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

Groundbreaking study aims to unravel canine cancer mystery

December 18th, 2014

It’s estimated one in three dogs will get cancer in its lifetime, according to the Canine Cancer Foundation. But veterinarians say the percentage can be even higher in some breeds, like Golden Retrievers. Experts are hoping to change that, and possibly uncover clues about cancer in humans, too.

Lisa DeBurle and her husband are raising their third Golden Retriever, named Luna. They know the odds are against them.

“With two-thirds of Goldens dying from cancer, there’s a very good chance we’ll lose her to that,” DeBurle said.

Cancer claimed the couple’s first two Golden Retrievers, Sasha and Riley, only years apart. DeBurle says she agonized over getting Luna.

“We don’t have kids,” DeBurle said. “The dogs were our family.”

In the end, they decided to try again. Only this time, the couple also wanted to help others.

On the advice of Green Lake veterinarian Dr. Jeb Mortimer, Luna was enrolled in the Morris Animal Foundation’s “Canine Lifetime Health Project,” based in Denver.

“It’s mega-data,” Dr. Mortimer said. “They’re basically trying to figure out environmental trends, genetic trends, and why this breed is faced with these diseases.”

The project is a first-of-its kind, intensive, long-term study of Golden Retrievers. The study will run up to 14 years, and needs 3,000 pure-bred Golden Retrievers. As of mid-November, there was space for 750 more.

Paperwork is heaviest for participating veterinarians like Dr. Mortimer. Information on each of Luna’s visits is documented and shared with the study. Her DNA is on file, and her blood drawn and tested at annual wellness visits.

“There’s a lot of monitoring and documentation, just to make sure it’s a true scientific study,” Dr. Mortimer said.

It’s a commitment for DeBurle, as well. She must ensure Luna is seen regularly for the rest of her life, and largely at her own expense. The study reimburses participants $75 a year to offset the cost of the annual checkup.

But the payoff could be big, and not just for Luna or Golden Retrievers.

“They’re hoping to use this [to understand] cancer in all dogs,” DeBurle said. “And then they have an even bigger dream of it effecting cancer research for humans.”

“The canine model has always been there for human health,” Dr. Mortimer said. “There are a lot of similarities, and we could learn a lot from each other.”

Article reposted from:
By Cayle Thompson

Keep your pet safe during the holidays

December 17th, 2014

Pet parenting can be as crazy as it is fun, especially around the holidays. Add the stress of hosting family and friends, and many pet parents end up ignoring Fido or Fluffy in favor of cooking a feast or wrapping last-minute gifts. So, how do you find balance between preparing for the holidays and tending to your pet?

Image credit: iStock/pyotr021

Rose Hamilton – Chief Marketing Officer at – offers the following tips to keep your pet top of mind during the holiday season.

  • Keep Plants and Goodies Out of Reach: Many traditional holiday plants, like poinsettias and mistletoe, can be harmful to your pet’s health, so be sure to keep these out of reach. Also, refrain from sharing specific holiday treats with your tail-wagger, particularly fruitcake and sugar-free goods, which contain dog-toxic ingredients.
  • Decorate Wisely: Holiday decor can be dangerous for pets, so it’s important to take certain precautions when decorating. Place fresh trees in discreet corners, and keep lights, ornaments and tinsel off the lower branches. Deter your pet from electrical cords by spraying the cords with lemon peel or bitter orange tea.
  • Mind Your Pet’s Manners: Heightened activity at home can affect your pet’s behavior, so it’s important to prepare. Hosting small gatherings prior to the holiday can help reinforce good manners. If you know your pet won’t hold back his excitement, set aside a safe room with a bed, water, toys and some treats where he can stay during your event.
  • Get the Right Travel Gear: Crates are useful for all forms of travel, but if flying, be certain to use an airline-approved shipping crate. Take all health records with you, and ensure that your pet is wearing a collar and tag with appropriate contact information.
  • Give Back with Gifts: While toys and treats are always welcomed by our furry relatives, consider a comfortable bed or deluxe grooming session to pamper your pet instead. Older pets may especially benefit from a therapeutic bed or massage.

