Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs. 47% of deaths in dogs are related to cancer, especially when the dog is over 10 years old. There are many types of cancer that your dog can develop, soft tissue sarcoma is one of them.
Soft tissue sarcomas (STS) are a variety of tumors from the mesenchymal cells. These tumors can grow anywhere but you can usually find these tumors on the dog’s head, trunk, or neck. They’re firm tumors that are located under the skin.
Even though it’s uncommon for these tumors to venture to other sites, it’s still important for you to know about soft tissue sarcoma in dogs and your treatment option.
Soft Tissue Sarcoma in Dogs: What Is It?
Soft tissue sarcoma is malignant cancer.
It’s characterized by a combination of tumors that form from the skin and the subcutaneous connective tissue. They usually form from the muscle, fat, fibrous connective tissue, cartilage, the pericytes of small blood vessels, and the nerves.
These tumors appear discrete but are actually invasive to the surrounding tissue. This is why local regrowth is common, even after both successful holistic and surgical treatment.
Soft tissue sarcoma has a low chance of spreading, especially if they’re at the low or intermediate levels. If you don’t catch cancer until it’s at a high level, there’s a good chance it will spread.
Is Your Dog At Risk?
Soft tissue sarcoma has no breed or gender preference. Most senior dogs become at-risk for developing this cancer. It’s common to spot the first signs of STS when they’re older and even middle-aged.
STS can either grow slowly or quickly. Low-to-intermediate STS tumors usually show no change. They become more susceptible to change or spread once cancer reaches a high level.
How STS Is Diagnosed
If you find a tumor, there are a few tests your vet can run to diagnose STS. The most common one is taking a fine needle aspirate to confirm the STS. This is a non-invasive and easy test.
If this test doesn’t work, your vet can do a biopsy. Biopsies also help identify which type of STS your dog has, if necessary.
After your vet diagnoses STS, they need to identify the state the cancer is at and if cancer spread. They do this with a combination of tests:
- Abdominal ultrasound
- Chest radiographs
- Blood work
- Evaluation of regional lymph nodes
From here, your vet can recommend the next best course of action.
The STS prognosis depends on the grade of cancer your dog has.
Your dog has a good chance of recovery if the cancer is low-to-intermediate level. You can choose surgical options and there are holistic treatment options available.
Your dog may also need radiation therapy to destroy cancer from the local area.
Since these tumors are invasive, there’s a good chance they will regrow without proper surgery.
High-grade STS is more challenging. The median survival time is one year. Treatment will help increase your dog’s chance of survival.
Your dog will likely need chemotherapy to prevent the spread of STS. Chemotherapy along with holistic treatment will help destroy cancer and will prevent your dog from experiencing negative symptoms.
STS Holistic Treatment Options
There are more effective holistic treatment options available for a myriad of cancers, including STS. Here are the options your dog has and how they compare to conventional treatment.
Many vets are recommending a specific diet for dogs with STS.
This helps strengthen the dog so the body can fight cancer and prevent its growth. Conventional treatments will not only destroy cancer but will also destroy your dog’s overall health and will weaken their body.
There is no proven anti-cancer diet for dogs. However, it’s essential your dog is fed a well-balanced diet and they receive their key nutrients in order to stay strong throughout their treatment.
First, don’t feed your dog any food or scraps with toxic and harmful ingredients. Dogs can’t eat grapes or garlic. In addition, certain foods pose a greater risk of developing Campylobacter or Salmonella.
While you shouldn’t completely cut out carbohydrates, cutting back on carbs help prevent obesity and cuts back on the glucose the tumor uses.
You should also add these nutrients to your dog’s diet:
- Healthy fats (unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, etc.)
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) from dairy products
- Supplements (find dog-specific supplements for omega fatty acids, green tea, and antioxidants such as vitamins E, C, and A)
Always talk to your vet about starting an anti-cancer diet for your dog.
