MY DOG CHUCK
THE MIRACLE POOCH
My dog Chuck has had such a miraculous response to Chinese Veterinary Herbs for bone and lung cancer, I wanted to share his medical story with others who love their animals and would like options for keeping them well.
Chuck was adopted as a 4 year old German Shepherd/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix found near death on the mean streets of Brooklyn. I believe Chuck was an angel fated to enter my life, as our paths crossed at a point when we were both lost desperate broken souls. We ended up saving each other, and it has been a blessing for me to experience the healing power of Love and to be able to care for him into his aging years.
At around 8 years old, Chuck started having some allergic skin problems – itching himself raw. We tried all the various expensive/restrictive diets to address possible food allergies; creams; salves; sprays; Benadryl; Prednisone; injections; etc. Chuck started losing hair on his belly and elbows and his skin turned black. His scratching had become so bad, at one point he ruptured a blood vessel in his ear and needed two subsequent surgeries for hematomas. Later I realized that all his misery could have been easily avoided.
After almost two years of the skin problems, a friend gave me a top quality HEPA air purifier for my bedroom. Within days, all Chuck’s itching stopped completely, and has never returned since. I suspect that environmental allergens caused his dermatitis, as it has never been a problem ever since as long as I keep the air purifier on. This might be worth a try for anyone else who has had a similar problem. UPDATE 2009: I am now thinking the resolution of the itching/allergies might have been due more to also having started the immune boosting Chinese herbs at the same time, since a recent similar itching problem with my dog Merlin was not resolved by the air cleaner, but was with the Wei Qi Booster.
Chuck also started having trouble with hip dysplasia, and at one point could no longer go up and down the stairs. We had x-rays taken, and the Vet said that given what the films showed – he was amazed that Chuck had been able to even walk at all. For about 2 months I carried him up and down the stairs, and sometimes had to pick him up off the ground when he fell into an impossible appearing lateral “splits”.
He got a few cortisone shots, and during this time I also started him on Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate, (note: all color text herein are live links to click on) and after about two months he was doing fine again with the stairs. Several times I have stopped the Glucosamine/Chondroitin wondering if it was upsetting his stomach (as some report), and each time he has been off it – his hips start having trouble again, but get better when I resume the supplement. It has been an amazing treatment for his hip dysplasia/arthritis. (To save money, I have used a “people” version of this supplement that I buy locally which has the same ingredients as the very pricey rip-off “pet” formulas. Calculate dosage based on a 100# pooch = 1 adult human). If your pooch’s stools do seem to get too loose, it might be worth trying a lower dose before giving up on this.
At age 11, Chuck developed an eyelid tumor which was operated on twice to try and remove. It has since grown back and remains to this day without much consequence but was a harbinger of worse things to come.
A few months after the eyelid tumor was treated, Chuck suddenly became lame and was unable to walk at all. When I took him in, X rays revealed that he had a bone tumor in his front leg and his lymph nodes in his front shoulders were enlarged. He was given the painkiller Deramaxx and follow up X-rays and physical examination indicated the cancer had metastasized to his lungs. I was told that leg amputation might let him live comfortably for another 6 months or so until he would succumb to the cancer spreading throughout his body. His medical records were reviewed by Cornell University Veterinary College, and they refused to offer him chemotherapy because they felt his case was too far gone for an older dog. All they could offer was amputation of the leg for the pain, or Deramaxx as long as he could tolerate the drug (which reportedly can cause stomach ulcers).
We went with the Deramaxx which worked almost immediately and very well to relieve the pain, and Chuck was walking fine again, and then it became a waiting game to see when the bone or lung cancer progression would get him (he had also started coughing a fair amount each day), or when he would have to stop the Deramaxx due to stomach upset, and then be put down when the leg pain returned.
After rejection by Cornell, my local Veterinarian asked me if I would consider trying some Chinese Veterinary Herbs. I had tried many ‘alternative’ therapies myself and was open to giving it a try.
