Holistic Medicine’s Place in Cancer Treatment

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A few weeks ago, we took Maggie to see Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a veterinarian who specializes in holistic medicine treatment options. He is also an active blogger, so you may have come across his blog or writings in other places. We are fortunate that he practices within the same group as Maggie’s veterinary oncologist, so we were anxious to discuss his thoughts on Maggie’s treatment and how we might optimize or enhance it with holistic methods.
holistic medicine


What does Holistic medicine mean and how can it help our dogs?

Holistic medicine is defined as: …a diverse field of alternative medicine in which the “whole person” (or in our case, “whole DOG”) is focused on, not just the malady itself. (Wikipedia) In Maggie’s case, it means a focus on everything, not just curing the cancer, or alleviating the pain in her leg. It incorporates many different aspects:

  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care and massage
  • Herbal remedies
  • Homeopathy
  • Nutition

Acupuncture can be used to reduce or alleviate pain and discomfort resulting from the disease or improve the health of the dog’s immune system.
Chiropractic care has been used for many years with humans. It comes from Greek words ‘cheir’ (which means ‘hand’), and ‘praxis’ (which means ‘done by hand’). It is manual manipulation of the spine to heal and restore the relationship between the spine and the nervous system of the body to improve overall health.
Herbal remedies work to enhance nutrition and the overall body synergy. They can be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.
Homeopathy is natural preparations designed to cure a specific malady. According to WebMD, it operates under the theory of “like cures like” — that symptoms of disease can be treated with preparations, in low concentrations, that cause the same symptoms.
Nutrition is obviously a huge component in any animal’s health and well being. A dog with a compromised immune system is susceptible to all sorts of issues, proper nutrition at least keeps their body well fed.
Our visit with Dr. Mahaney was very thorough. He spent over an hour with Maggie, examining her and fully understanding her background, her life with us the last three years and how she’s been handling her cancer and subsequent treatments. He presented us with a long and thorough list of recommendations for her that we will share as we examine them and decide on a course of action for her.
The best part of the exam was Dr. Mahaney’s overall assessment that: “she certainly appears as though she has a very high quality of life despite her cancer diagnosis”. That’s been our goal with all of our dogs! We have sought treatment for all of your dogs from a holistic vet, we’ve treated their arthritis with acupuncture and laser therapy. We’ve also utilized holistic medications for pain, stress and intestinal distress and have always been pleased with the results.
Stay tuned for more on this topic. Would love to hear your stories of holistic treatments you have used.

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  1. Glad to know the evaluation went well – and that’s pretty awesome that he spent an hour with her, definitely nice to have a thorough check of background, etc. I’m wishing Maggie all the best & looking forward to hearing more on her treatments – it’s something I know very little about so I’ve been learning a lot.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Scientists Are Saving Africa’s Wild Dogs…With UrineMy Profile

  2. it’s great that he spent so much time and that he tried to find out more about his patient, to know how we live and what things we prefer or dislike is an important part of the treatment too. We once visited the 3e centrum who works after the plan of Dr. Johanna Budwig. It was impressing to see how much we can do with food, supplements and changing some habits…
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog HUGGIN’…My Profile

  3. I’ve really liked working with holistic vets. I feel that the care they gave really enhanced the quality of life for two of my dogs with cancer diagnoses.

    I’ve also been very pleased that my conventional vet is willing to work with alternative practitioners. There’s room for both.

    I’m glad to hear your got confirmation of what you already knew: that Maggie is doing great and feeling good despite having cancer.
    Pamela recently posted…It Takes A Village–To Feed A Dog?My Profile

  4. I think it’s great that Dr. Mahaney spent so much time getting to know Maggie – and you as well! And fantastic that, as Pamela said, he confirmed what you already knew about Maggie’s quality of life.
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky\’s Mom recently posted…MilestonesMy Profile

  5. I was able to speak to a holistic vet about Bentley’s ear infections. She explained hot and cool proteins to me and how they affect a dog’s body. I changed him to a cool protein diet. His ear infections are no longer a problem, which saved him a surgery that our local vet had suggested. I am a brand ambassador for Dr. Harvey’s. They have a complete line of all-natural holistic products. If you decide to order from them, I have a discount code on my site for 10% off.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…FURminator NationMy Profile

  6. This is such an amazing post. Dr. Mahaney is outstanding. Although we haven’t had a cancer diagnosis, I believe in homeopathic medicine for our dogs and have been using chiropractic adjustments and herbs with Sydney. We’re started acupuncture next month. Scout is going to our holistic vet tomorrow to see if we can figure out why he got a fever.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…3 Reasons I Fed My Raw Fed Dog “Kibble”My Profile

  7. The diagnosis is important, but it is so important they spent so much time with you really trying to understand how Maggie lives.
    Emma recently posted…Did We Survive Cabin Life In The North Woods?My Profile

  8. Great news! We are huge believers in holistic medicines and use therapeutic grade essential oils to support ourselves and our pups on a daily basis!
    Kaitlin-SheSpeaksBark recently posted…Comment on {Wordless Wednesday} Foxy Explorer by zoepheeMy Profile

  9. Holistically, I give MSM (6000 daily) for joint pain and inflammation, and I have used Therapeutic Essential Oils for other issues. Glad your visit went well.

  10. I love how much time he spent with Maggie…that is something we don’t often get with our regular vet. I keep thinking about holistic medicine, and wondering if it’s something I should pursue for the girls’ arthritis. I have often felt that traditional and holistic medicines both have a place, but I haven’t really pursued the holistic aspect very much. I look forward to reading more about how this all goes with Maggie (and I am so pleased that she is doing so well!).
    Jan K recently posted…Active, Happy, & Healthy with #PinnacleHealthyPetsMy Profile

  11. I very much think that treating the whole person/dog is so important. I believe in a lot of alternative therapies and think that our minds and the food we eat and how we treat our bodies is so important to our health and our pets health.
    Julie recently posted…SmileMy Profile

  12. I love that overall assessment too! We used acupuncture for our dog with bone cancer, and it seemed like it helped her.

  13. Nothing wrong with alternative medicine when it comes to the health and well being of the fur ones we love. I am so glad Maggie is doing so well it makes me smile. You guys are doing great with all her treatments and care!
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  14. Your experience sounds very much like ours. I’m a big believer in holistic care for humans and animals. Jeffie especially benefited from chiropractic adjustments.
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