Article reposted from:

Scorpion Venom Can Help Save the Lives of Dogs with Cancer

December 15th, 2014

Not only can scorpion venom make us sick, but one forward whip of the creature’s tail delivers a sting that strikes like flame.

How ironic, then, that venom from a scorpion species known as the deathstalker is credited with prolonging the lives of a group of dogs, including three named Whiskey, Hot Rod and Browning.

At Washington State University, clinical trials of “tumor paint,” a product that lights up cancer cells, are proving beneficial in treating canines.

The re-engineered molecule found in the venom of the deathstalker scorpion latches onto malignant tumors, making the diseased tissue glow brightly and distinctly against normal tissues. Consequently, surgeons are better able to detect – and remove – cancerous cells while leaving healthy ones behind.

Saved a leg

Phase 1 of the trials involved administering tumor paint intravenously to 28 canine cancer patients prior to surgery, said William Dernell, professor and chair of WSU’s veterinary clinical sciences.

“These were people’s pets that had developed cancer spontaneously, not in a lab,” he said.

One of those pets was Browning, a then-10-year-old chocolate Lab who underwent surgery at WSU’s veterinary hospital to remove a large sarcoma on her leg. Using tumor paint and an infrared camera, the surgery team was able to remove the cancerous cells that glowed bright green – thereby sparing the leg from amputation, said Dernell, who oversees the clinical trials.

Browning, left, has returned to hunting, while Whiskey is chasing scorpions. (Photos by Valorie Wiss, WSU veterinary clinical sciences)

Browning, a hunting dog who lives with her owners in Spokane, was able to return to her outdoor activities.

“The fluorescent substance prefers tumor cells over normal cells, allowing us to define the borders of where a tumor begins and where it ends,” Dernell said. “We’re always hearing about some new compound that targets tumors. From what we’ve seen, this one really does.”

People, too

Pediatric oncologist Jim Olson developed and patented tumor paint at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as a way to help people, but also the pets they love, he said.

“Many animal tumors resemble those that arise in humans so it only makes sense for the two groups to reap the benefits that tumor paint can provide during cancer surgery,” he explained. “As WSU uses the technology to help dogs, the dogs provide information that’s applicable to human cancers.”

Four years ago, Olson launched the Seattle-based company Blaze Bioscience as a way to test and commercialize the technology. Not long afterward, he contacted Dernell about conducting clinical trials at WSU. The results were so promising that the second phase will include enrolled feline patients as well, said Dernell.

If that seems an impressive achievement for a compound whose main ingredient is found in the venomous stinger of a scorpion, then consider this: In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved tumor paint for study in human trials. The product will be used on an estimated 21 people diagnosed with brain or spine tumors, said Olson.

“I predict that in a decade or so, surgeons will look back and say, ‘I can’t believe we used to remove tumors by only using our eyes, fingers and experience,’” he said. “Those hidden deposits of 200 or so cancer cells? They won’t go undetected.”

Scorpions’ new admirers

They didn’t go undetected in Hot Rod, a 10-year-old pit-bull mix who had skin cancer nodules removed at WSU, or Whiskey, another pit-bull mix who underwent surgery for two large mammary carcinonomas nearly two years ago.

Whiskey remains cancer free, said owner Terry Dillon, who decided to enroll her in the clinical trials after he learned of her diagnosis.

“I was afraid I’d have to have her euthanized, but then they told me about this tumor paint and how it might increase the odds of getting all the cancer out. I said yes, absolutely yes, I’ll sign her up.”

Hot Rod poses with WSU veterinary surgeon William Dernell, who oversees the tumor paint clinical trials.

Dillon recently moved to Arizona to care for his aging mother. Whiskey, his caramel-colored dog with deep brown eyes, went with him. As if scorpion venom helping to prolong her life isn’t peculiar enough, now there’s another unusual twist to this story.

Under starlight in Dillon’s desert-landscape backyard, Whiskey chases and pounces on scorpions.

“I’ve even seen her draw them into her mouth. I don’t know how in the world she does it,” he said. “Or why.”

Article reposted from:
By Linda Weiford, WSU News

She Didn't Cry When Her Dog Got Cancer...She Did THIS Instead!

December 14th, 2014

Anyone who has had a pet pass away knows just how devastating it can be. Suddenly, one of your closest friends is gone. It’s especially worse when you know that they are sick or possibly suffering. Animals can’t communicate their feelings, and we can’t explain what’s happening to them.