For about $50/month, Chuck started taking these three Chinese Herbal medications:
1. Wei Qi Booster (by Dr. Xie’s Jing-Tang Herbal) – a powdered herb that acts as general tonic to help revitalize the body’s own defenses and also helps fight tumors.
2. Bone Stasis (by Dr. Xie’s Jing-Tang Herbal) – a powdered herbal formula for the bone cancer.
Dr. Xie’s herbal formulas must be purchased by your Veterinarian through this web site:
which also has formulas for many other different conditions, as you can see on pages 3-4 of this recent newsletter in pdf format online
You can also try locating a Veterinarian in your area that is already familiar with the use of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine by entering your zip code in the “Find a TCVM Practitioner” tool on the left side margin of this TCVM Mission Statement web page:
Or try these 2 sites as well: www.ivas.org :: www.aava.org
3. Shen Tong Zhu Yu Wan These small pills are intended to dispel pain in the extremities of the body that had also been prescribed by Dr. Xie. I have subsequently found these pills online from various sources (like here or here) which then introduced me to all sorts of other Chinese herbal treatments, one of which has been growing hair on my head and got rid of the gray – but that is the topic of another web page.
After about 2-3 months, Chuck started having very bad stomach problems and was throwing up his food right after eating. I had read some anecdotal horror stories online about how long-term Deramaxx can create life-threatening ulcers in the stomach, and I started cutting back on the dosage. Much to my surprise, when I got to the point where he had stopped taking it completely, he was still walking fine with no pain. I took him into the Vet, and she was amazed that his lymph nodes felt normal again, his coughing had stopped, and that he was able to walk fine without the Deramaxx.
Chuck continued to do so well, that after about 9 months, I decided to give him a break from the nasty tasting herbs – but after a month off the herbs he took a sudden turn for the worse – was limping again, coughing again, and seemed very ill. I took him into the Vet – and she said his lymph nodes were enlarged again, and she felt some new masses around his stomach, which then appeared as more cancer on an X-ray taken. I got Chuck back on the herbs immediately, and within a couple weeks he was doing better again.
Chuck has had recurring bouts of stomach troubles, which could be due to the cancer or prior Deramaxx use, and/or I now suspect he may have canine Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, (due to his very positive response to metronidazole which can act as an anti-inflammatory for IBS even in the absence of bacterial infections). The main struggle these past two years has been to keep him eating well, so that he can continue ingesting his Chinese Herbs.
It has been remarkable how whenever he goes through a period of not eating for a few days, he sometimes starts to have trouble again limping from pain with the bone tumor leg. Once he resumes eating and is back on the Chinese Herbs, his pain seems to always go away again within a few days. This cycle has happened so many times, I am convinced this is more than any possible coincidence.
In November 2005 I took Chuck on the 2-year anniversary of his cancer diagnosis. The Vet was delighted to report that his lymph nodes felt fine, his heart sounded good, that she could still “hear” some blocked areas in his lungs, but that considering what he has been through and now approaching 14 years for a large breed – he was indeed a miracle – and still standing on all four legs :-)
The two Chinese Herbal powders look like and taste like dirt. It was a challenge to figure out how to get Chuck to eat them. Due to his sensitive stomach issues, I had been experimenting with boiled white chicken meat (or turkey) mixed with white rice (I get 25# of basmati white rice – which is less refined and more nutritious than regular white rice). I make a chicken or turkey + broth slurry as a base to mix the herbs into.
It takes a lot of work, but if you would do anything to keep your pet well, the following has been working well for us after much trial and error. (I later found a simpler way to get Chuck to eat his herbs – you can skip this next part and scroll down further to the UPDATE).
