Key steps for cancer prevention
Health, health, and health again, was the topic of 2020, and it seems it will continue to be the centre point of 2021 as well.
When our dogs are young, we don’t think as much about the seemingly far-off future, but as time progresses and the fifth, tenth, and hopefully fifteenth birthdays pass by, the fear and worry grows exponentially, decreasing the quality of our life, our dog's lives, and possibly health as well.
In my writing, I often propose that when worries come up we can dissipate them by examining the feeling closer, as if it were an object, inspecting it to see where the feeling of worry resides in our body.
It may help to close your eyes and try to feel where the location is. Is it in the throat? Your chest, shoulders, or abdomen? When you locate the feeling, imagine that the sensation has a “volume button” and turn it up, instead of pushing it away, which is what most of us would subconsciously do. Paradoxically, when we turn the "worry volume up" the feeling of worry fizzles up and disappears.
You can use this technique whenever you are concerned about your dog's health and while it takes some practice, it works quite well. If your dog is currently ill, do this exercise 2-3 times per day, for a few minutes and see how much better you, and possibly your dog, will feel.
Just before I started writing this piece, I decided to ask our community of dog lovers on social media the question of what their biggest worry is.
I was surprised to receive hundreds of comments and replies, which was somewhat overwhelming at first, but then got excited because the conversation was a great starting point for our “Dog and Human Health 2021” plan, a path to worrying less and enjoying life more.
My plan is to take the questions and comments and answer as many of them as possible in the upcoming days, weeks, and months. If you are interested in making your own contribution, and sharing your thoughts, you can post them in the comments if you are reading this piece in the blog, or click here to continue reading if you are reading the email format.
Worrying about our loved ones is very much a part of life, and all we can do is continue learning about how to maintain health, and how to worry just right, because either extreme is not the path to better health.
Let me explain with the number one health concern of most people:
In the course of working as a vet, I have not found a caring dog lover who on some level didn't worry about cancer. Some have lost dogs to cancer, others have seen dogs of friends, or human friends and family members, being affected by the big C.
But there is one phenomenon I have noticed working with thousands of dogs and their people. The dogs of people who worry just enough, but not too much, do the best and that the key to preventing cancer is to be concerned about, and focus on, the right things.
Ideally, we should only 'worry' about what we can influence, such as:
- Feeding our dogs healthy natural non-processed food. Click here for the Healthy Recipe Maker.
- Making sure that our dog’s diet is not depleted of essential nutrients. Click here for more info.
- Detox to help the body eliminate toxins and heavy metals. Click here for my detox protocol.
- Finding a chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist to maintain proper energy flow of the spine, and also combing, massaging and exercising in the right way if your dog is getting older. Click here for more details.
Learning about what predisposes our dogs to cancer, and how to prevent it. Click here for more details.
Why does cancer happen?
Cancer most commonly affects middle-aged and senior dogs. As the body ages, its ability to detect and repair errors in DNA transcription decreases (a process that can be compared to copying and "pasting" during new cell growth). These DNA transcription errors lead to the production of defective cells, which can go "rogue" when the less effective immune system fails to detect and destroy them.
Ageing also causes a decrease in available cellular energy, and a drop in the levels of sirtuin enzymes that are responsible for maintaining the body’s vitality and slowing down the ageing process.
This area of science is still rather unexplored in dogs, and I strongly believe that this is what we need to focus on in 2021 and beyond if we want to reduce cancer rates. Healthy nutrition, supplements, detox, and preventive care, are the foundation of good health, and focusing on how to maintain and improve the body’s own defences, energy, and repair systems, is an important part of the puzzle.
This is what I focus on in my writing, research and overall work. If you have not subscribed to my weekly updates, I invite you to subscribe below.
What to do about the worries we can’t do anything about
I sometimes hear people feeling disappointed that despite doing all they could, their dog still got cancer. Unfortunately, doing "all we can" doesn't provide us with the guarantee of cancer immunity. We can reduce the rates, but we can't prevent it 100% - at least for now.
I agree, it is hard, unfair, and disappointing when life brings us such unwanted and harsh lessons, and it is even harder to lose those we love. I have been there and I know how it feels. Also, no matter what we do, and how healthy our dogs are, one day we will have to say goodbye. I hate to break it to you, but life is a terminal disease and our dogs are not immune to it.
But there is also a silver lining to the fact that our dogs' lives are shorter. I would much rather see Pax go before me than leave him behind, worried that after my death his needs wouldn’t be met. He could also be grieving the same way Shep did when he waited for his deceased owner at the train station for many years.
When dogs get sick with cancer, people often ask what they did wrong. Sometimes, they can see they could have made different choices, but hindsight is 20/20. All that matters is that you did your best. And even then, doing our best is always relative to where we are in life.
Sometimes, people blame themselves for waiting too long to take their dog in to see the vet and get a diagnosis. Other times, people say they suspected something was wrong, but a part of them didn’t want to see what was happening. This is a coping mechanism that no one should be scolded for.
When it comes to caring for our dogs, we are often our own harshest critics. With some exceptions, most dog lovers really do the best they can, and deserve praise, not criticism.
Cancer is not unlike other ailments: liver disease, kidney disease, mobility issues, cognitive challenges, and old age. All of these are an expression of the body’s system, organs and cells natural, gradual decline. Cancer is the result of the same process, it represents a failure of the immune system that becomes ineffective at recognizing and destroying cancer cells.
At the beginning of addressing the #1 worry, the big C, I mentioned dogs who live with people who worry just about “right”, not too much or too little.
This is where we come full circle, back to our emotions and learning about how to worry less. We can do so by learning how to spot our worry and “turn the volume up” to make it dissipate in addition to taking important steps to prevent cancer. If we do this we will be able to enjoy more healthy years with our dogs, instead of worrying about the hypothetical future.
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PS: Here are the key cancer preventive steps mentioned in this article:
- Feeding our dogs healthy natural food.
- Making sure that our dog’s diet is not depleted of essential nutrients.
- Detoxing to help the body eliminate toxins and heavy metals.
- Finding a chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist to maintain proper energy flow of the spine, and also combing, massaging and exercising in the right way if your dog is getting older.
- Learning about what predisposes our dogs to cancer, and how to prevent it.