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Is There an Herbal Alternative to Prednisone for Mast Cell Cancer?

shaggy dog taking a pillMy dog is currently being treated for mast cell cancer. He’s had a growth removed twice. The second time, it was grade 3. Although all of the tumor and cancer were removed with clean margins, it did invade his lymph system.

He is currently receiving Kinavet, and he is also being given Prednisone, an anti-nausea pill and Benadryl. I am concerned about giving my dog the Benadryl and Prednisone long term. It has already been a little over a month, but he seems to be doing okay (although he’s hungry all the time).

I heard there was a herbal replacement for the Prednisone. Do you know what this is? I’d like to try it.

My veterinary oncologist does not go for anything that smacks of natural or holistic practices. I told her I was putting my dog on the dog cancer diet early on (very low carbs, some fat and high-quality protein), and she was against this, too.

Any advice would be helpful, especially about the Prednisone replacement. Thanks in advance!

– Cynthia

Hi Cynthia,

Thank you for your question.

I’m sorry to hear about your dog’s mast cell tumor (MCT) diagnosis on multiple occasions. This is a very challenging disease to manage, as mast cells are an important part of the immune system’s normal process of managing inflammation and infection in the body. Mast cells have granules containing substances vital to the movement of white blood cells (interleukin), clotting of blood (heparin), control over the permeability of blood vessels (histamine), maintenance of blood pressure (bradykinin) and other functions.

The potential for MCT to “degranulate” and cause a severe and even life-threatening reaction is part of the reason why your dog is on Prednisone and Benadryl. Prednisone is very similar to cortisone, which is naturally made by your dog’s adrenal glands. Currently, his adrenal glands are not likely making enough to control his disease process. Although there are negative consequences of taking Prednisone, the benefits typically outweigh the side effects in MCT cases.

Additionally, Benadryl (diphenhdyramine hydrochloride) is a very safe antihistamine that can help to prevent some of the sudden-onset negative side effects of MCT “degranulation,” when some or all of the above mentioned substances in MCTs are suddenly released.

Although I’m a holistic practitioner, I recommend my patients stay on these medications as per the recommendation of the veterinary oncologists I work with at Veterinary Cancer Group (VCG).

Regarding an herbal replacement for Prednisone and a cancer-appropriate diet, it’s best that you have a consultation with a veterinarian who is more appropriately trained to advise you on such matters. You can find a holistic veterinarian on the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) website.

Diet is an important part of the treatment process. Your dog’s food should be minimally processed (whole-food based), cooked, freshly prepared and contain real meat muscle protein, appropriate amounts of animal fat (as animal fat is rich in omega 6 fatty acids, which actually promote inflammation), antioxidants and fiber from vegetables and fruit, and some whole grains, as they provide rich sources of vitamins and minerals.

I suggest Lucky Dog Cuisine or having your veterinarian work with you to do a consultation with the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine Nutrition Support Services to make a home-prepared diet.

Good luck,
Dr. Mahaney

PHOTO: Tony Alter

Dr. Mahaney

Patrick Mahaney, VMD, CVA has a thriving veterinary practice in Los Angeles. His clients respond favorably to his combination of Eastern and Western medicine, including acupuncture. In addition to making house calls, Mahaney makes himself available via social media outlets such as his blog and Twitter. He is dog dad to i Love Dogs canine ambassador Cardiff.

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January 25, 2013 By : Category : ASK A VET Cancer DOG NEWS Tags:
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