Cancer.  It’s not something we think about with our pets until we get the diagnosis but it is the leading disease killer of dogs and cats.  According to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine Cancer is now about one in two dogs and one in three cats.

The incidence of cancer appears to be increasing in dogs as it is in people.  One in eight people will now face the diagnoses of Breast Cancer, an increase of 40% in a generation.  The same appears to be true for our pets.

Veterinarian and author of Kindred Spirits http://www.amazon.com/Kindred-Spirits-Remarkable-Between-Animals/dp/0767904311Dr Allen Schoen states,

“From my observation, it appears that there’s a growing incidence of cancer in dogs, just as in people, and it seems to have multifactorial causes: an interaction of genetic predisposition, poor-quality food with possible carcinogens, excessive vaccinations that impact the immune system, and environmental toxins.”

Some things we can immediately take control over and some things we cannot. We cannot control our dog’s genetics after our pets are born.  There are certainly ways we can breed for improved genetics but that’s outside the scope of this post.  We can however look at what we’re feeding our pets and limit their exposure to environmental toxins and we can educate ourselves about the risks and rewards of vaccinations to ensure we’re making the best decisions for our pets.  Even if we do everything right, there are still no guarantees in health, however, we can certainly reduce the risks and help our pets live long and healthy lives.Poodle and hydrant

You Are What You Eat

Good quality nutrition is at the cornerstone for all health issues.  This is especially the case for our dogs and cats.  If you’re eight or 80 lbs what you eat is vitally important to your well being.  Choosing a diet lower in carbohydrates and higher levels of quality protein is key, always putting more emphasis on fresh, lightly processed ingredients.  Adding a good probiotic/digestive enzyme and supplementing with an Omega-3 Fatty Acid is also very important.  Converting over to a raw, fresh, whole foods diet will help dramatically in providing your pet all of the nutrients they require in their whole food state.  Getting your pet on the road to good health with proper nutrition is easier then you would think.  With a little education and preparation you can greatly strengthen your pets immune system through feeding a species appropriate fresh, whole food diet.

White CatLimit the Toxins

Controlling our pet’s environment is critical.  Dogs, like infants and toddlers, explore the world with their mouths plus they’re low to the ground picking up all sorts of toxins in their fur and paws. They absorb chemicals much more readily and in greater concentrations under their tongues.  This gives them a much higher level of exposure.  Also herbicides and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can cause all sorts of issues for your pet including significant issues with their skin and respiratory systems.  Your dog can get a pretty big dose of chemicals just by licking their paws after a walk through a heavily fertilized lawn.  Swimming in contaminated water from runoff in lakes, streams and drainage areas can have serious long-term consequences.

Explore Natural AlternativesNo flea and Tick

Also, look for natural alternatives for many products like flea and tick and take the proper precautions when you cannot avoid certain toxins.  Helping your dog detox during this time can be very beneficial.  Also, consider your pet’s lifestyle.  If they’re at home or in your yard and have minimal exposure opportunities to fleas and ticks and if they’re fed a healthy diet creating a strong immune system you can consider skipping this step all together or look for more natural flea and tick controls for your pet and home.  Remember less is always more when you’re balancing the risks and rewards of everything you do for your pet.

The Vaccine Story – Be informed on the risks and benefits of proper vaccinations.

Understanding the whole picture will you to better understand whether or not you need to continue to vaccinate your pet.  This link is for a series of interviews by Dr Karen Backer and Dr Ronald Schultz, one of the foremost experts in the field of canine and feline vaccinations.  Also, consider getting a titer test for your dog or cat prior to any vaccinations this can help you and your pet decide if any booster vaccinations are necessary.  Many of the core vaccines last between 5-7 years and some for a lifetime.  Educating yourself about vaccine protocols will help you make the best decisions for your pet.

organic rabbit toySafe Toys!

Have you thought about what your dog or cat is playing with? Chemicals in some pet toys can include ingredients like BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates, (used to make plastics more flexible), can leach from dog toys and increase their risk of exposure to carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.  For more information on the environmental concerns of dog toys go to http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news2012/dog-toys

In an upcoming post we’ll be talking about what to do if you suspect a lump or bump on your pet might be Cancer.