I buy chicken or turkey when on sale. I simmer the skinless chicken in water for about an hour+ to get all the remaining fat out. I then package the cooked chicken into 2-3 day servings that are frozen separately, so the meat does not have a chance to spoil while it is being used up. I use freezer bags, or recycled plastic containers from yogurt or cottage cheese. I cool the remaining chicken stock in the fridge until the congealed fat can be taken off the top, then I pour the clear stock into small 2-3 day serving containers for freezing. (I would grate fresh raw garlic into the broths which is additional insurance against future spoilage and is good as a flea repellent, but lately I think it is too harsh for Chuck’s stomach). I take one package of meat and broth out of the freezer as I need it (and place it in a pot of hot water if I need it to thaw quickly), and make sure to use it up within 2-3 days.
With the turkey (which is preferable as it is even blander and less fatty than the chicken), I will roast a turkey on a rack in the oven – eat the dark meat for myself (as it tends to be too rich for Chuck’s stomach), and save the white meat for him, and package into 2-3 days’ worth containers. I will also make a huge pot of turkey stock with the carcass, refrigerate to skim off all the congealed fat, and then freeze up the clear stock in 2-3 day containers. When making stock, it is very good to simmer with all the bones for several hours. Chinese medicine believes there are very potent beneficial compounds within the bones and marrow.
I take about 1/4 cup of stock + chicken or turkey and mix this into a slurry. Then add the two herbal powders as per prescribed dosage based on weight. Chuck prefers it cool – right out of the fridge.
The main thing is to find anything to get your pooch to gobble up the herbs up as an appetizer before the regular meal. I do know of one dog who will eat the herbs mixed into his plain dry food with a little broth.
UPDATE: I found a much easier way to get Chuck to eat the herbs. I mix the herbs into about a 1/4 cup of melted vanilla ice cream or plain yogurt and he really goes for it before his regular meal. [update 2011 - I would not do this again unless I could find ice cream with no sugar or artificial sweeteners - so a sugar-free "Plain" Yogurt might be something to try instead]
UPDATE II: A reader offers this great tip on how to make special cookies to make the chinese herbs fun to eat.
UPDATE III: I’ve found that mixing the herbs very well with about 1/3 cup of raw hamburger and then hand feeding chunks also works well.
I then mix in Missing Link– a natural source vitamin, Omega 3, and fiber supplement for pets that I feel has been very helpful for Chuck. You can find this very popular pet product anywhere online. This stuff always helps him produce a VERY healthy bowel movement.
I add a tablespoon of Flaxseed Meal which has helped keep his coat very shiny and super smooth. This is a result that becomes very obvious within a week – well worth a try if you never have before. (I was giving him Flaxseed Oil gel caps, but found he was having trouble digesting them and lately have been having success with the ground flaxseed meal which I take too). A reader comment below alerted me to the fact that some dogs are allergic to Flaxseed Oil (perhaps from some processing methods?) and recommended using fish oil products instead. In trying to find more info on this, I found a variety of opinions, so trial and error observation probably makes the most sense to see which might benefit your pet. [UPDATE: this reader comment suggests avoiding flaxseed, and sticking with an all protein and fat diet to avoid inflammation, which in hindsight I think might have been better for Chuck. I would encourage people to research the RAW food diet for dogs].
I add some Pancreatic Enzymes – digestive enzymes – which I came to realize he needed when I discovered his body was not able to digest the gelatin caps. I used a “people” formula that consists of lipase, amylase, and protease. This seems to have helped Chuck with his digestive troubles.
I then chop up his Glucosamine/Chondriotin tablet and toss it into the food, and then toss in the Shen Tong Zhu Yu Wan* which are the tiny round pills for his leg pain.
At one point Chuck was on Carafate and/or Metoclopramide(Reglan) for his sensitive stomach. A good friend who had been raised on a farm with lots of animals told me to try giving Chuck buttermilk to coat and calm his stomach before meals. I hesitated for a long time, thinking it would be too rich or fatty. But it has turned out to be another Godsend – and works very very well as an appetizer to his meals – and the dense nutrition/calories was a bonus when I was trying to keep him from loosing weight.
