CBD for Osteosarcoma in Dogs: Nina’s Story
April 2020 is when Nina first started to limp, and by May she had developed a noticeable tumor on her wrist. In July 2020 we were given the diagnosis of Osteosarcoma, aka bone cancer in dogs, and were told she’d be gone by the end of the year.
NOT! It’s now been almost 20 months since the initial bone cancer diagnosis and Nina is still thriving.
What is Osteosarcoma?
Osteosarcoma is a malignant bone tumor. Bone cancer is a common cancer in dogs, particularly in large and giant breeds. Osteosarcoma is the most common type of bone cancer in dogs, accounting for approximately 85% of cases of bone cancer in dogs. The longer bones in their limbs are the most commonly affected, but the jaw, hips, ribcage, skull, vertebrae and pelvis bones can also be affected. Osteosarcomas are highly aggressive and can quickly spread to vital organs and become fatal, which makes early detection vital. Unfortunately most cases have already metastasized at the time of diagnosis.
Just like most cancer in dogs, osteosarcoma in dogs does not have a single cause. Bone cancer in dogs can be caused by many potential risk factors, including hereditary and environmental factors.
Signs of Osteosarcoma in Dogs
Unfortunately, although it’s important to catch osteosarcoma in dogs early, initial signs and symptoms of bone cancer in dogs may be nonspecific and easy to overlook. Osteosarcoma in dogs can be very painful, which may cause dogs to become lethargic, develop a limp, or seem reluctant to walk or play. Dogs can also experience a loss of appetite due to the pain, respiratory distress, and swelling in the affected area, as the mass develops.
To give your dog the greatest chance, always monitor their overall health and any changes in behavior. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your holistic or integrative veterinarian as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above.
Conventional Treatment of Osteosarcoma in Dogs
Conventional treatment of osteosarcoma in dogs typically involves amputation of the affected limb. Chemotherapy is common after amputation, as well as some forms of radiation therapy. This is not a safe and viable option for every dog, as not every dog with bone cancer is a good candidate for amputation.
Pain management is also a vital part of any treatment of osteosarcoma in dogs, as the tumor can be very painful. Of course many pharmaceutical pain medications can have serious adverse side effects. Long term use of NSAIDs can negatively affect the functioning of a dog’s liver, kidneys and stomach. Gabapentin may cause deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B1, and folate, all of which are essential for nerve repair. Other common side effects include sedation, lethargy, trouble with coordination, vomiting, depression, excessive sleep and diarrhea. Tramadol is an opioid, and though it’s marketed as being less addictive than other prescription opioids, it can still be habit-forming. Dogs can develop a tolerance after consistent use, needing increased doses, which can lead to liver damage, overdose and death. Tramadol has also been linked to seizures in dogs.
At this time, Nina is not a good candidate for amputation. Fortunately, we have been able to prevent metastasis with Nina’s holistic protocol for osteosarcoma in dogs, which means the osteosarcoma has not spread to anywhere else in her body. Nina’s pain is managed naturally as well, with Full Spectrum Hemp Extract.
Related: Natural Pain Relief for Dogs
Nina’s Story: One Year After Osteosarcoma Diagnosis
This is an update on Nina, after my original blog post on her dog Osteosarcoma diagnosis.
Recently, one year post diagnosis of Nina’s osteosarcoma, I noticed she was suddenly using her osteosarcoma leg more, despite the tumor. Then a few days later, I noticed some swelling on her left GOOD leg, and realized she was experiencing pain, and had been compensating by putting weight on the bad leg. I didn’t know what the new swelling was, but I feared the worst. I immediately began worrying that it was a secondary tumor, and that metastasis was occurring.
Luckily, it was just in time for her annual check in with my colleagues and friends at FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital in DeLand, Florida.
Visiting our Holistic Veterinarians
On August 19, 2021 we took Nina to FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital.
At our visit, Dr. Schrager was blown away that Nina was still alive, with her tumor leg intact, over a year after Nina’s diagnosis of canine osteosarcoma.
Nina received a full blood panel and x-rays of her entire body (shown below). And guess what? NO metastasis, and the pain and swelling in her good leg appeared to be just a tendon injury. Her bloodwork also came back perfect, except for low thyroid values, for which a natural thyroid supplement was prescribed.
What happened next is something I’ll never forget. Dr. Schrager asked me what I was doing for Nina’s treatment of osteosarcoma in dogs, commenting that she had never seen anything like this.
“I am amazed at the level of pain relief that we get with CBD when used for bone tumors. In the past, these cases were heartbreaking because we simply could not control their pain with anything but amputation. CBD alone works better than any of the multimodal therapies I have used in the past. I would actually consider bone tumor pain relief to be the indication where I have anecdotally seen the most impressive effects. Now, remember, however, that it has to be carbon dioxide extracted, third party tested full spectrum CBD, so you know what you are getting and know you will not do any harm because of contaminants. Nina is a happy, comfortable dog, over a year into her bone tumor diagnosis. That is amazing. It makes my heart happy!” says Dr. Schrager.
Dr. Schrager then called her colleague, Lisa Mason, DVM, CCRT, CVA, CVPP of Florida Veterinary Rehabilitation, to see if she could meet Nina and offer her expertise on bone cancer in dogs.
