequenced.

“We are going to sequence in depth the entire complement of genes in a healthy labrador retriever to ensure we have a perfect, accurate picture of the basic genetic structure of one of these dogs,” says Dylan Clements, the Roslin researcher who is leading the project. “Then we will sequence the genomes of a number of other labradors, animals that have various different labrador diseases, such as hip dysplasia.

“Then by comparing their genomes with those of our standard, healthy dog, we will be able to work out what are the differences in genetic sequences between the various animals. In this way, we hope to be able to unravel the genetic roots of some of the labrador retriever’s main illnesses.”

A key factor in setting up the Labradome project has been the recent, dramatic cut in the cost of sequencing genomes. The first human genome that was sequenced just over a decade ago cost billions of pounds. The development of ultra-fast, automated sequencing machines has since slashed the price of unrolling the billions of bases of DNA that make up genomes of mammals. As a result, it should be possible to get a really high-quality genome for a labrador for only a few thousand pounds, says Clements.

Hence the decision to set up the Labradome project on the back of Dogslife, says Hume, and to exploit two of the most dramatic technological marvels of the 21st century: the internet and the genome sequencer. “We are funded to fully sequence 50 labradors which we are choosing from a spectrum of different animals with different phenotypes (observable characteristics) so we can get insights into the causes of the main illnesses that affect the breed.”

One of the principal ailments to be analyzed as part of the Labradome project will be a condition called accessory pathway disease, in which the heart short-circuits and beats faster and faster and which can lead to heart failure. Another is called portosystemic shunts, which occurs when a dog’s blood circulation misses out its liver so that it becomes clogged with unhealthy chemicals that would normally be filtered out.

And then there is hip dysplasia, in which the bones that fit into a dog’s hip socket become loose so that the animal develops severe osteoarthritis. “We know this condition is caused by a group of genes, not a singe one, and that is probably true for accessory pathway disease and portosystemic shunts as well. However, if we can create the incredibly detailed sequence that we are planning to do for the labrador retriever and compare dogs with hip dysplasia with our standard healthy animal, we hope we will be able to pin down those genes.”

Armed with this information, researchers can then study how these genes are activated and think of lifestyle changes that might prevent these illnesses from erupting. The point, they say, is that once the Labradome project is finished, it will be possible to look at a top breeding male and see what recessive traits he possesses. Chromosomes come in pairs and if a dog has a gene involved in a disease on one chromosome but has a healthy one on the other chromosome of that pair, it will not be affected by the disease. However, the dog can still pass the disease gene on to future generations so that if two carriers are bred, they can produce offspring affected by the disease. Such conditions are said to be recessive.

“And that is why the Labradome project will be so useful,” says Hume. “We will be able to spot if a stud male has got an unhealthy recessive gene. Then we could breed future generations from it by taking offspring that did not have the chromosome with the disease gene. We would only use offspring that had inherited the chromosome with the healthy gene. Effectively we will be removing that disease from the pedigree. This is known as molecular selection and we are going to use to improve the genetic fitness of the labrador retriever.”

This point is backed by Clements. “This is a fantastically exciting time for canine genetics,” he says. “It has become an amazingly powerful tool to dissect the molecular basis for why these diseases develop and to help us ways to breed out complex inherited diseases.”

For her part, Wiles is simply content that the labrador retriever is getting its proper share of the limelight. “These dogs are incomparable and it seems really fitting that they are leading the way in this sort of research. I know why Molly is fantastic. Now scientists are going to know why that is.”

News reposted from:

Written by: Robin McKie

Why Dogs Need Multivitamin Supplements?

September 1st, 2014

Many pet parents assume that they are meeting their dog’s nutritional requirements by providing them with high-quality pet food made from the best ingredients. While choosing a nutritious and healthy pet food is an important step in protecting the health of your pet, the fact of the matter is you are likely not meeting all of your pet’s needs. In order to develop a strong immune system and avoid disease and infection, dogs require a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants as a part of their daily diet. In many cases, a daily multivitamin supplement will be able to meet these needs and provide your pet with more benefits than you can even imagine.

