As Green Juju began, one of my goals was to not only create a product that made adding fresh foods easy for dog owners, but to create a network of resources to educate and empower them to help care for their dogs and share all that I have learned through this journey.
I often get emails from people who have recently received the awful news that their dog has cancer and they are looking for advice and suggestions of how we got through it after hearing Bailey’s story. It has now been three years since Bailey’s diagnosis and this journey began for us, and while I am nowhere near a pro on the topic (I’ve included links to those who are!), I do finally feel like we are on the other side of this and as far as we know Bailey is cancer-free and I believe all that a lot of what we did and the excellent people we had on our team contributed to this outcome and I want to share what we’ve learned with you!
A little background on Bailey:
She was diagnosed with a Synovial Cell Sarcoma, a rare joint tumor, in November 2013, a month before her 9th birthday. Chemo and radiation weren’t shown to be successful with this type of cancer, and amputation was the only option. Bailey was in rough shape at the time of diagnosis with tons of allergies and a generally weak immune system. The biopsy to diagnose the cancer threw her into 3 weeks of systemic yeast infections, bladder infections and ear infections. Although she was only given 3-7 months without treatment, I didn’t feel she was strong enough to go through a major surgery like amputation, so I opted to treat her holistically through diet and holistic medicine to try and strengthen her immune system. Fourteen months later she was healthier than she had been in years with no signs of cancer spread, but still had a tumor and would need the amputation to be cancer free. So she went through with the amputation in December 2014 and bounced back and has been doing great since!
In this post you will find Bailey’s cancer and post cancer care broken into different categories.
Disclaimer: This is my experience with Bailey and should not be taken as veterinary advice. I can’t stress how important it is to find a good holistic vet to work with in addition to your conventional vet. You can find one at AHVMA.
The supplements we used were all prescribed by our holistic vet, and tweaked at each visit based on how Bailey was doing. I will give you the names of supplements we used, but will not be able to provide dosage amounts as this is something a vet needs to prescribe and oversee.
There are two time periods for Bailey: Cancer and Post Cancer
Seven Forests Chih-Ko + Curcuma
Seven Forests Paris 7
Curcumin (the active component of turmeric)
Cod Liver Oil
Host Defense Mushrooms *We used a mushroom blend called Staments 7 at night and rotated through a bottle of individual mushrooms in the morning. They have different properties – Turkey Tail was supposed to be especially good for sarcomas.
Additional Chinese herbs as needed — based on what was going on with Bailey, we used additional herbs to support her needs.
Seven Forests Chih-Ko + Curcuma
Seven Forests Paris 7
Grizzly’s Joint Supplement or Krill Oil
Additional Chinese herbs to support joints and kidneys (apparently they are related in Chinese medicine and that is Bailey’s weakness).
Bailey is fed a raw diet. I am a big advocate for raw feeding and especially in Bailey’s case, I wanted her food to provide nutrients in the least processed and most easily accessible form possible to give her body the fuel it needed to focus on fighting the cancer rather than trying to digest processed food.
We rotate between the following brands: Answers Pet Food, smalbatch and Vital Essentials. Each brand has it’s own benefits, but the thing I like that they all have in common is that they don’t use synthetic vitamins or HPP (High Pressure Pasteurization). This is important to me because I want Bailey to be getting her nutrition from whole food sources in the least processed form possible, and I think it speaks highly of the foods if they are able to meet AAFCO nutritional requirements using whole food ingredients as opposed to adding a synthetic vitamin mix.
We avoided any diets that had high starch vegetables like potatoes or grains, as starch has been shown to feed cancer cells. In terms of smallbatch, this meant avoiding some of the protein mixes which had yams. As far as starch goes, yams are one of the better forms, but I was probably more strict than necessary. These days we have more of an “everything in moderation” approach when it comes to types of vegetables to make sure she has a well rounded diet and is getting a broad range of nutrition
In addition to Bailey’s raw diet, i created an organic vegetable mix with bone broth, coconut oil, ginger and turmeric, which eventually became Green Juju, to add to each of her meals. This blend is juiced and then blended to break down the cell walls and make the nutrients easily assimilated. The ingredients provide anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidtant, detoxifying and immune boosting properties. The ingredients were specifically chosen to target Bailey’s key issues at the time – joint support (she had a joint tumor), digestion (she had a ton of food allergies and we suspected leaky gut), poor immune system (cancer and yeast overgrowth) and skin and coat problems (due to allergies and yeast overgrowth). We consulted with a canine nutrition specialist, Patti Howard of Your Canine Resource, to formulate Green Juju and also provide guidance on Bailey’s diet in general.
In addition to the raw diet and Green Juju, Bailey would get single ingredient novel protein treats. Our favorites are Koda Pet’s Papa Tatanka (found in many independent pet stores around Seattle area) which are bison treats in bison broth, and Sojo’s Simply Goat treats and Fresh is Best duck hearts (these make GREAT natural pill pockets)
During and post cancer Bailey has been doing a few different types of treatments that we have found helpful. While a lot of dogs bounce right back from amputation and go on living their lives, Bailey was 10 when she had the surgery, and had already been pretty tough on her body as a ball obsessed hardcore retriever, so in order to keep her aging body strong and comfortable, we continue to do all of these treatments today.
Acupuncture: This has been helpful for everything from arthritis, to immune boosting, seasonal allergies, and a back injury.
Chiropractic: Being a tripod is hard on the body so Bailey gets a chiropractic adjustment from her holistic vet every 4-6 weeks. It helps keep her spine and shoulders properly aligned since she has to compensate differently on three legs.
T-Touch: If you aren’t familiar with it, “TTouch – the Tellington TTouch – is a method based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence – a little like “turning on the electric lights of the body.”
When Bailey had her tumor, you could actually feel the heat leave her tumor during these treatments and she walked significantly better afterwards. We still go for maintenance appointments (obviously not on her leg anymore), but she seems to respond well to it.
NAET: another unusual treatment, but probably the coolest thing I have been introduced to, so much that I go weekly for myself for the last two years! NAET is a treatment to “alleviate allergies of all types and intensities using a blend of selective energy balancing, testing and treatment procedures from acupuncture/acupressure”
We have continued to do NAET with both dogs whenever they seem to have an acute allergic reaction, but when Bailey had cancer, it was especially important because any underlying allergic reactions or sensitives she had was taking her body’s energy away from fighting cancer. We found all sorts of reactions to common things she encountered every day like grass, mold, dust, etc… It is fascinating and so beneficial. Here is great post by our holistic vet on her experiences with treating patients with NAET.
Swim Therapy: Bailey is a senior dog (will be 12 this week!) but she has the energy of a 3 year old. Unfortunately her mind and body are not on the same page and she just can’t run for miles and miles like she used to, so the underwater treadmill is a great way for her to get exercise and maintain muscle tone (so important for a senior tripod, and any dog of any age!) during the colder winter months or when we can’t get to a beach.
The first time I met Bailey she was two weeks old. I went and saw her once a week until she was ready to come home. You could say that we are pretty bonded, and happen to share some of the same personality traits. One of those is our stubbornness. Our acupuncturist joked that this trait is likely what has gotten Bailey through all that she has been through. Her will to live and my refusal to give up on her.
When Bailey was first diagnosed with cancer I didn’t take the news as the next turn of events in life. I absolutely refused to accept it. Without a doubt, I knew with everything in me that I could not live without Bailey and losing her just wasn’t an option. Of course I knew someday I would have to, but not yet, she wasn’t even 9 yet, it wasn’t her time.
I admit that at the time I thought I was going to “fix” her. Over time, the plan was modified, as most plans are, and while I didn’t “fix” her tumor and she did eventually have to have her leg amputated, I learned a ton and I have a healthier and happier dog today who I don’t think would be here today otherwise.
It sounds crazy, and probably is, but I really believe that she felt knew how much I loved her and needed her, and she fought with everything she had in her. If you’ve read this far, or even if you just skimmed to the end, I have no doubt that you have that love for your dog too. As crazy as it sounds, tell them, fight for them, advocate for them, have an open mind about crazy alternative treatments and don’t give up.
If you are in the Seattle area and would like the names of people we’ve worked with, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be more than happy to send you our list of amazing caregivers.
*Green Juju is a company that I own, but aside from that, all products mentioned in here are just because we use them and love them, we haven’t been paid to say so!