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Natural Treatment for Leukemia in Dogs

bunches of herbs on a cutting block

Today’s topic is serious and is close to one of our reader’s hearts. Canine leukemia.

Our reader, Teresa, wrote to us asking about herbal supplements to help make her dog more comfortable.

She writes:

I have a question and maybe you can help me find some answers. My 14-year-old toy poodle was diagnosed with leukemia last March. She has good days and bad days.

I have been told that some herbal supplements can help her feel better and keep the leukemia from progressing by slowing it down.

I have researched several times but have never been able to find anything truly helpful. If you or any of your readers have any knowledge on this it would be much appreciated.

I’m not going to discuss medical treatments for leukemia.

There are plenty of websites that can talk about that.  And you can ask your vet about them.

Important: If your dog has leukemia ALWAYS consult with your veterinarian. These suggestions may help ease pain and suffering, but they are not a cure.

Natural Treatment for Leukemia in Dogs

Instead, the focus of this article is natural remedies and ways to ease the suffering of our dogs while they cope with anemia.

First, I want to let you know there there isn’t a lot of research on how these remedies will affect your dog.

Nearly all of the information I’m finding is about humans.  But some of this information should translate to dogs.

But I extensively cross-checked the information I found. There are lists of herbs that are safe and which are toxic to dogs.  So, if I found something that works for humans, and is considered safe for dogs, I included it.

Second, before you try any of this please talk to your veterinarian.

Like medications, herbs and some foods can react to medicine. They can also react with other treatments. Your vet is the best person to decide if these treatments are safe to try.

Most of what I found works on boosting immune systems. Since leukemia damages your dog’s immune system, the idea is to help protect your dog from other illnesses.

I also found some information suggesting that you may want to treat your dog for gout.

Or rather, for gout symptoms. Gout is very painful. And is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the blood. Leukemia and its treatments can both increase the uric acid in your dog’s blood.

Another thing to note, is that diet and herbs impact health much more slowly than the Western medicine you might be familiar with.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

It can take between 60 and 90 days to see any results from natural treatments.

For any herbal treatments in this article, please be sure that you purchase from a reputable supplier.

You want someone who has a reputation for safety and quality. The last thing you want is a low-quality herb that will make your dog sicker.

Getting Your Dog the Best Leukemia Diet

Golden retriever licking plate while laying down

Now, let’s start simple — with diet.

Antioxidants – Yes

A diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for not only preventing leukemia but also for maintaining a pain-free existence.

Focus on having a diet high in antioxidants. These improve how a patient weathers treatment and helps to shore up the immune system.

Antioxidants are vitamins such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as cartenoids and beta-carotene.

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants. They also contain flavonoids, which we know are anticarcinogenic. Anticarcinogenic is a fancy word for cancer-fighting.

In order to get balanced meals like this you will probably have to go with a high end dog food or make the dog food yourself. Consult with your vet for the best recipe.

Cured Meats – No

While we’re talking about diet, the research points it’s finger at cured meats.

Cured meats contain nitrites and nitrates, both of these increase your risk of cancer, including leukemia.  And both make cancer grow. Cured meats are everything from deli meat to bacon.

If you don’t want to cut cured meats from your dog’s diet, you can buy organic. These are usually made without nitrates or nitrites. And they taste better too.

Herbal Remedies for Leukemia in Dogs

Variety of herbs and bottled oils on a wooden table in a natural setting

I’ve also managed to dig up a few herbs to help.

Alfalfa for Dogs

Alfalfa is one of the few herbs where I found research available specific to dogs.  Alfalfa is used to prevent cancer in dogs because it’s anti-inflammatory and is LOADED with antioxidants.

Several holistic studies support using it to help boost immune function for dogs suffering from cancer.  They also support using it to help ease gout symptoms.

I’ve even got a dosage for you on this one.  For a small dog, such as Teresa’s toy poodle, 1/2 teaspoon of the powdered herb, daily.  Medium dogs should receive 1 teaspoon daily.  And use teaspoons per daily dose for larger dogs.