Side note: You know how you wish you could find incredible vets that listen and respect you? Vets that understand Chinese, holistic and cannabis medicine? Vets who are constantly researching what works to help pets and that really care? Well, I hit the lottery! These veterinarians are some of the most incredible integrative vets I have ever encountered. How they all work together, synergistically, to do what is best for each animal should be emulated in the industry.
Nina’s Story Reaches More Vets
Dr. Mason, who has had great success keeping another osteosarcoma in dogs patient happy and healthy for 13 months using Chinese Medicine, was eager to see how she could help Nina. She was impressed with the results we’d seen with Nina so far, but also understood the power of cannabis medicine, as it saved her own life similarly to how it saved mine. Dr. Mason has been using cannabis medicine in her practice for over 2 years now with incredible success. She even knows what other medications interact well with cannabis, making it more effective in alleviating pain, such as is experienced with bone cancer in dogs.
Here’s what Dr. Mason had to say,
“Nina presented to me for an evaluation to determine if she would be able to function with an amputation of her forelimb. This is interestingly not an uncommon request. In veterinary medicine, amputation is often a management choice for osteosarcoma in dogs, or bone cancer in dogs. The theory is that if we amputate the area of disease that the patient will live a much happier life. Many owners and veterinarians are now aware that not all dogs can live a happy and successful life on three legs. When faced with this decision, a rehabilitation veterinarian, like myself, can help to assess other current and ongoing musculoskeletal diseases that may cause the patient to be in increasing discomfort or suffer poor mobility after the amputation is performed.
In Nina’s case she had been well managed with supplementation for pain management of her osteosarcoma for the last 13 months using CBD and other natural anti-inflammatory supplementation. She was a very active girl and happened to land on her “good” limb and injured it to the point that the pain was worse in the “good” limb than the “cancer” limb. Upon evaluation with ultrasound, it was apparent that Nina had injured a tendon in her wrist that was healing with scar tissue, but still very uncomfortable. Her owners and I discussed the need to heal this tendon, but it would likely never be strong enough for her to use alone without her other limb. It was decided that amputation was not currently a viable option for this sweet girl.” – Dr. Lisa Mason, DVM, CCRT, CVA, CVPP of Florida Veterinary Rehabilitation
We proceeded by providing Nina with a treatment called Shockwave, which uses high powered sound waves to encourage tendon healing faster. After shockwave, and the use of medical cannabis for pain relief, Nina has been a much more comfortable girl.
Recent canine studies have shown that the appropriate dosing of cannabinoids to manage pain of osteoarthritis and cancer in dogs, can be an alternative or adjunct to traditional pharmaceuticals (Gamble LJ, Boesch JM, Frye CW, Schwark WS, Mann S, Wolfe L, Brown H, Berthelsen ES, Wakshlag JJ. Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2018 Jul 23;5:165.).
Nina is outliving her prognosis in a very happy and comfortable way with the use of medical cannabis.
Related: CBD Oil for Dogs with Cancer
Resting and Healing
Nina is now geriatric, as Dr. Mason reminded me. A Doberman’s typical life expectancy is 10-13 years, and most die from dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). We avoided the threat of DCM by feeding her a raw/fresh biologically appropriate heart-healthy diet as well as giving her Full Spectrum Hemp Extract, a cardio protectant, for the past six years.
When cases like Nina’s happen, with a diagnosis like osteosarcoma in dogs, and caring veterinarians witness such incredible results, it’s a game changer. One good holistic/integrative vet will tell another, and so on and so on, so that natural healing and medicine can be used to help more and more pets who are not finding relief from western conventional medicine.
So now Nina is back home resting, and we are doing our best to keep her off her feet so the tendon can heal. The risk of fracture of the bad leg is extremely high, since she only has her ulna bone remaining to support her weight. If that happens while her other leg is still injured, she won’t have any use from her front legs, and we’d have to consider euthanasia.
Our goal now is to heal the tendon in Nina’s “good” leg, so that she can avoid using her osteosarcoma leg, and the risk for fracture will decrease. It’s crazy to think that I worked so diligently to keep the bone cancer from spreading but now a leg break poses the biggest threat.
Regardless, she currently remains a bad candidate for amputation and continues to prove to the world that cannabis, turkey tail mushrooms, real fresh food, and natural supplements can not only combat osteosarcoma in dogs, but also give your dog the quality of life she deserves in her senior years.
Nina’s Protocol for Canine Osteosarcoma
I’ve shared Nina’s Full Protocol for Osteosarcoma in Dogs before, but since then I’ve made the following updates:
- Lion’s Mane Mushrooms and Reishi Mushrooms for Brain support and immune support.
- ThytrophinPMG, From Standard Process
- Once a week I’ve added some organic Green Tea or Apple Cider Vinegar to her food.
- I’ve doubled her dose of the FECO (Full Extract Cannabis Oil) at night until the tendon is completely healed.
It’s now been almost 20 months since her canine osteosarcoma diagnosis, and Nina is doing great! Thanks to her medical cannabis protocol and sound wave therapy, Nina’s ruptured tendon has healed and she’s back to her crazy self as you can see here in this video.