When Canine Cancer Strikes

An Experience with Thyroid Cancer

One year ago this month my beloved Siberian Husky, Damon (who is also the face of The Holistic Canine), was informally diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His thick and luxurious Siberian coat had hidden a growth that I did not notice until one day last October 2018. I was sitting on my bedroom floor tending to one of our Pitskies when Damon nudged me for some petting. Of course I started to fuss with him. Because I was sitting on the floor, I was low and my hand ran over his throat. I felt what I at first thought might be a clump of hair. I spread his hair to investigate and knew immediately that my beloved companion had a mass in his throat.

Let me take you back several years. Damon and I are from upstate NY. My three sons, Damon, and I made the decision to move south to Georgia after my then-USAF fiance (now husband) was re-stationed to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, GA. Because we were moving to a military establishment, that meant Damon would not be allowed on base without current rabies and distemper vaccines. I am against vaccination and Damon had only the most minimal. But I had no choice. He was my beloved heart dog and he was coming with us, so I had him vaccinated. Damon turned 6 years old on the day we arrived at our new home.

Not long after arriving in Georgia, Damon suddenly became very lazy. Then about a year later, my once perfectly-healthy Damon began having a host of issues. He would wake up with stiff necks that nearly paralyzed him. He would stand with his head cocked, unable to move, facing a wall. Then one day in February 2016, right after he turned 8 years old, while outside in the yard he started screeching. I ran outside to find him trembling in a couched position in searing pain and unable to move. I picked him up while my son ran to the car to help me rush him to the veterinarian. I immediately thought Lyme Disease as it looked exactly like the symptoms, and being from NY where Lyme is common, I was well versed. Georgia, however, has a very small incidence of Lyme and the Veterinarian immediately expressed her doubt. Well, she was right. No Lyme Disease. But we put him on an antibiotic and a steroid to “cover all the bases” and get him pain-free before taking further measures. We also used NexGard (against my good conscience) at 1/2 the dose for the next three months in case a tick borne illness was the cause. The next day Damon was perfectly normal so we chose the “watch and see” approach. But as time went on, the stiff necks continued. If you could have witnessed what we did, you would have agreed with us that we did not think Damon was going to live to be nine years old.

By now we had several other dogs who were all consuming a raw diet. Damon, being the pickiest eater I have ever met in all my long years of having dogs, wouldn’t touch raw food. He was near impossible to feed. He had been on a homecooked diet along with the highest (and most expensive) commercial canned and dehydrated foods for nearly his entire life. We knew we HAD to figure out a way to get him to eat full raw. After many creative tactics and painstaking coaxing, Damon was finally eating full raw by March 2017, and amazingly, he never had another stiff neck or issue again. The change in Damon was immediate. So why did he develop a mass over a year later? Or had it already been forming, missed by both us and veterinarians, silently causing the stiff necks?

I was dumbfounded. What could have caused my Siberian to go from perfect health in NY to a literal crash and burn upon moving to GA? In my heart I believe the vaccines are partly, if not completely, responsible. Add to this the military community which sprayed Round-Up everywhere, and I have my suspicions. We chose to get the hell out of that toxic community and move out to the country at the end of 2017. I had thought we were out-of-the-woods with Damon’s health, so you can imagine my surprise at finding the mass in October 2018.

Let me take you back one more time before I discuss my chosen action plan for Damon. In 2016 as a result of Damon’s health issues, I had decided to start The Holistic Canine. I wanted to bring together a community where holistic health care measures are shared and discussed. Thus The Holistic Canine was born. Never did I realize where it would take me. I kept Damon’s health issues quiet while I worked with him and utilized holistic therapies and measures. I wanted to first know that what I was doing was effective. Why talk about something that is not yet shown to be effective? For starters, I already knew that raw feeding was by far and away a complete miracle for health conditions. Having now more than ten thousand followers and hundreds of clients with success stories that would move even the hardest person to tears, I know with absolute certainty that species-appropriate nutrition is essential to optimal health and healing. I am also convinced that vaccines are the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette*. Having had dogs for over 40 years, I can clearly see which dogs thrived and which did not as a result of either receiving or not receiving vaccines and chemical veterinary preventative measures. Having also worked for three different veterinarians back in NY and having owned my own holistic grooming salon for 18 years, I saw enough to know what added to health and what destroyed it.

