We often hear conflicting information about whether or not dogs can take antioxidants like mushroom therapy at the same time they’re receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments.
This is because radiation therapy itself and many cancer drugs are “pro-oxidant,” (including lomustine, chlorambucil, cyclophosphamide, cisplatin, carboplatin and doxorubicin, among others) meaning they kill cancer cells by generating free radicals.
It’s long been believed by veterinary oncologists that by adding anti-oxidants to your dog’s diet during cancer treatments, you run the risk of preventing the chemo drug from doing its work. To be on the safe side, most oncologists like Dr. Rosenberg suggest waiting until chemotherapy treatments are over before giving antioxidants:
“The problem is there are no great case-controlled clinical trials that are using some of these supplements and immune boosters.. and so we’re really not sure what the best way to use them is or if whether or not they’ll really be beneficial . . . We hope that in the future there will be some elegant studies that show which supplements we can use and how best we can use them,”
In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, Dr. Sue Ettinger advises not giving your dog high levels of antioxidants supplements or herbs known to have potent antioxidant effects. However she adds that:
“I would, however recommend giving a dog on these drugs maintenance (low) levels of antioxidants, because there is enough evidence to show that human cancer patients on chemotherapy and radiation actually benefit from receiving low, dietary levels of maintenance vitamins and antioxidants. They experience shorter hospital stays and fewer side effects, for example.”
She goes on to say that some supplements with antioxidant properties have beneficial aspects that are greater than the potential impact of interfering with the chemotherapy agents. For example, she recommends:
- A general multivitamin with low maintenance levels of antioxidants
- Cordyceps and other mushroom-derived polysaccharides, like those found in K9 Immunity
- Fresh garlic, ginger root and fatty acid supplements (fish and Krill Oil)
- Coenzyme Q
The Dog Cancer Survival Guide has a long “Supplement Hierarchy” list that offers more suggestions. But again, to be safe, bring your ideas to your veterinarian before trying anything new in your dog’s diet.
Please note that we are not vets. The information presented here is not meant to be construed as medical advice or guidance, nor should it be substituted for veterinary assistance. Always discuss any remedies and treatments you wish to pursue with your veterinarian.