I also have been having good luck using slippery elm tea to sooth the GI tract before meals. I simmer some powdered slippery elm in water until it starts to thicken, then pour it into ice cube trays. Then I freeze it, and thaw out a couple cubes as needed for use before each meal. I add just a bit of chicken broth to make sure Chuck laps it all up before I feed him his solid food.
When concerned about him not eating well/enough – I will chop us some hardboiled eggs into his food – he really likes it.
This is a lot of work for sure, but it has been working for us, and I have gotten a tremendous sense of satisfaction knowing all my efforts have helped keep Chuck doing well. In early 2006, I tapered off the Shen Tong Zhu Yu Wan pills for leg pain, and as of June 2006 he seems to be doing fine so far, which suggests that the other two remaining herbs have somehow managed to resolve or at least eliminate the pain from the bone tumor.
The last part of Chuck’s amazing story which I feel is important to credit is that he has been in the prayers of two very close and devoted friends.
I hope you or a friend never have to face this type of challenge with your beloved pet, but if you do, and would like to try an alternative approach that has been nothing short of miraculous for us, then I encourage you to check this out. The Chinese Veterinary Herb web site has many different formulas for many different health conditions for large and small animals – and they are a LOT cheaper than pharmaceutical drugs and in our case – offered hope and success where western “mainstream” medicine had none. Your Veterinarian can consult with the Dr. Xie website and get recommendations for a formula that might help your pet with a variety of conditions.
The very same week Chuck had been diagnosed with lung cancer in the Fall of 2003, my best human friend of 18 years had gotten the same diagnosis and prognosis – of about 6 months.
My friend Raf suffered through a horrible year of chemotherapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in NYC – the very “best” of care, before he passed away after a month in a wretched morphine stupor. At one point, he said he wished he could have taken something like what Chuck was taking….I wish he could have too.
~ some updated bits ~
 – more and more I’m realizing DIET is a critical aspect that can mean the difference between health and illness. Americans are getting sicker and enslaved to more and more medications, and our pets are too. It appears in many ways we are being slowly poisoned for profit and control – while it’s being marketed to us under the guise of economy and modern convenience. If I could have done things differently, I would have never fed Chuck the big name commercially prepared dog food.
If articles like this about possible problems with commercially prepared dog food concern you, I would encourage looking into the RAW food diet for dogs. Here is a good intro web page to the BARF RAW diet for dogs. There are also quite a few videos on YouTube of people feeding their dogs RAW food.
Here is a link to an acupuncture article provided by a reader that you might want to check out, as many others have reported it being helpful for various pet problems.
A reader commented on the use of Essiac for pet cancer. I have been very intrigued by my prior research into this product for personal reasons, and was intrigued further finding it as a pet product with some pet owners reporting benefits.
Another reader recommended avoiding sugars and (inflammatory) grains for the best cancer treatment diet, and sticking with a protein and fats instead.
R.I.P. October 24, 2006
My dearly beloved Chuck passed away from a heart attack in my arms at home. He was almost 14 years old, and had survived nearly three years with the bone and lung cancer. He had been eating less and less the past few months, and it was making it very difficult for him to get his daily Chinese herbs eaten, and once his daily dosage dropped, it seemed like the cancer gained ground and he started to lose too much weight. I wish I had discovered the melted ice cream trick sooner – I think he could have continued to do well longer if he had been getting the full dose herbal treatment. I am so thankful for the extra years I was given with Chuck – we shared a very special tenderness and love during his final days that will be the most treasured moments of my life. I hope his story can help others.
Bless all of you who love your animals.
Chuck with his best four-legged friend, Muff. Bless You Muff – R.I.P.
You can see Chucky’s funeral by clicking here.
Tags: allergies, alternative treatment, bone cancer, bone stasis, canine, canine IBS, canine inflammatory bowel syndrome, chinese herbs, dogs, Dr. Xie, glucosamine, hip dysplasia, lung cancer, missing link, veterinary chinese herbs