After waiting one year post-diagnosis to write about Damon and my plan of action, I now want to share my chosen protocol and express what I have learned throughout this process. [Note: for diagnosis, Damon went to both a conventional veterinarian and a holistic veterinarian. We chose a fine needle aspiration, a full thyroid blood panel, and a standard blood work up.]

Cancer is a disease of the individual. It is a part of them, their own cells and tissues that have unfortunately mutated and no longer function as their specialized cell. Cancer is part of the body. We are not fighting a “something” when we attempt a war against cancer. We are battling against the body; itself gone wrong. Cancer requires a reversal, plain and simple. Removing a cancerous part or growth is only a temporary fix to a problem of the whole body. If healing and strengthening measures are not engaged in, the cancer returns elsewhere in the body. And why? Because cancer is individual and a part of the victim. Being first and foremost a holistic health practitioner to people, I have studied cancer to a sickening degree. Having this knowledge base in mind, I made my decision and chose my path to assist Damon throughout his now second major health crisis.

1. My first action even before I got my veterinary appointments, was to immediately order the best source of CBD oil I could find. I did not know if Damon would be in pain or if suffering would eventually occur, so CBD was not an option, it was essential. I took my first CBD oil purchase to my holistic veterinarian who warned me to be leery of THC in the product. After later finding a better product that is full spectrum, I ignored my veterinarian’s advice knowing that the THC is what fights cancer, not CBD. I put my dog on a high potency human CBD oil along with Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). I give CBD twice daily.

2. Diet is critical. Damon was already raw fed. As noted above, he is picky to a fault (often infuriatingly), so I needed to make sure he ate, and ate daily (something he NEVER did). I had to make the decision to feed him what I KNEW he would eat, not what I THOUGHT was best. Damon HATES vegetables and fruit. I removed all vegetables and fruit (YEP!) because Damon knew best what his body needs. I started to trust him. I had been researching the Prey Model Raw diet more and became convinced it was the better choice. In addition, I also started adding just bone marrow to meals along with his raw meaty bones which, oddly enough, he took an incredible preference to.

3. With that in mind☝️ and knowing that Siberians have often extreme instincts, I chose to trust my dog’s lead. I am his guardian, but he is his own being. Damon hates going to the Veterinarian and he gets very stressed. Already two vet appointments into this disease and I saw the stress. Stress can kill. I chose to reduce the stress. Damon DID NOT WANT to be poked, prodded, and stressed out. I KNOW my dog and he would not want to be put through a surgery. I chose to opt out of the surgery to remove the mass. In fact, the conventional veterinarian (hands down the best I have EVER seen) said to me that the surgery was not a matter of if it can be done, but whether it should be done given his history. I further resolved after researching the disease and reading about others’ experiences with thyroid cancer that surgery was not for Damon. Too many dogs died shortly after having their thyroid removed.

4. Next, I bought dietary supplements. I researched and chose my next course of action. I decided on turkey tail and reishi mushrooms, a complex of grape seed, green tea, and pine bark, vitamin D, vitamin C, high doses of vitamin E, and others. I tried turmeric and spirulina, but he hated them. No need to force something he hates. Also, my holistic veterinarian recommended no kelp. I stopped kelp and give him only a pinch every once in awhile.

5. I chose to treat Damon as if he was perfectly healthy. I made him believe that he is not sick, that nothing is amiss. He has a tumor the size of a baseball and he does not know it’s bad; he does not care. He believes it is normal. He has adjusted to the tumor as if it is a natural part of aging. The tumor interferes with nothing that we can tell. He acts as if all is well.

