Recently I posted about a new profile we are doing in our office for pets, mainly dogs, as a screening tool for cancer and other inflammatory conditions.
To date, about 96% of dogs are low in blood vitamin D levels, 48% are high in their CRP levels, and 12% are high in their TK levels.
This profile is also quite helpful for pets with cancer to monitor their remissions and alter their treatment regimen based upon changes in the test.
For this discussion, I want to focus on vitamin D levels. The next 2 discussions will focus on the other aspects of testing, the TK and CRP levels.
Vitamin D3 is not simply thought of as a vitamin to protect bones anymore. Instead it has far reaching effects on every cell in the body, regulating metabolism and gene expression. As such, proper levels of Vitamin D 3 can have cancer-protective (and cancer-killing) effects, reduce the chance of infectious diseases such as the flu, and promote good health and proper regulation of other body systems.
Unlike people, pets do not typically make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight and therefore require it in their diets or via supplementation.
While pet food is formulated to have enough vitamin D 3 to prevent vitamin D 3 deficiency disease (rickets,) levels are too low for most pets to maximize health (a goal of holistic doctors.) Testing shows most dogs have blood levels considered insufficient to maximize health and would benefit from supplementation. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to inflammation, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and various infectious diseases.
Exactly how much vitamin D 3 an individual patient requires depends upon the size of the pet, the health of the pet, the presence/absence of disease, and most importantly the pet’s blood level of vitamin D 3. Once vitamin D 3 test results are available, supplementation is given with the goal being to shoot for a blood level of 100 mg/ml (in studies pets with cancers tended to have vitamin D 3 blood levels lower than 100.) Additional testing is done to confirm if the prescribed amount of vitamin D 3, typically given once daily with food, is enough to reach the recommended blood level.
I’m often asked if pets with cancer should continue taking their heartworm and flea medicines. Here’s how I address that situation in my practice, Paws & Claws Animal Hospital.
Unlike conventional doctors who focus on the cancer, holistic doctors focus on the PET…therefore we want to keep the pet healthy while we are also fighting the cancer. I would hate for one of my cancer patients to be cured of cancer only to die of heartworms because we stopped the monthly preventive during cancer treatment…so I always recommend continuing the preventive during the cancer treatment.
However, I rarely prescribe chemical flea medicines for any of my patients. First, these products do not prevent fleas but rather kill them once the flea gets on the pet. At least in my practice fleas are not a big problem so there is no need for regular use of these products. Second, these products, while safe for most pets, are still strong chemicals that last in the pet’s body for a long time. An important part of cancer treatment is detoxification (with herbs, homeopathics, and autosanguis therapy.) I want to avoid unnecessary toxins since cancer itself (and cancer chemo/radiation) are all toxic. There is no need to add extra toxins to my cancer patients unless absolutely necessary (the pet is covered with fleas and ticks.) Since natural flea control, esp in the environment, is safe and non-toxic, I rarely see the need for topical chemicals (my all-in-one and itch relief shampoos plus the natural flea spray are all I typically prescribe for most pets.)