Posted: Mar 05 2009
Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells on or within the body. The cell mass may be malignant or benign, and it may be localized or may invade adjacent tissue and spread throughout the body. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, the first steps in cancer prevention include awareness and early detection. In addition, many holistic veterinarians agree that a healthy immune system is a major factor in remaining cancer-free.
Access to clean water, healthy food and avoidance of environmental toxins and stress are just some of the ways in which dog owners can support the development of their pet’s immune system. The following suggestions are just some of the ways in which people can create and maintain healthy lifestyles for their companion animals.
Diet & Nutrition
Clean drinking water is essential for dogs and humans alike. Not only does water help nourish the body, it cleanses and de-toxifies all of the body’s complex systems and keeps the mind alert. Making sure your dog has a ready supply of clean drinking water is a must.
Additionally, many pet care professionals argue that providing your dog with the best possible diet is one way to ward off disease. More and more people are turning to home-cooked and raw (frozen and dehydrated) diets in place of traditional store-bought kibble. BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) enthusiasts maintain that raw feeding is the best way to achieve optimal health for your pet. Many new options are now available for pet owners including dehydrated raw food which requires significantly less preparation time on the part of the owner, while providing a wholesome and well-balanced meal.
Nutritional supplements, in addition to feeding minimally processed, high-quality food, create a foundation for a healthy immune system. Supplements including fish oil, pro-biotics and medicinal herbs lend support to the immune system and can help reinvigorate the body by facilitating the elimination of toxins and tissue repair.
No one can deny the role that environment plays in our lives. With so many people and dogs living in crowded city-centers, it’s no wonder we long for an idyllic country retreat.
Pollution and toxins are significant factors that affect our quality of life. As we have learned, contaminants such as second-hand smoke, exhaust fumes, proximity to high-current power lines, pesticides and even common household cleaners are all known to cause cancer in animals. Even topical flea and tick treatments (which are essentially poison) put your pet at risk. By limiting exposure to these damaging influences, we can help lower the risk of cancer.
Routine vaccinations can also weaken the immune system. Holistic veterinarians agree that avoiding annual vaccinations is the best course of action. Even veterinary schools are no longer recommending yearly vaccinations for dogs and cats. If you are concerned that your pet will be at risk for a specific illness, your vet can check the effectiveness of prior vaccinations through blood titer tests.
Furthermore, the over-prescribing of antibiotics and steroids in both human and canine populations serves to mask symptoms of illness while failing to address underlying causes. Over the long term, this leads to a weakened immune system that is more susceptible to disease.
An important component of a healthy lifestyle, exercise is crucial to achieving and maintaining a strong immune system. Regular exercise strengthens muscles, increases flexibility, stimulates the mind and improves circulation allowing the body rid itself of harmful toxins.
Providing regular exercise not only helps build the bond between you and your dog, it facilitates weight management (obesity is a contributing factor in some cancers) and stimulates the lymph system. This system is responsible for “cleaning” the blood by delivering toxins to the lymph nodes and filtering bacteria and other poisons out.
Illness can be exacerbated by high levels of stress. By providing a safe, loving home for your dog, you can do much to reduce the stress of daily life. Positive reinforcement training methods along with clear, consistent communication and a balanced routine all help create a stable emotional environment for you and your dog.
Reducing the risk of cancer in dogs involves a holistic approach that takes diet, exercise and environment into consideration. Dogs need a healthy immune system to help fight illness and avoid cancer. A multi-faceted approach to cancer prevention may be the most effective means in keeping your dog healthy, happy and most of all cancer-free.