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How To Help Your Pet Beat Cancer: A Tribute to Blue

My cancer patients who have done the best have had dedicated guardians who focus on them with love, a species-appropriate diet and blended dark leafy greens potent in antioxidants. This is a tribute to Blue, a chocolate Labrador retriever with a pet mom who truly believed her dog did not have an expiration date stamped on his paw!

Blue was presented to me for a consultation and treatment plan after his mom was told his post-surgical diagnosis was terminal cancer. Blue’s spleen contained a large mass and was removed. Histopathology revealed the malignancy to be hemangiosarcoma and the ER specialists told Blue’s mom that despite the successful splenectomy, Blue had only three months to live. This is a typical expectation for this type of cancer in dogs and conventional adjunctive treatments, such as chemotherapy, do not substantially increase survival times.

It has become common knowledge that cancer feeds on carbs. Humans and pets do best on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets. Even vegans have learned that the American food pyramid is upside down! Knowledgeable vegetarians have transformed their once high-grain, high-carbohydrate diets into high-protein diets using more animal-friendly foods, such as quinoa, chia and hemp. In the same way, our carnivore counterparts need to stay away from grains and mimic prey consumption with diets high in protein and quality fats. A fresh, raw diet is one upon which a healthy dog or cat will thrive and a patient with cancer will be given the opportunity for added longevity.

Many years ago, Hill’s pet food company performed a study which compared quality of life and longevity between two groups of pets with lymphoma, another common malignant cancer of dogs, cats and humans. One group was fed a conventional dry, kibble diet. The other group was fed a balanced, starch-free, meat-based diet. The group eating the meat diet had significantly better quality of life and longevity compared to the group which consumed the more “sugary” kibble diet.

When Blue began his cancer-fighting program, he had been eating a “high-quality” pet retail, dry, kibble diet. His mom promptly changed him to a commercial, balanced raw diet which contained meat (flesh, organs and ground bone) and a small amount of blended fruits and vegetables. Typically these diets are 95 percent meat, organ and bone and only 5 percent vegetation. This is a very appropriate mix for even the strictest feline carnivore. To this wonderful meat-based diet, devoid of starches, it is especially helpful to add whole-food sourced antioxidants.

Antioxidants are free-radical scavengers. They are typically vitamins such as A, C and E which are involved in many body processes which can heal and regenerate tissues and even facilitate apoptosis (death) of cancer cells. Ideally, these should not be synthetic, laboratory-derived vitamins. It is best for a nutritional vitamin boost to be derived from real foods which contain whole vitamin complexes, complete with all their nutritional cofactors. This presence allows for the body to recognize and utilize nutrients to their full potential. In fact, even repetitive, synthetic, laboratory-derived vitamins can be toxic!

Blue’s mom should be applauded for her diligence with the addition of dark, leafy, blended greens day after day to the bowl of Blue’s meaty meals. She purchased a wonderful variety of organic vegetables, such as kale, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, the convenient spring mixes — always avoiding the more sugary root veggies and fruits. If any fruits are fed to a cancer patient, they should only be the high antioxidant, pesticide-free gogi berries, blue or black berries, or cranberries. Avoid apples, pears, bananas and even strawberries. Basically, feed a low-glycemic diet, which would also be very desirable for a diabetic.

Blue’s cancer-fighting protocol also included a myriad of whole food sourced immune-supportive supplements. Among these were a commercial blend of medicinal mushrooms (reishi, shitake, cordyceps), a western herbal constituent artemisinin from worm wood, transfer factor derived from colostrum, mother’s first milk, and a Chinese herbal formula with a cancer-fighting reputation called Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang, modified.

Blue was given his fatal diagnosis in May 2005. Blue lived to be 16 years old and finally passed naturally at home in March of 2014. He lived almost nine years beyond his diagnosis! This is written in memory of Blue and to honor the impact that he and his loving mom have made, not only on the quality and longevity of his own life, but on the lives of many other dogs and cats. I have shared this story with many other pet guardians and now with you! Please use these basic principles to help your own pets live well in their life’s journeys.

Jodie Gruenstern DVM CVA has been practicing veterinary medicine in Muskego, Wisconsin since 1987. She is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and food therapist by the Chi Institute. Dr. Jodie is the owner of the Animal Doctor Holistic Veterinary Complex, an integrated, full-service small animal practice. For more info and healthy products visit or

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