6. Energy. Energy is everything. Animals are sensitive to energy fields. They feel our energy and our emotions. Emotions are one of the most powerful energy fields in the Universe. The emotions we send out attracts back from the Universe exactly what we put out. I act as if Damon is no different than our other five dogs, that he is as well and healthy as they are. My emotions reflect that Damon is strong, I do not fear that death will take him. I give Damon the right to chose when it is time. That gives me confidence; it changes my energy field to faith and trust. Damon feeds off my confidence and faith in him.

7. I let Damon lead me. Dogs are incredibly instinctive. They know what they need. If you raise your dog to be a DOG, not a human child, their instincts can be trusted. My dogs play outside, dig in the dirt, eat raw food, get into trash, drink out of the toilet (not that I encourage that, mind you), roll on dead things…they are dogs. Damon has a connection with the earth. Not long after we discovered his tumor, Damon began asking to sleep outside for the first time ever in his life. I knew in my heart he needed to connect with the earth, maybe even prepare for his death. I had to allow it. I cannot stop death, but I may be able to ward it off for a little longer. I let Damon have his way and ground to the earth’s energy at night. He also took advantage of the pre-dawn oxygen saturation within the air. Oxygen is highest at that time as can be witnessed by the birds as this is when they begin to sing.

8. I started giving Damon more privileges. He began helping with the chicken and duck duties. He spends time with the feathered girls. I began to realize more that a dog’s life requires purpose. I gave Damon reasons to WANT to live. I gave him more purpose. He became my partner in caring for the other animals. He joins me on the sofa more. He is the elder dog in the home and we treat him with honor among his pack. Damon also knows that I NEED him. He and I have a very special bond. I make sure he knows.

9. Every now and then I run my hands over Damon’s tumor. I tell him it’s ok. I make sure he knows that this growth is not scary. We tell it “together” that it has no power over him. I use my own energy field and faith to clear away stagnation in the area. Exercise and movement of muscles massages lymph nodes and flushes the lymph fluid. Damon loves to have his head and neck massaged. He also loves our electric massager. We clear stagnant energy, toxins, and fluids.

10. Damon gets exercise in the fresh air a minimum of six times per day. We make sure he walks around the house throughout the day as well. Exercise oxygenates the system. If Damon asks to go for a walk, I take him outside the fenced yard and he loves to gallop across our acreage, explore the heavily foliaged areas, sniff the earth, and relish in the fresh air and warm sun (and eat shoots of vibrant green meadow grasses!).

So far so good. Several years ago we were doubting Damon would see nine years old, today we are approaching his twelfth birthday. How long Damon will be with us is unknown, but he and I both know that each day is a blessing in itself. Cancer and disease suck, but we can do our best to ward off death for as long as we stay the course and BELIEVE!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

*I began vaccine research back in 1999. My first son was born in 1998 and when I saw how many vaccines they were recommending, I started asking questions. By my second son’s birth in 2000, I was more convinced that vaccines were more dangerous than good. I chose to withhold all vaccines from my sons from that moment forward. My third son is completely vaccine-free. Now adults, my boys have never had a single illness. My grandson is currently also vaccine-free.


Dis-ease Prevention through Epigenetic Gene Expression

Despite our best efforts, the modern canine is stricken with chronic conditions and diseases with an alarmingly increasing mortality rate. Can these conditions and diseases be prevented even if genetics plays a role? YES! Epigenetic science is showing us how diet and environment directly affect gene expression.

The Most Common Dis-ease Conditions in Dogs

If you were to do an internet search of the most common disorders afflicting the modern canine, you will discover numerous lists from multiple sources outlining the many crises laying hold of our beloved dogs. The incidence of disease is on the rise despite research into canine nutrition by organizations such as the NRC, AAFCO, FEDIAF, independent veterinarians and nutrition professionals as well as the myriad of disease preventatives pushed by the veterinary industry. Where is the system failing our beloved pets? Can we blame genetics? Before we answer those questions, let’s review the most common disease conditions afflicting today’s canines.