Burdock Root for Dogs

Burdock is a root with a long history of safety for both dogs and people.  It contains inulin, which helps support the immune system.  Plus, it’s a known treatment for cancer because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Cancer is essentially a condition of intense inflammation — so anti-inflammatories are extremely helpful.

Burdock can often be wild-crafted or found out in the woods.  But with all the pesticides being used in the U.S., I’d be hesitant to use wild burdock.  You can buy it in whole food style stores and online.

You can even buy dried burdock root and make what’s called a decoction.  A decoction is like making a concentrated, over-brewed tea out of an herb.

Here are some basic instructions for making a burdock decoction.  Use either 1-2 teaspoons of the dried root or 2 tablespoons of fresh root.  Combine with 1 cup of water.  Simmer this for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and let stand for at least 10 minutes. Strain this and store in the refrigerator.

To give the decoction to your dog, use this guide.  Use 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight.  You can add it directly to their food.

Calendula (Marigold) for Dogs

Calendula is the herbal name of the marigold.  It’s used in salves and other treatments for sores and wounds.  It can also be used to help support the immune system and liver function.  Since many leukemia treatments are hard on the liver, the extra support should help your dog to feel better.

There is also research showing that calendula can halt tumor growth in some cancers.

For calendula, you want to make an infusion.  This is more like brewing a simple cup of tea.  You bring one cup of water to an almost boil, then pour it over 1-2 teaspoons of the herb.  Let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes and strain.

I’m still looking for a dosage on this one… if you want to try it, see what your vet suggests.

Is Echinacea Safe for Dogs?

Dried Echinacea in a burlap sack on wooden surface with fresh Echinacea flowers and a wooden spoon

I’m including this one on the list as something NOT to use.

In my research, I found a caution against using Echinacea on any dog with leukemia.  Despite its many positive properties.

I found in several places in my research. So if someone recommends you use Echinacea, please do not do it.

Be VERY Careful with Garlic for Dogs

You have to be careful with garlic, too much can be toxic to your dog.

However, in small quantities, garlic is helpful in stimulating the immune system and is also a cancer preventative.

So, if your dog already has cancer like leukemia, it can help the cancer from getting any worse.

The bonus is that garlic is also a tick and flea repellent.  It makes your dog’s blood smell bad to the fleas and ticks so they won’t bite.

For dosages, the safe dose is 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder per pound of food, fed three or four times a week. Or, you can use fresh garlic.

To use fresh garlic, the recommendation is one-half clove for a 10 to 15-pound dog. For a 20 to 40 pound dog, use one whole clove.

A dog who weighs 45 to 70 pounds would eat two cloves per day. For a dog 75 to 90 pounds, you can give them 2 1/2 cloves.  For 100 pounds and over, the dose is three cloves per day.

I recommend smashing it up in their food because I doubt that you’ll be able to get up and eat it straight.

Ginger for Dogs with Cancer

Powdered Ginger in a wooden bowl with a whole ginger root on a wooden table

A lot of people use ginger because it improves blood circulation and blood health.

It does the same thing for dogs.  It helps fight and prevent nausea, stomach pain and another aches and pains. These are all things that dogs on cancer medications can use some help with.

The recommended dosage is based on body weight, 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger per 20 pounds of dog.

Hawthorne for Dogs

I’m including Hawthorne on this list because it is antioxidant.

The great news is that Hawthorne berries taste good, so should not be difficult to get your doggie to eat them.

You can also buy the dried berries and make a tea to pour over your dog’s food.  Or you can buy extractor capsules.

I wasn’t able to find set dosages for dogs, so you’ll want to discuss it with your vet.

Hemp for Dogs

Before you worry about legalities >>> hemp and marijuana come from the same plant family, but they are different varieties.  You can buy CBD oil in most places in the US legally online. Always check your local laws to be sure.

CBD stands for Cannabidiol. CBD is a compound found in the cannabis plant family that is very high in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  The oil can also be a good source of omega-3 and omega six fatty acids.

This one can be used for anxiety, as well as joint pain and arthritis. Joint pain and arthritis symptoms are common for dogs going to chemotherapy or who are taking other leukemia type medications.