  • Multivitamin supplements will fill in the nutritional gaps in your dog’s diet. When your dog’s nutritional requirements are not met, it may be prone to injury because of insufficient bone development or a weak immune system could cause your dog to easily become infected and suffer from disease. Supplement products can help prevent these issues, because they ensure that your pet is getting all of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants that it needs in order to grow up strong and healthy.
  • These supplements have been created utilizing special formulas that specifically target the development of a strong immune system. This is why it can be beneficial to start providing your pet with a supplement product at a young age. These supplements have been shown to help enhance the development of the immune system, allowing your dog to protect itself against infection, illness and disease.
  • Multivitamins can help your dog maximize its energy use and prevent it from becoming lazy and lethargic early in life. Multivitamin supplements allow your dog to feel its best at all times, so it is always up for a walk around the block or a romp in the dog park with other local pooches.
  • Depending on the formula, some multivitamin supplements will help support the development of a healthy and strong bone structure. When you choose a supplement product for your pet, you will want to know what ingredients are included in the particular formula that you choose. Look for ingredients such as copper, iron, magnesium and oyster shell, all of which aid in the development of strong bones. A dog that does not receive supplements and therefore does not have an optimal bone structure may be prone to injury. Choosing the right multivitamin can help you allow your dog to live an exciting and fulfilling life without the fear of hurting itself on a regular basis.
  • Multivitamin supplements contain specific ingredients that help your dog’s body to better absorb and utilize the nutrients in its pet food. Simply because your high-quality pet food includes a certain vitamin, mineral, or nutrient, doesn’t mean that your dog’s body is capable of absorbing it. In most cases, vitamins work with one another in order to unlock the benefits for the body. A supplement product will have been created utilizing a well-balanced formula that contains a variety of vitamins and antioxidants, all of which will work together in order to maximize the positive impact on your dog’s health. Giving a daily natural supplement is a safe and effective way to ensure that your dog enjoys all of the health benefits that it deserves in order to live a long and happy life.

Pet parents who are interested in providing their dog with a daily vitamin supplement should discuss this with their veterinarian. When you tell your veterinarian what pet food products you are giving your dog, the doctor will be able to provide you with recommendations for types of supplements that might be beneficial for your pet. In many cases, a multivitamin formula is ideal for pets, as these supplements contain a well-rounded portion of the vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants that dogs need. Your veterinarian can help you choose a supplement product that is safe and effective, allowing your dog to benefit as much as possible from this nutritional boost.

Article reposted from:

Post provider: NuVet Labs

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Dogs Life More Holistic

August 29th, 2014

In honor of National Holistic Pet Day on August 30, here are a few ways that you can help your dog lead a more holistic – where your dog’s soul, body and mind are interconnected – life because a balanced dog is a happy one. (Obviously, before trying any of the tips below, always do your research and consult your trusted veterinarian.)

1. Provide frequent, clean water — Like us, dogs are mostly (roughly 70 percent) made up of water. On average, dogs need “8.5 to 17 ounces of water per 10 pounds (55 to 110 milliliters per kilogram) per day.” There could already be bacteria or other unwelcome things in your dog’s water bowl, so incorporating nice clean water is important. If you make it a point to drink filtered water, make sure the water you give your dogs is also nice and clean.

2. Feed them more raw foods — Dogs are also what they eat. They probably don’t want to eat “food” that’s constantly recalled and pulled from the shelves because other dogs are dying from it. A raw food diet — or even a more raw food diet — that you prepare at home is a sure way to help your dog get the nutrients that he needs. If you’re interested in this, look into what your dog needs for a full, healthy diet, and consult your veterinarian to make sure it’s the right choice for your dog’s health.

3. Practice the art of DogaDoga is yoga that you and your dog (or other pet) can do together. If yoga’s not your style, then good ol’-fashioned exercise will get the tail wagging.

4. Take a mindful walk — This also falls into the exercise category, but walks aren’t just about your dog. Your energy and presence matter, too. Be confident so that your dog wants to follow you; it’ll also help you avoid the less pleasant aspects of walking a dog, e.g. pulling you. The Natural Dog Blog recommends focusing and playing-training for you to truly walk with your dog in a mindful way.

5. Make your dog work — Dogs actually like to work. Give your dog some life purpose by giving her a job. Her breed and natural quirks will help you decide the job for her. A few common examples are making her carry a backpack with your personal items, fetching things for you because you’re too lazy, guarding the house or chasing the cat (just kidding!).

6. Go on a doggy date — Your dog should definitely not be anti-social. There’s nothing like a dog chilling with another dog. Even if you don’t have your own dog pack, training classes, dog parks and dog meet ups are easy ways meet new dogs. Dog socialization isn’t just about making your dog happy and entertaining the humans with their antics. Dog socialization will boost your pooch’s confidence and make them more reliable.

7. Stimulate their mind — Play is the no-brainer way to engage your dog’s mind. You can use it to simulate the thrill of the hunt or stick something tasty in a toy that makes your dog forage for food like his ancestors. You can also get your dog’s mind going by learning a new trick or giving him a new challenge.

A word of caution about dog toys: Part of human holistic living is avoiding toxins and chemicals that are not good for our bodies. Well, they aren’t good for our pets either, but many dog toys are full of them. The Bark notes how many dog toys imported from China are full of carcinogenic and poisonous heavy metals, e.g. cadmium, lead and chromium. Avoid dog toys that reek of chemicals, use bright colors or have fire retardants or stain guards. Never assume that a toy is safe just because it’s made in the United States, either.

8. Unwind with a dog massage — When the fun and excitement is over, it’s important for your dog to unwind. Like us, a good massage can help with that. Holistic Veterinary Healing lists the Tui Na massage as an effective technique to help your dog’s joints and muscles. The technique is used to prevent injury, restore joint and tissue function, improve their performance and endurance and prevent the loss of joint mobility. Another massage technique involves no physical contact. Reiki for dogs works to align all of their chakras from head to tail and remove their pent up negative energy.

Your Holistic Dog has more massage tutorials that will walk you through giving your dog the perfect massage.

9. Relax with some musical therapy — You can also let some music do the relaxing for you. A calming tune offers more benefits than pure relaxation. Pet MD explains that “music causes changes in brain activity, neurohumoral, cardiovascular and immune responses.” While there are many recordings to choose from, studies show that classical music is especially effective.

10. Find a holistic or alternative vet — If you’re loving the idea of holistic medicine for your pet, then there are vets with holistic and alternative trainings. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association helps you find an accredited vet where acupuncture, aromatherapy, herbal medicine, dog chakra clearing and homeopathy are the norm. You can also check out International Alliance for Animal Therapy and Healing and International Veterinary Acupuncture Society for more information.

Bonus Tip: Be balanced, be happy — I’m not sure if it’s because they study us every day or there’s some ethereal soul contract at play, but our dogs are truly our mirrors. If you strive to live your best and most holistic life, then you’ll give them permission to do the same. Now that’s a gift.

Article reposted from:

Written by: Jessica Ramos

Some dog breeds might be genetically predisposed to certain cancers

August 28th, 2014

It is not uncommon in this postmodern age for dog owners to refer to, and even treat, their dog as if that dog were their child. “This is my baby” and “These are my kids” are phrases frequently uttered by dog owners, absent of any irony, to introduce a bounding Labrador to a new acquaintance or to draw attention from across a bar top to a smartphone picture of a pair of panting Corgis.

All commentary aside, and presuming that there are likely as many people who identify themselves in this state of affairs as there are those who are confused and nauseated by it, the following is important, if potentially distressing, news for modern parents of canine children. Dr. Gerald Post, a board-certified veterinary oncologist, wrote a post on this afternoon concerning revelations made while researching the canine genome that are beginning to make causal links between a dog’s breed and its likelihood of developing certain kinds of cancer. Post notes that while every dog is at some level of risk for cancer, some breeds of dog seem to develop specific types of cancer more frequently than others. For example, Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds are more closely associated with B-cell lymphomas than are other breeds and mixes. Such connections have had empirical support for some time, but it is only now, through genetic research, that scientists might be able definitively describe the connections and move towards more effective treatments.

In general, canine children should be taken to a licensed veterinarian for regular checkups. But parents should also be watchful for warning signs of specific cancers and diligent in keeping their kids away from factors that might increase risk, such as an unhealthy diet.

Janet Tobiassen Crosby, a doctor in veterinary medicine, states that about 1 in 4 dogs will succumb to some form of cancer, and that appearance of tell-tale symptoms like sudden weight loss, uncharacteristic lethargy or loss of appetite and new or changed lumps on the dog’s skin should always be checked out by a vet. While this might inspire an increase of hypochondriasis by proxy in parents of canine children, when the well-being of a child is on the line, one can never be too safe.