  • Otitis (ear infections)
  • Periodontal (oral) disease
  • Dermatitis
  • Mange (sarcoptic -Sarcopte mites, and demodectic -immune compromised & puppies)
  • Allergies
  • Intestinal inflammation (IBS, IBD, colitis, etc.)
  • Cystitis (bladder) Infection
  • Urinary bladder stones
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Kidney disease [1]
  • Renal failure
  • Thyroid disease [2]
  • Gastric torsion (bloat)
  • Heart disease [3] -dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCL)
  • Obesity
  • Nuclear Sclerosis (eye)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
  • Fungal infection
  • Cancer

Sadly, this list is not exhaustive. Our dogs are in a fight for their health and longevity. Numerous researchers, myself included, are actively seeking and testing naturopathic and food therapies as well as seeking new paths to cultivating optimal health, healing, and longevity in the modern canine.

It is blatantly clear that the pet food industry and veterinary preventatives are failing the majority of dogs. Thankfully, modern epigenetic science is casting a ray of light and hope on the war against disease and increased mortality. If you look at the above list, you will note that there exists a common thread. All of these conditions can be prevented! It is now known and understood that diet and environment play a crucial role in gene expression.

What is gene expression? To put it simply, external factors (diet and environment) have a direct impact on physiological phenotypic trait variations triggering genes to be “switched” (turned) on and off. This directly affects the way in which cells translate (decode or read) genes as opposed to changes in the DNA sequence. The purpose of epigenetic science and research is to learn and understand the dynamic diversity and modification capacity of the transcriptional potential within every cell.

Can epigenetic science help us to improve the health and longevity of our pets? The answer is YES and it is being done even now.

Let’s go back to the question posed above. Is your dog at the mercy of his genes? Are genes to blame? While genes do play a role in increasing risk potential for familial diseases and disorders, epigenetics says NO. We can influence gene expression. Your dog is no longer at the mercy of his genes. He is, however, at the mercy of his genes expressing in ways that negatively impact his health if external intervention is not engaged. It’s time to “switch” the genes into a positive and health promoting expression for the cultivation of radiant health.

Eliminating Dangerous Exposure, Conditions, & Conducts

Many breeds of dogs, especially in the United States, are passing abnormal genetic information into each successive generation which is placing each and every innocent puppy into a high risk potential for experiencing a full-blown disease condition. We call this breed disease-predisposition and genetic (or pedigree) disease potential. Does this mean that each pup will develop a predisposed condition in their future? No, but it does put them at a frighteningly high risk that increases their likelihood for experiencing the condition or even conditions. The good news is that carefully influenced epigenetic gene expression can prevent the very diseases that are threatening breed and genetic predisposed dogs.

Let’s start with what to avoid. The following is a list of examples which are known to cause genes to express deleteriously thereby having a direct adverse impact on health and disease prevention. This is by no means exhaustive, but serves to bring to light common dangers.

  • Vaccinations (even one can be lethal, but here I refer to unnecessary repeat vaccines)
  • Early spay and neuter
  • Flea & tick chemicals (sprays, collars, dips, pills, etc.)
  • Heartworm preventatives (chemical)
  • Worming chemicals
  • Cigarette/cigar smoke
  • Air fresheners and scented candles
  • Hair and body aerosols
  • Shampoos containing parabens, phthalates, PEG, SLS, etc.
  • Laundry detergents (especially chemically scented)
  • Fabric softeners (especially chemically scented…this is a leading cause for indoor air pollution)
  • Lawn and garden chemicals, weed killers (esp. glyphosate), pest control
  • Farm and garden chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.)
  • Household pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, rodent poisons, ant baits, etc.
  • Swimming pool/hot tub chemicals
  • Acetone exposure
  • Nail products and paint fumes
  • Carpet and floor cleaners
  • Construction and automobile chemicals and oils
  • Exhaust fumes from vehicles, lawn mowers, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies and solutions
  • Antibiotics
  • Drugs, veterinary prescriptions
  • Growth hormone contaminants in meat products
  • Processed food diet, especially kibble
  • Excessive consumption of a single recipe/diet (homemade and commercial)
  • Excessive consumption of same-source ingredients (homemade and commercial)
  • Unbalanced/unvaried diet
  • Excessive supplementation
  • High carbohydrate/fiber diet (commercial and homemade)
  • Species inappropriate diet (commercial and homemade)
  • Consumption of rancid fats and fish oils
  • Nutrient deficient meals
  • Nutrient toxic meals and supplementation
  • Tap water (chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceutical contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.)
  • Poor dental and gum health
  • Parasite induced disease condition
  • Stress/anxiety/loneliness
  • Lengthy crating and confinement
  • Obesity
  • Lack of outdoor time
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Lack of fresh air
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of purpose (esp. in working breeds)
  • Tight fitting collar
  • Excessive heat or cold exposure
  • Excessive breeding of bitch