It’s also good for combating nausea for your dog. Some reports show that hemp oil can help to speed up the effectiveness of cancer treatments.

I suggest you look for hemp products made specifically for pets. Make sure it has good recommendations, good reviews, and comes with instructions on dosage. And be sure to talk to your vet.

One of our readers recommended Canna-Pet.  I’ve checked out their site, and they look reliable, but please, do your research.

St. John’s Wort for Dogs

St John's Wort flower, pills and dried herb with a wooden mortar and pestal on a yellow background

There’s a lot of hype about St. John’s wort, and with good reason.

It’s antibacterial so it can help with wound healing and help fight infection while supporting your dog’s immune system. But that’s not why it made this list.

I’m listing it here because St. John’s wort can help with anxiety and depression.

It’s no secret that dogs who are ill tend to suffer from either one or both. We want our dogs to be happy, and if a little St. John’s wort can help them to feel better, I’m all for it. The antiviral and immune boost can be a bonus.

I did not find dosages for this one, I’m going to need to keep looking. But your veterinarian may have suggestions.

Turmeric for Dogs

For those with leukemia, turmeric can be helpful.

It’s an antioxidant and is both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. This will help to boost your dog’s immune system.

Turmeric also helps support dogs going through chemotherapy. It protects the heart against the damage caused by the chemotherapy medications.

Plus, turmeric is anticancer. Studies show the turmeric can interfere with cancer formation and progression. It actually interrupts the cancers lifecycle, causing cancer cells to pretty much commit suicide.

The dosages are for giving your dog a pill and are measured in milligrams. Miniature breeds should get 50 mg three times per day. Smaller breeds are 100 mg with medium dogs getting 200 mg and large dogs, 250 mg.  All dosages are three times per day.

One caution, do not overfeed your dog large amount of turmeric.

It can be harmful to their stomach lining if they get too much.  Plus, it had blood thinning properties… so you want to make sure your vet knows that your dog is taking turmeric if they are planning on doing surgery or dental work.

You also want to talk to your vet if your dog is taking corticosteroids or NSAIDs, like naproxen or Advil.

Wishing your dogs all the best health!

Teresa wrote back to us!!

Here is what she had to say.

Thank you so much for the help with my poodle – Ginger.

Because of her advanced age, the Vet recommended not putting her thru any of the chemo or other cancer treatments for the Leukemia so the only other option we had is to put her on medications.

She takes Tramadol, Hydroxyzine, Alprazolam, and Gabapentin daily. She has had stress-related seizures for many years so the alprazolam (Xanax) is to help keep her calm.

It has been a tremendous help because at one time I could not run the vacuum or leave the house without her having a seizure.

The gapentin and tramadol are for pain and are for pain and arthritis. And the Hydroxyzine is for allergies and wheezing.

She has started wheezing real bad about 6 months ago but the good news is that the hydroxyzine makes her hungry so she has gained some weight back that she had lost leading up to her diagnoses.

She is currently fighting a tooth infection which they can’t do any dental work on because of leukemia so she is on antibiotics that upset her tummy. She will be 15 in March and is still has a lot of spirit and is usually active.

I will be talking to her vet tomorrow when I go to get her meds refilled to see what she thinks about the herbs you have discovered.

I think they will be a great help as long as they don’t mix badly with her current meds.

Again Thank You So Much!

The Bottom Line on Natural Treatments for Leukemia in Dogs

Pug wrapped in a pink blanket

Natural treatments can help the way your dog FEELS, but will not cure the leukemia. If your dog has leukemia please seek veterinary treatment.

For more information on the health and safety of your dog, check out our posts Why grain free isn’t right for every dog and 5 Common myths about Grain Free Diets.

 

Sandy
 

An avid dog lover and Puppy Momma to two adorable Miniature Schnauzers, Sandy is also a prolific writer. When she's not spending time with us here at PatchPyppy, she's with her husband, daughter, or step-sons. Writing under the name Sandy Dugan for most publications, she's also an author, artist, and entrepreneur.

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