Article reposted from:

Written by: J. Layne Proctor
Image credit:

Chemotherapy in Veterinary Medicine

August 27th, 2014

The diagnosis of cancer is stressful for pet owners, and the prospect of chemotherapy treatments can be equally difficult. However, the fear that animals will spend most of their last days sick from chemotherapy treatments is unwarranted. Knowing how anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs work and what to expect from the treatments can help pet owners decide on whether such therapy is appropriate for their pets.

When do we use chemotherapy to treat animals with cancer?

Chemotherapy may be used as the sole treatment for certain cancers or may be used in combination with other treatment modalities, such as surgery and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy is likely to be recommended for cancer that has already spread to other areas of the body (metastatic disease), for tumors that occur at more than one site (multicentric disease), or for tumors that cannot be removed surgically (nonresectable disease). In some cases, chemotherapy can be used to try to shrink large tumors prior to surgery or to help eradicate certain types of microscopic cancer cells that cannot or have not been completely removed surgically. For cancers that are at high-risk for metastasis early in the course of disease, chemotherapy can be used after surgery or radiation therapy to help slow down the growth of cancer cells in other parts of the body.

How does chemotherapy work?

Chemotherapy drugs attack cells in the process of growth and division. Individual drugs may work through many different mechanisms, such as damaging a cell’s genetic material (DNA) or preventing the cell from dividing. However, chemotherapeutic drugs cannot distinguish between malignant cancer cells and normal cells. All rapidly dividing cells are potentially sensitive to chemotherapy. Toxicity to normal, rapidly growing or self-renewing tissues in the body is the reason for most of the side effects seen with chemotherapy. Fortunately, these normal tissues continue to grow and repair themselves, so the injury caused by chemotherapy is rarely permanent.

What are the typical side effects of chemotherapy?

Compared to people who receive chemotherapy, pet animals experience fewer and less severe side effects because we use lower doses of drugs and do not combine as many drugs as in human medicine. The normal tissues that typically are most sensitive to chemotherapy are the intestinal lining, the bone marrow (which makes red and white blood cells), and hair follicles.

Toxic effects to the gastrointestinal tract are responsible for decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. These effects may be mild, moderate, or severe. In most cases, these signs are mild and usually resolve on their own or with oral medication given at home. Although infrequent, some dogs (and cats) may develop severe diarrhea requiring hospitalization and fluid therapy. In many cases, the gastrointestinal side effects from chemotherapy are not seen on the day of treatment. They often occur 3 to 5 days later.

Suppression of the bone marrow by chemotherapeutic drugs may cause a drop in the white blood cell count, leading to increased susceptibility to infection. The infection usually comes from the animal’s own body (such as bacteria normally found in the intestines, mouth, skin, etc.). Severe infections may require hospitalization for intensive supportive care, including intravenous fluid and antibiotics. When a chemotherapeutic drug is used that is known to have a high potential for bone marrow suppression, a complete blood count (CBC) is checked several days after the treatment. If the white blood cell count is low but your pet is feeling well, antibiotics are prescribed as a preventative measure. Subsequent doses of chemotherapy are adjusted based on the results of the CBC. Anemia (low red blood cell count) is often a complication of cancer but is rarely caused by the chemotherapy drugs used in veterinary medicine.

Hair follicle cell in dogs (and cats) that are wire-haired or non-shedding may be particularly susceptible to chemotherapy. Certain breeds of dogs, such as terriers and poodles, will experience variable amounts of hair loss. Hair loss often is most evident on the face and tail. Whiskers and the long hairs over the eyes often fall out in cats. The hair will regrow once chemotherapy is stopped, but may initially have a modest change in color or texture.

There are many different types of chemotherapy agents and each has a different likelihood of causing side effects. If your pet is treated with drugs known to cause certain side effects, we will prescribe medications to help prevent these complications, such as antiemetics (anti-nausea and vomiting medication). In addition, we will give you instructions on what to do if and when a problem arises. We seldom see severe side effects as described above; it is estimated to be less than 5% of all pets receiving chemotherapy. With proper management, most animals recover uneventfully within a few days.

Please keep in mind that any animal can have an unexpected reaction to any medication.

How is chemotherapy given?

How a chemotherapeutic drug is administered, how often it is given and how many treatments are given varies from case to case. The type of cancer, the extent of disease, and general health of the animal help the oncologists to formulate a treatment protocol (type of drugs, dose, and schedule used) appropriate for your pet.

Some drugs are oral medications (pills) that you give at home. Others are brief injections that require an outpatient appointment. In some instances, slow infusions or repeated treatments throughout the day may require an animal to spend the day in the hospital. The treatments are typically repeated from weekly to every third week. Blood tests may be needed to monitor the effects of chemotherapy during the weeks between drug treatments.

The duration of chemotherapy depends on the type of cancer and the extent of disease. Some animals need to receive chemotherapy for the rest of their lives. In others, treatments may be spread out or discontinued after a period of weeks to months provided that the cancer is in remission, i.e., there is no detectable evidence of cancer in the body. Chemotherapy can be resumed when the cancer relapses.

We usually recommend that every patient receive at least 2 cycles of chemotherapy and then be evaluated for response before we decide to continue the treatment, change drugs or discontinue chemotherapy.

It is imperative that you, as a pet owner, are committed to treatment and that you bring your pet to the veterinary hospital when scheduled for therapy.

What can be expected from chemotherapy?

In many cases, we are unable to cure our veterinary cancer patients. Our goal is therefore to improve a pet’s quality of life. To this end, chemotherapy can be used to minimize the discomfort caused by a tumor or to slow down the progression of the disease. For most (but not all) types of tumors, the oncologist will provide information on average life expectancy with and without treatments.

The decision of whether to pursue chemotherapy treatments can be complex. Medical information, practical concerns (such as need for repeated visits, your pet’s temperament, etc.), and financial responsibility all play a part in this decision. We encourage you to discuss your concerns with the oncologist and/or our social worker when making this decision.

Article reposted from:

Source: Clinical Oncology Service, Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (VHUP)
Image Credit: Aarun Christian Lucas (Flickr)

Foods that prevent Cancer in Dogs

August 27th, 2014

According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 35% of all human cancers can be attributed to diet imbalances and cancer in dogs is no different. Canine cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over ten years old.

The best thing you can do to prevent cancer in your dog (and yourself) is by feeding a healthy, balanced diet that keeps the immune system strong and fights free radicals.

Foods that protect dogs from getting cancer are considered super foods that are rich in minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants.

According to Oregon State University’s journal, Cancer Prevention, green leafy vegetables containing chlorophyll block the absorption of carcinogens and aflatoxins (often found in the corn and fish found in kibble) and help block carcinogens from entering the blood stream.

Kale, and other green superfoods, contain carotenoids that travel through our dog’s bodies and remove carcinogens out of cells.

The following foods can be lightly cooked or fed raw to help protect your dog from getting cancer:

  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Bok choi
  • Turnips
  • Rutabagas
  • Mustard greens
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries

Foods containing concentrated sources of vitamin D3 also help prevent cancer, such as:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Cod
  • Eggs

A very simple way to supplement your dog’s diet is to simply chop or grate the super foods and mix with meals.

Article reposted from:

Canine cancer companion is all heart

August 26th, 2014

When David Haynes saw an ad for a free dog, he didn’t know what a great deal he’d be getting. Connie, his 9-year-old rat terrier, is his best friend.

The 9-year-old rat terrier has a patch of black fur on her left side that’s shaped like a heart. It’s a unique look that her previous owners had hoped to breed into puppies.

Photos courtesy: David Haynes

But not only did Connie not have puppies bearing the mark, she didn’t have any at all.

And that’s how she came to be part of David Haynes’ life.

“There was a newspaper ad for a free dog,” said Haynes, of Pax. “They had her for breeding, but she never had any puppies.”

Haynes wasn’t necessarily looking for a dog, but the timing was right.

In 2008, he’d been diagnosed with stage IV bladder cancer, which had spread to his ribs and lungs, and he’d had to give up GoGo, the green-winged macaw he’d had for 15 years.

“One snap, and I would have been a goner,” he said.

Haynes, who has been in remission for 2½ years, couldn’t live by himself while he was receiving chemo. So, for several months, he stayed with Greg Spinella, former publisher of The Welch News (who himself died of cancer last year), and Spinella’s wife, Gwen.

When he returned home, he was all alone.

Then one day, he saw the ad that led him to Connie.

“We’ve been best buddies ever since.”

Connie was already named and approximately 4 years old when Haynes got her from the couple in Daniels. She’d hardly ever been outside, he said, and she’d never been in a car. The first trip was an eventful one.

“She tried to climb up my back,” Haynes recalled. “She tried to climb out the window. She threw up.”