Avoiding as many or all of the above is a plan that greatly increases the opportunity to cultivate optimal health in your dog.

Preventing Disease through the Cultivation of Optimal Health

Having learned above what we need to avoid in order to prevent the decline of health by way of undesirable gene expression, we can now look at ways in which we can influence gene expression for the cultivation of health and the prevention of disease.

Health begins firstly by avoiding health harming foods, substances, situations, and environments followed by influencing positive gene expression. We do this by creating a platform on which we can cultivate optimal health. It is a process and a practice that must be regularly maintained if health is to be continuous. Creating the correct platform begins with diet and environment. Both are dependent upon each other. Nutritional needs are dependent upon environment and environment determines nutritional needs.

First and foremost, our dogs require fresh whole foods that are appropriate to their species. This is extremely important if nutrient assimilation is to be optimal. A dog cannot gain value from grass, whole raw vegetables, grains, or whole raw seeds any more so than we can gain value from lawn clippings, raw grains, or raw legumes. For a dog to maintain health, he needs to have clean food-sources of energy and nutritional building blocks that can be easily unlocked and assimilated. There is no exception to this! Nutrients are complexes that must be gained from food sources. Nutrients come packaged alongside other nutrients, enzymes, factors, cofactors, antioxidants, constituents, and potential energy that assist and work along with other components for optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation, and the cultivation of health through appropriate gene expression. There is also the need to avoid the consumption of anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of vital nutrients.

Environment plays a role in determining nutrient needs. Soil mineral-saturation or depletion affects nutrient needs from both local food sources and food sourced elsewhere. Also, family dynamic, stress, adverse exposures, exercise, air quality, sunlight, water quality, purpose (dogs need a sense of purpose just as we do), attention from family members, socialization, stimulus, etc. all determine nutritional requirements. If these are not taken into consideration, optimal health cannot be cultivated.

We also see health decline with energy waste. Energy is everything. Our dogs require adequate motive power for building and maintaining optimal health. We want to look for and remove any sources of unnecessary energy expenditure (energy waste). Vital energy will be diverted to the elimination of excessive toxin build-up (from both metabolic function and exposure via diet and environment) and to areas that require repair to damaged tissues caused by the exposures, conditions, and conducts listed above. By removing these energy wasting sources, energy will be freed to allow for peak motive power available to the maintenance of optimal health. When the body is powered adequately and disease preventatives are put into place, genes will express for health rather than toward disease predispositions or the failure of health.

Establishing a health-promoting microbiome is an additional step for positive gene expression. See my article The Mystifyingly Astounding Microbiome.

Failure to produce optimal health can be observed via the manifestation of adverse symptoms in the physical body, behavior, and emotions. Health is fragile when not carefully maintained and heeded. Be observant and watch for any signs that your dog is not thriving. Do not delay in removing or correcting the cause. Health can decline rapidly. For additional help, contact me for more information!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

1 “More than one-third of dogs (37 percent)…with kidney disease also have periodontal disease.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital

2 “In 2011, approximately 1 in every 200 dogs had hypothyroidism.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital

3 “Almost one-third of dogs (28 percent)…with cardiomyopathy (a type of heart disease) also have periodontal disease.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital