While we decided against Lola undergoing chemo treatments, we were advised to at least place her on prednisone. The statistics I have read time and time again are:
Life expectancy following a diagnosis of Lymphoma: (in general)
3-4 weeks, without any form of treatment
7-8 weeks, with the use of prednisone alone
Up to 8 months, with chemo treatments
Currently she takes 20mg a day and sometimes also receives a shot at the vet called Dexamethasone.
Dexamethasone is a potent synthetic member of the glucocorticoid class of steroid drugs. It acts as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. When taken orally, it is 26.6 times more potent than the naturally occurring hormone cortisol and 6.6 times more potent than prednisone. The "dex" shot works almost immediately to help open her airways to allow her to breathe easier.
Having her take these medications does not make me happy, as I know the harmful side effects they can have. Which leads me to my research in trying to find a natural route to ween her off the pred and only have her on natural remedies. Unfortunately, as I write this, she is having a horrible spell and is having extreme difficulty breathing. She didn't get much sleep Saturday night (neither did I) and all I can do is wait until Monday morning to rush her into the vet to get her shot.
I have been researching anything that may help her during these sorts of spells. Until we are able to shrink that tumor in her lungs, this will be a constant battle.
The following is what I have come across in my research and will be remedies that I will begin to put into place.
Dogs that get prednisone as a short term treatment (i.e. 1 to 4 weeks) may not experience any side effects. However, if the treatment is lengthy, prednisone may cause a number of side effects, including:
- Immunity suppression, which makes the dog more susceptible to infections; the immune system cannot protect the dog, so his health must be carefully monitored and secondary diseases must be treated as soon as they occur
- Increased appetite, that leads to weight gain
- Increased thirst and more
- Water retention, caused by the sodium in the salt, in case the dog has a diet rich in salts
- Fluid in the stomach
- Myocardial arrest
- Oily skin, which may be due to hormonal imbalance
- Coarse hair, unhealthy looking coat
- Sudden aggressiveness
- Ulcers, stomach problems
- Diabetes mellitus
Other studies of turmeric and curcumin have shown the following benefits:
- Turmeric extract worked as well as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug for treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee in a study published in the August 2009 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Laboratory studies suggest that curcumin acts as a weak phytoestrogen and seems to have cancer protective effects.
- Lab studies have also shown that curcumin induces programmed death of colon cancer cells, and clinical trials are investigating the use of curcumin in treatment of colon cancer.
- Curcumin suppresses microinflammation in the GI tract associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
Neither curcumin nor turmeric taken orally is well absorbed unless taken with black pepper or piperine, a constituent of black pepper responsible for its pungency. When shopping for supplements, make sure that the one you choose contains black pepper extract or piperine. (If you're cooking with turmeric, be sure to add some black pepper to the food.). Be patient when taking turmeric supplements: the full benefits may not be apparent for eight weeks.
I think I am going to test out Dong Quai as the alternative and see how she makes out with that. I also am going to ask my vet if he knows of any alternatives to getting her fast relief if something like this should happen again when they are not open.
If anyone has tried anything else, please let me know.