Now, he said, she’s very well behaved and just sits in the seat beside him. It’s a good thing, too, because she’s come to love her car rides.

“If I put my shoes on, she’s ready to go!”

Connie also loves the woods, so they take car rides together to get to some of their favorite places, including the Paint Creek Scenic Trail. Haynes said there is a waterfall there that they both enjoy, and he likes the seclusion it offers.

“She likes to roam free when I let her,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of land, but I don’t want to turn her loose out there because coal trucks run up and down the roads here.”

Though she does enjoy her time outside, Connie is content to stay inside with Haynes most of the time. In fact, she hardly leaves his side.

“I can’t even go to the bathroom without her,” he said and laughed. “She’s my companion, you betcha. She’s been a whole lot of company for me.

“She’s a real calm dog,” he added. “The best dog I’ve ever had.”

Though he’s absolutely content with Connie in his life, Haynes still wonders about what became of GoGo. The bird originally went to a family across the street from his cousin in Glasgow, but last he heard, GoGo was in Smithers, having been sold or given away.

“I would really just love to know if he is alive and has a good home,” Haynes said. “I wouldn’t trade 10,000 GoGos for Connie, but, man, after 15 years of the times GoGo and I had, I would love to see him one more time.”

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Written by: Amy Robinson

Value of Animal Treatment to Human Cancer Medicine

August 25th, 2014

Dr. Rodney Page thinks the dog is a cancer patient’s best friend. Not in the way you might think. Yes, dogs offer loyal companionship that might be especially meaningful to a pet owner facing disease diagnosis and treatment.

There’s more. Page, as director of Colorado State University’s world-renowned Flint Animal Cancer Center, is leading a push within the field of cancer medicine to view dogs with naturally occurring disease as the ideal route to improving cancer treatment in people.

Dr. Rodney L. Page, Professor of Oncology and Director of the CSU Animal Cancer Center

On Aug. 14, the Stephen J. Withrow Presidential Chair in Oncology was officially conferred to Page during a reception on campus, a ceremony significant for what the chair will provide: funding to support studies that promise to help both pets and people with cancer.

An academic chair is a funding mechanism that provides investment revenue from an endowment – in this case, an impressive $6 million endowment – to boost teaching, research and service in a field of interest to donors. This chair is named for Dr. Steve Withrow, founding director of the CSU Animal Cancer Center, University Distinguished Professor and pioneer in the field of veterinary oncology.

“More than 700 generous donors contributed to this endowment, which is a tremendous testament to their appreciation for Dr. Withrow’s unparalleled cancer treatment and innovations,” said Dr. Mark Stetter, dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “We are grateful for this support in honor of Dr. Withrow because it will allow the Animal Cancer Center, under the guidance of Dr. Page, to carry on a vital legacy in cancer discoveries.”

Funding from the prestigious chair not only supports continued treatment of pets with cancer, but supports the application of knowledge gained to improve treatment for people with cancer.

What does that mean?

It starts here: The Animal Cancer Center books some 6,000 appointments each year with animal cancer patients, primarily dogs. Job No. 1 is healing these patients with medication, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

As Page often says, “Cancer is cancer,” meaning the disease appears, progresses and responds to treatment in much the same way no matter the species. So it makes sense that human treatment should benefit from the vast medical data and knowledge gained in the course of treating pets.

Withrow was an early proponent. When Page took over as center director in 2010, he likewise took up the mantle of canine oncology within the sphere of translational medicine, meaning medical knowledge that may be translated from one species to another.

Page, a CSU veterinary alumnus who was mentored by Withrow, explains the translational role of canine oncology – and more – in the following Q&A.

Question: Dr. Withrow saw the canine oncology patient very early in his career as a model for understanding human cancer. That has continued at the Flint Animal Cancer Center, and is part of the legacy you carry on. Yet, it’s still a concept not a lot of people know about. Can you explain?

Dr. Rod Page: Cancer is cancer. The same mechanisms that result in cancer in humans are operative in dogs, and are operative in other animals as well. The thing that is valuable – and I believe will continue to grow in its value – is the information that can be gathered through well-done clinical studies in companion animals with naturally occurring cancers. The ability to look at why a tumor spreads or why a tumor becomes resistant to drugs in a relevant environment is how we foresee our scientific program growing in the future.

Question: What’s your elevator speech if you were to meet an oncologist in human medicine and they hadn’t been exposed to the concept of using dogs with cancer as a model for understanding human cancer?

Page: It starts with noting that dogs share our environment. They’re exposed to the same sorts of insults that we are exposed to, and they develop naturally occurring, genetically based diseases more than any other species next to man. More than 400 diseases have been identified as genetically based, and many of those are cancer. In addition, dogs age much more rapidly than people, so tumors develop much more rapidly. This means that, as we treat our canine patients, we can ask and answer the same questions but in a fraction of the time that it takes in a human study.

Question: Talk about the comparative oncology trials that are ongoing at the Flint Animal Cancer Center. How would you summarize the overall goal of those trials?

Page: Whether the study is about improving animal health, or whether it is a lead-in to a human trial, the focus is always on innovation – trying to find ways to do it better, trying to overcome limitations on treatment for cancers. It’s all about improving the bottom line of cancer treatment. We have trials that are conducted for cancer drugs, radiation, new diagnostic tests, and all are part of moving the profession forward for the benefit of pets and people.

Question: Could you point to three major breakthroughs at the Flint Animal Cancer Center that have had a direct influence on human cancer treatment and its effectiveness?

Page: The homeruns that have been provided already include an understanding of radiation response for head and neck cancer, which was done by Dr. Ed Gillette in the ’90s. Up until the advent of very new technologies, that was the basis for the treatment protocol. There’s also the limb-sparing surgery for cancer patients that was advanced by Steve and Dr. Ross Wilkins, a human orthopedic surgeon. It has allowed patients, primarily children, to keep their limbs when undergoing cancer surgery and is recognized as the standard for kids with bone cancer. Another example is the development of a product that stimulates the immune system and has resulted in an improvement in survival for kids with bone cancer by delaying metastasis. That product is currently available, but not yet in the United States because of regulatory issues.

Question: Of some of the studies you currently have under way, is there something that shows particular promise for advancing human cancer treatment and its understanding?

Page: We’re part of a study, funded by the National Cancer Institute, which involves multiple institutions and is evaluating compounds for the treatment of lymphoma, a cancer that affects the immune system. We are looking at the response to treatment in dogs with lymphoma, and we’re also looking at how well this product will work at the microscopic level.

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Skin Tags: Are They Dangerous?

August 22nd, 2014

With the all knowledge of skin cancer and the dangers of malignant lumps, it’s not surprising that any new or unusual growth on your pet’s skin causes concern. However, skin tags are quite common, particularly in older pets, and are generally nothing to worry about.

What are skin tags ?

Skin tags are the result of excessive growth of skin cells and will be the same color as your pet’s skin. Tags can grow anywhere on your pet’s body including eyelids and ears and are usually found in areas where the skin folds.

Skin tags are soft, fleshy and malleable (unlike warts that are hard) but can be flat, rounded, teardrop or stalk-like in shape. Tags are generally only a few millimeters in length but can grow to the size of a grape. These large tags are more likely to get bumped, pinched or crushed and cause discomfort. Usually once a skin tag is seen, it indicates that others will be present on your pet’s body or will develop.

As mentioned, skin tags are very common, and can form in any breed. The exact causes of skin tags are yet to be determined, it is believed that hereditary, environment, infections, immune system weakness and allergies influence their growth.

Whilst skin tags are harmless and non-cancerous (benign), they are commonly mistaken as skin cancer growths and should always be examined by a vet who my need to perform a biopsy to identify if the growth is malignant.

Most skin tags won’t need removing unless they are causing your pet discomfort, become irritated or infected. Vet’s can easily perform a removal procedure which is non-invasive and quick involving cauterization or freezing. The skin tags will simply fall off after treatment.

It’s important to regularly check your pet’s skin. The sooner you notice any growths or changes, the better the chances of early diagnosis and recovery.

When to see a vet

It’s advisable to consult your vet with any growth to determine whether the growth is a harmless skin tag or more serious. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to the successful prevention of tumors and cancers spreading.

Schedule a consultation with you vet immediately for any of the following:

  • Skin tags that bleed or become infected
  • If there is pain and irritation in the affected area
  • Growths that bleed or resemble wounds and do not heal
  • Dark or black growths, pale or pink growths that are not the color of your pet’s skin
  • Any growths around your pet’s mouth or lips as these can interfere with swallowing or even develop into cancer
  • Any growths or tags that change shape, size, color or appearance

Article reposted from:

Written by: Simone
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