Pancreatic Cancer in Dogs
A canines pancreas performs a very important function in the digestive tract and it’s important to understand its role, in order to understand what’s causing the rise in pancreatic cancer, as well as how to effectively treat it.
The canine pancreas produces the enzymes needed to break down specific foods. Canines naturally produce a low amount of enzymes due to the fact that their natural evolutionary diet did not require a high amount.
It’s also worth noting that a canines pancreas does not produce certain types of enzymes such as Amylase which is need to breakdown carbohydrates.
The pancreas also produces hormones such as insulin which is the main hormone regulating sugar levels in the blood as well as gastrin, which stimulates the production of acid in the stomach and intestines.
What’s Causing Pancreatic Cancer in Dogs?
There’s been a dramatic rise in most types of canine cancer in recent years and certain foods and diets are considered to be a major culprit.
When foods or ingredients that are unnatural to a dogs physiology are introduced, their pancreas is unable to secrete the proper enzymes. As a result, the chemistry in the canines digestive tract is severely off, thus prohibiting it to function properly. This intensely challenges the immune system causing a number of health complications and opening the door to a number diseases, including cancer.
It’s unfortunate, but many dog owners ( including myself at one point) unknowingly feed their dog a foods that actually causes these complications.
Pancreas Under Attack!
It’s only in recent times that dogs have been introduced to a processed diet and as a result, pancreatic conditions such as pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, canine diabetes and stomach cancer in dogs have all been on the rise.
These dry kibble type foods are one of the biggest factors canine pancreatic cancer as well as many illnesses in dogs. Most dry dog foods (even the high end foods) contain ingredients that dogs are not designed to digest. How can this be you might ask. Well, unfortunately large dog food manufacturers seem to be more concerned with their profits than your dogs well being. Cheap grains and corn are often used as fillers to to cut cost. This is done with a complete disregard to the fact that a dog’s digestive tract is not designed to consume and break down grains.
The pancreas of canines cannot produce the enzymes needed to properly break down grains.They do produce enzymes such as Protease to break down and digest protein, and Lipase to break down and digest fat, and they actually produce even low levels of these enzymes. That’s because they were’ designed to get some of the enzymes from consuming the gusts/end trails of their prey, such as Cellulase which helps break down vegetable fiber .
Dogs derived from wolves and their physiology is close 99% the same. If we look at wolves or canines in the wild, we can see that they’re carnivores and don’t graze on corn and wheat. Further more, even the prey they eat such as rabbits and deer, don’t consume
grains either nor do they produce/contain the enzymes to properly break down grains.
I wish I could say that grains were the only problem with the modern domesticated diet, but it’s just one of many problems with the common processed diet.
- Protease – breaks down and digest protein
- Amylase – breaks down and digest carbohydrates and starches
- Lipase – breaks down and digest fat
- Cellulase – breaks down fiber
The 3 types of Canine Pancreatic Cancer
Pancreatic nodular hyperplasia – fairly common finding in older dogs and sometimes follows injury but is usually without any known cause. We do not know the specific causes of the cancers.
- (Exocrine cancers) – uncommon. Most often these are malignant tumors though rarely benign tumors are found.than their malignant counterparts. Found more in older dogs, however they are found in dogs as well as three.
- (Endocrine cancers) are also uncommon. Usually derived from the insulin secreting ‘beta cells’, and is called an insulinoma.
The most common symptom of an insulinoma is physical collapse, or loss of consciousness. Seizures and extreme weakness are also common but because the insulin is released periodically, symptoms are not consistent and frequency is not necessarily predictable.
If your dog has collapsed or is suffering from seizures because of an insulinoma, medical emergency treatment usually will consist of immediate administration of glucose. For home treatment of sudden collapses or seizures, corn syrup can be given as a temporary solution to increase glucose levels. But medical attention will still be needed, so consulting with a veterinarian is critical. The veterinarian may also give your dog glucose containing fluids and/or steroids to counteract the insulin effects.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to treat, especially with conventional means, and the prognosis is considered poor. This type of cancer spreads quickly ans often reaches advanced stages before symptoms appear. Surgery is a common protocol, however because it’s extremely difficult to to remove all of the cancerous tissue these tumors often grow back. Pancreatic cancer also spreads so quickly that other organs are usually affected by the time a diagnosis is made.
- If there is inflammation of the pancreas or adjacent bile ducts of the liver, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful.
- There is no satisfactory treatment to treat cancer of the exocrine pancreas. Diagnosis is usually too late for successful surgery and chemotherapy is usually contra-indicated because the cancers are too painful.
- Benign endocrine cancers can be removed surgically but multiple or malignant ones are not surgically treatable.
- Medical drugs to control blood sugar are often prescribed.
- Prednisolone is a steroid that stimulates formation of glucose and is often a cornerstone of medical treatment.
Other medications that might be used to treat insulinoma include:
- Chemotherapeutic agents, such as streptozocin
It’s important to understand that conventional approaches often fail because they generally focus on the tumor itself and fail to address the underlying problem. That being said, holistic dietary treatments are frequently used in conjunction with other treatments as they should be.
Reducing the meal sizes and increasing the frequency will help to limit the fluctuations in insulin that instigate the hypoglycemic episodes. There are also plenty of supplements and herbs such as Milk Thistle that can remove toxins and help with number of pancreatic conditions including canine pancreatic cancer.
If remission is to be achieves and maintained, the digestive tract needs to function properly in order to allow the immune system to begin the healing process.