Meet Romeo! He didn't let cancer get him down.

Riina Cooke, 32, was devastated when she found out her 9-year-old boxer, Romeo, was diagnosed with bone cancer. She was told her friend only had about four months to live. His form of cancer, Osteacarcoma, is only treatable through amputation, and Rocky was too old to heal from such drastic surgery.

Riina spent the first few days completely devastated. She says, “I was just so upset the first few days. I needed something to occupy my mind.”

She decided that the best thing for both of them was to enjoy Romeo’s last few months by celebrating him and all the joy he brought into her life. She made a “bucket list” for Romeo to ensure he enjoyed his remaining time with her.

If you’re not familiar, a “bucket list” is a list of activities one wants to do and places one wants to see before “kicking the bucket.” Romeo’s bucket list involves some truly adorable activities.

Scroll down for some heartwarming photos of this loving dog as he sees some of his final wishes come true. Though he has sadly crossed “the rainbow bridge,” his legacy lives on through his Facebook page.

Please SHARE this touching story with a loved one today.

Romeo’s family made sure he was able to accomplish everything on his bucket list…like meeting Santa!

He got to try some beer in a pub with his dad.

The Canadian boxer always wanted to visit America!


…and ice cream!

Romeo went on his first date too.

With only four months to live, his family knew this was the last time he’d get to celebrate the holidays.

And New Year’s Eve…

…and Valentine’s Day…

What a lovely, lucky dog! Every dog should get to see his or her bucket list come true!

Story reposted from:
By Todd Briscoe

Dog lover spends more money for her dogs than her on Christmas presents

December 12th, 2014

A dog lover has spent an amazing £2,000 on Christmas presents for her pampered pooches.

Stephanie Mariam, 21, lavished expensive gifts on her pint-sized Pomeranians, Harvey Moon, age 3, and Connie, age 2, from crystal dog collars and luxury beds to the ultimate dog’s Christmas dinner.

Steph with Harvey and Connie

Stephanie revealed she has spent more on her dogs than she did on her own family.

The extravagant Christmas list includes two £700 doggie beds, two £200 Swarovski crystal collars and leads, £450 worth of clothing, £250 worth of toys, two £230 dog-friendly bags and £170 worth of accessories including hair bows, brushes and bowls.

Loved: Harvey and Connie must be amongst the UK's mot pampered pets

At home, it’s become a family tradition on Christmas day for Stephanie to present her dogs with extra-large bones while they lay in their new luxury beds.

The dogs, who usually start their day by opening the last window of their advent calendar, even join the family for Christmas dinner complete with all the doggy trimmings.

Stephanie who lives with her parents in Bournemouth, Dorset, said: “Harvey Moon and Connie will spend every waking hour with us at Christmas because they are a part of the family.

“They both love Christmas – especially the food and the cuddles.

“They will have their own stocking, which we open whilst in bed, and they will join us for present opening in the morning in their doggy onesies.

“We give them just what every dog wants on Christmas, love, food and cuddles, with a bit of extra pampering diva style, of course.”

Tradition: The dogs even join the family for Christmas dinner complete with all the doggy trimmings

“I don’t really spend much money on myself, I’m a fairly easy going person, but my dogs take first priority.

“At the end of the day, I look after my money, I don’t go out partying or drinking, so ultimately, it’s up to me if I want to spoil my dogs.”

But for Stephanie, her dogs are for life not just for Christmas and she spoils them with fancy clothes, gifts and presents all year round.

And she works an exhausting 52.5hours per week as a mental health nursing assistant and dance instructor, to fund her pampered pooch’s lavish lifestyles.

Earlier this year, canine crazy Stephanie splashed out £10,000 on a party for her four legged friends to celebrate Connie becoming a new member of her family.

Spoiled: Stephanie says she spoils them with fancy clothes, gifts and presents all year round.

The £10,000 sum went towards a fire dancer, customized doggie outfits, a party planner and a red carpet for a party which would have matched the decadence of a celebrity’s.

She said: “People might say that spending this much on my dogs is excessive, but I think it’s justified.