Many vets are utilizing the power of Chinese medicine to help control cancer. Acupuncture is a powerful tool. Acupuncture is mainly used to treat dogs with inflammation and pain-related ailments such as arthritis.
Acupuncture can’t cure cancer but it can comfort your dog and treat their symptoms. Invasive treatments come with a whole range of side effects. This includes nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, and vomiting.
Acupuncture can help ease these symptoms so your dog can comfortably continue their treatment.
Medicinal mushrooms have been a popular cancer treatment option for dogs. Different mushrooms can help different types of cancer. For soft tissue sarcoma, it’s recommended your dog takes reishi mushroom.
Reishi mushrooms, in particular, are high in alpha and beta glucans.
This helps modulate the immune system. This helps slow cancer cell growth and can even kill cancer cells (more research needs to prove this). Reishi mushrooms also help treat many chemotherapy side effects.
Keep in mind, you should buy the whole mushroom and not just the mycelium. Mycelium has lower medicinal properties as opposed to the whole mushroom.
Herbal Chemotherapy Agents
If your dog has high-stage STS, they can benefit from herbal chemotherapy agents. The most common examples include Essiac and Neoplasene.
Essiac is a formula that contains slippery elm, burdock root, India rhubarb root, and sheep sorrel. Neoplasene can only be used on prescription-basis and a recommendation by a veterinarian.
More pet owners are implementing the cannabinoid CBD into their pet’s healing regimen.
More research has to be done on its benefits for dogs, especially in cancer research. But research has been positive, showing CBD oil can reduce pain and calm dogs.
Keep in mind, veterinarians can’t write a prescription and some local and state laws prevent vets from recommending cannabis products.
Make sure the CBD oil you give dogs is only made with hemp oil to ensure there’s no trace of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
You can also use essential oils to treat your dog’s cancer. The best option is Boswellia sacra, commonly known as frankincense.
While research is limited, this essential oil can fight inflammation and be able to destroy cancer cells. However, it hasn’t been found to destroy cancer cells in dogs or specifically soft tissue sarcoma cancer cells.
Artemisinin is a substance derived from the Artemisia plant.
It has several therapeutic properties but its been in the media for its cancer-killing benefits. Research has been positive and many studies have been safely and effectively done on dogs.
While it’s not proven it can treat soft tissue sarcoma, artemisinin is a good option if your dog can’t have conventional treatment or pet owners want a holistic cancer treatment alternative.
In addition, you can use artemisinin with chemotherapy.
STS Non-Holistic Treatment Options
Even though holistic medicine is increasing and becoming a more effective treatment option, there’s a chance your vet will recommend aggressive treatment measures to destroy cancer. Here are some advanced treatment options.
This helps prevent and/or delay tumor growth. Radiation is also another option if the tumor is too large and surgery isn’t an option. Radiation is focused on onsite tumors and your dog will receive most side effects in that one area.
This is the measure that most vets try before radiation or chemo.
Surgically removing the tumors will help remove the tumor and all of the cancerous tissue to prevent the regrowth and spread of cancer. It may take a couple of operations before your vet can remove all of the tumors and tissue.
Keep in mind, these procedures are very invasive. If the surgeon doesn’t remove all of the tissue, there’s a good chance the tumor will regrow.
Fortunately, no further treatment is usually required unless the tumor grows back or cancer spreads.
Chemotherapy is usually only used for high-grade STS. This prevents and/or delays cancer spreading. The vet can use chemotherapy alone or with other treatment methods.
Heal Your Dog With Holistic Medicine
Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs. There are many types of cancer, including soft tissue sarcoma. It’s important to understand soft tissue sarcoma to prevent and treat it.
While many vets will recommend conventional treatments, it’s also worth looking into holistic treatment. More research is showing herbal treatments are not only effective but can help benefit your dog’s health in the long-term.
Are you looking for holistic and herbal medications for your dog? You came to the right place! Visit our product recommendations page if you’re unsure what you need.