“My parents are happy with the way I spend my money, they know I work two jobs, one of which is full time and they know I’m saving for my future.

“I’m living within my means so the number of hours I work justifies the money I spend on my doggies.”

Steph said: “My dogs are part of my family and I’d do anything for them.

Story reposted from:
By: Joshua Nevett

Benefits and Disadvantages of Choosing the BARF Diet for Dogs

December 9th, 2014


The dog BARF diet, biologically appropriate raw food, focuses on feeding your dog food that has not been processed and matches a diet that dogs ate before becoming domesticated pets.

What is a BARF diet for Dogs?

In an effort to provide their dogs with quality food, many owners have made the switch to a BARF diet. The acronym sounds less than appealing, but it stands for bones and raw food or biologically appropriate raw food. The philosophy behind a BARF diet is that dogs should be offered a nutritional plan that resembles the diet that their ancestors ate in the wild: uncooked meat, edible bones, organs, and plants. The practice remains a bit controversial, but modern sled dogs typically eat a BARF diet because raw meat is readily available in the wilderness, and supporters use this evidence as reason to pursue a raw feeding plan.

Are There Benefits to a BARF Diet?

Supporters of the BARF movement report positive changes in their pets’ overall health. Most BARF diet literature says that raw foods can provide:

  • A shiny coat
  • Healthy skin
  • Clean teeth
  • High energy levels
  • Smaller stools

While there is little scientific evidence to support these claims made by BARF proponents, the number of advocates of raw feeding are growing rapidly. Owners take comfort in knowing precisely what their dogs are consuming and knowing that the food they offer their pet is not processed or full of additives and preservatives. There are entire online communities dedicated to raw feeding, and owners typically stand by their claims that raw diet improves canine health.

Are There Risks to a BARF Diet?

Any time an animal consumes raw meat, there is a risk of bacterial contamination. Additionally, a BARF diet does not ensure balanced nutrition. Owners must work with a dog nutrition expert or veterinarian to develop a supplement plan that will ensure the dog is getting the right balance of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, bones are always a choking hazard, and some can splinter, leaving the dog at risk for a torn GI tract.

To get around some of these risks, many owners adopt a partially-raw diet, providing their dogs with cooked meat instead of raw meat, and leaving fruits and vegetables as the only raw ingredients. Other owners include some kibble in the dog’s raw diet to help include some of the essential vitamins and minerals that aren’t provided in the BARF plan.

How to Switch to a BARF Diet?

Owners interested in adopting a BARF diet for their dogs should conduct as much research as possible before selecting a plan. There are hundreds of variations of the BARF diet, so it will be important to choose a plan that meets a family’s budget, comfort level, and provides the maximum amount of nutrition. It can be useful to work with a dog nutritionist that specializes in raw feeding plans.

As with any dog food switch, the change will have to happen gradually to help the dog adapt. Raw foods will be introduced slowly into the dog’s regular kibble meals. Over time, more raw food will be added as kibble is subtracted. A raw feeding plan is a personal choice. As long as the owner is watchful and safe, and consults with a vet or nutritional expert on how to provide nutritional balance, owners can feel comfortable making the switch to a BARF diet.

Article reposted from:

Kermie the dog lives long enough just to see her dad

December 8th, 2014

This one heartfelt reunion that made me cry! Kermie the dog was diagnosed with cancer a month after her soldier dad, Eric, went away on an 8-month deployment. She was given only 2-3 months to live. But she hung on until, finally just before Christmas, Eric came home.

The Best Gift! Kermie the Dog, battling cancer, reunites with Dad. – A Military Homecoming

Eric’s wife wrote:

“We were devastated, to say the least. Kermie was our first child, and we did not think Eric would ever get to see her again.”

“Kermie continued to do okay for several months, surpassing the vet’s estimate for survival. As the end of the deployment drew nearer, hopes for a never-expected reunion began to creep into our minds. However, the tumor in her mouth was making it increasingly more difficult for her to eat and drink.”

“November, homecoming month, was very stressful. We truly did not know if she would make it until Eric returned. The boys and I were doing everything we could to ensure she took her medication and kept her weight up. I was making her home-cooked meals, and at times, hand-feeding her. “

“Twelve days before Eric was due home, we received crushing news – the deployment was being extended indefinitely. I just KNEW Kermie would not make it until Christmas.”

“She hung on.”

“A few days before Christmas, after 9 long months, we received the best gift. It is all any of us wanted for Christmas.”

Although the family thought they would be putting Kermie down within days of his return, Eric was like a “magic pill” for Kermie. She rallied and began to eat and drink again without struggle. A few months later, she celebrated her 12th birthday, and although she was still enjoying her walks and tricks, her tumor was making her life miserable and it was time to say goodbye.

The family shared a wonderful quote from Dr. Seuss that encapsulates this sweet reunion video: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Share this heartwarming family story with your friends and family.

Story reposted from:
Video by:
Jennifer Ralston

Why can you relate to a "gells" belt? To know more in detail read "The Story Behind Gells"

December 5th, 2014

The idea for gells was born several years ago when Richard was in California at business school.

Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, but with a strong interest in philanthropy, he wanted to create a company that could marry the two. In fact, gells was founded on the belief that you can operate a for-profit business with philanthropy at heart.


“Can-Can” who lost her battle to Canine Cancer

Bouncing ideas off his wife, Ashley, who has a background in fashion, accessories and marketing they began brainstorming what their product would be.  After much deliberation, product samples and trips to the garment district in NYC they settled on a belt.  What better place to start than the accessory that can really “gel” your look together. They wanted bright colors that would make a statement and appeal to a wide audience.

The company logo was the easy part; our bouvier de flandres, “can-can,” who lost her battle to canine cancer at far too young an age. As such, doing what we can to find a cure for canine cancer is just one of our goals as a company and we were proud to have NCCF as one of our first partner charities to come on board.

5% of the pre-tax purchase price of each Purple Belt sold goes to benefit NCCF

The gells signature belt is eye-catching, yet understated, and versatile enough for almost any occasion. It’s meant to be worn for an active day outside on the golf course, fishing, hunting, or for a social occasion.  It’s for young and old, men and women.  5% of the pre-tax purchase price of each purple belt sold goes to benefit NCCF.

Watch for more colors and charities to come soon!

Twitter: @gellsusa
Facebook: gells
gells belts is available online at

Cancer prevalent in pets but treatable, says veterinarian

December 4th, 2014

About 50 percent of dogs and 33 percent of cats age 10 years and older will develop cancer. Although it is very prevalent in these animals, a Kansas State University veterinarian says depending upon the type of cancer, it may be very treatable and doesn’t have to be a life-limiting disease.

Mary Lynn Higginbotham, assistant professor of oncology in the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says any breed is at risk of developing cancer. Common types of cancer found in pets are also common in humans: Lymphoma, Melanoma and Osteosarcoma, for example.

“There are certainly some dog breeds that the Veterinary Health Center has noticed have a tendency to develop tumors, but it varies from tumor to tumor,” Higginbotham said. “Osteosarcomas are the primary bone tumors we see in the limbs, most commonly in the front legs of large dog breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, Labrador retrievers and Rottweilers.”

An overall change in the behavior of your animal could be an indication of cancer. Symptoms to watch for include:

  • Lumps or bumps that grow or change.
  • Wounds that won’t heal, such as on the skin of the face or the toe.
  • Lameness that is persistent or recurrent.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing.
  • Bleeding from a body opening such as the mouth, nose or rectum.
  • Offensive odor, particularly from the mouth.
  • Difficulty breathing or going to the bathroom, such as straining to urinate or to have a bowel movement.
  • Lethargy or loss of stamina.

Treatment options for dogs and cats are similar to what humans receive. Higginbotham says veterinarians will consider surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or immunotherapy, but that these therapies usually have fewer side effects in the animals than in humans.

“The majority of our drugs used for chemotherapy are the same drugs used in people, but we are very careful about the dose,” Higginbotham said. “We use the amount of dose needed to maximize the response, yet limit the dose so we can diminish the potential for side effects as much as possible. Overall, less than 20 percent of our patients actually need supportive therapy because of a side effect from the treatment. The majority of animals we treat with chemotherapy or radiation therapy have very minimal side effects and those are usually short term.”

If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior, contact a veterinarian.

Article reposted from:
Provided by:
Kansas State University