NuVet Supplement=Same Old Snake Oil

A client recently asked me about a product, NuVet supplement, which after a little investigation seems to be the yet another fine example of snake oil marketing. It is quite similar to a product I reviewed not that long ago, Protandim, though all quack remedies share a lot of characteristics (as my reviews of DogtorRx, Supraglan, and others illustrate). Many of these characteristics are classic warning signs of snake oil, and in the case of NuVet, these include:

A “kitchen-sink” mixture of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other ingredients, some of which are essential nutrients or have individually shown some interesting properties in test tubes and mice, but none of which shown to be safe and effective in treating or preventing any disease in dogs or cats.

This hodgepodge is advertised as treating many unrelated diseases (cataracts, Cushing’s diseases, diabetes, allergies, etc) with good results and no risks. These include:

Vague claims are made about treating “oxidative stress” and “inflammation”, with the implication that “anti-oxidant” and “anti-inflammatory” agents must automatically be safe and beneficial.

Glowing testimonials are offered to support the wild claims made, but not a single clinical study has been done to demonstrate the truth of any of them.

A money-back guarantee is offered, though how this compensates for the suffering or even death of your pet caused by relying on an untested and probably useless remedy isn’t really clear.

Too good to be true? You bet!

What Is It?
The two products NuVet promotes are NuVet Plus and the NuJoint Plus. The joint supplement contains glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM. I have written about these ingredients before (1, 2) and the bottom line is that human and animal research evidence strongly suggests there is no benefit to taking these products for people or animals with arthritis. Barring contamination with something toxic, which happens surprisingly often due to the lack of effective regulation of supplements, NuJoint is probably harmless and useless.

The ingredient list for NuVet is much longer:

Alfalfa (Canine formula only) Alpha Amylase Amino Acids Beta Carotene Blue Green Algae Brewer’s Yeast Cat’s Claw Chicken Liver Copper Evening Primrose Oil Iron L Methionine Magnesium Manganese Oyster Shell Papain Phosphorus Pine Bark Potassium Selenium (Yeast) Shark Cartilage Taurine (Feline formula only) Vitamin A Vitamin B Complex Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Vitamin B12 Vitamin C (Ester C™) Vitamin E Whey Protein (Feline formula only) Zinc

Talk about everything but the kitchen sink! The rationales given for the inclusion of each range from vague descriptions of what the normal role of some of the nutrients is in the body to totally unsupported assertions about supposed magical clinical benefits. I will address these claims in a moment.

The story behind the “discovery” of this elixir is either a perfect example of the naïve and unscientific thinking that should warn consumers they are being offered snake oil, or it is a carefully crafted marketing gimmick.

It all began years ago when I was noticing certain changes in my beloved furry companion, Elvis…Even though I had always cared for him and tried to give him the best food available, it became apparent that Elvis needed something more. After several trips to our veterinarian and at a cost that I don’t even want to think about, I was left to try and find a solution on my own. All the medications and changes to his diet wasn’t making any kind of significant difference and I feared my best buddy was quickly slipping away from me. I tried all kinds of vitamin and herbal supplements because I knew there was something his body needed that he wasn’t getting but I just couldn’t find the right stuff.

It occurred to me that, like my Elvis, many other dogs and cats were not taking a sufficient regimen of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants equivalent to advanced human supplements used to fight against the damaging effects of free radicals, which are a major cause of disease. I thought that the right combination, in the exact formulation, using only the highest quality of ingredients, would be required to rid pets of these damaging elements and would create a scenario for greater health and a much longer life span.

Blake G. Kirschbaum President

Mr. Kirschbaum goes on to claim his product is needed because of “obvious” deficiencies in conventional pet diets.

Because most pets lack proper nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in their diet, even when they are getting the top of the line food, NuVet® scientists understood the necessity of filling this dangerous gap. Commercial pet foods can contain harmful “by-products” and useless fillers that can be toxic to pets, causing allergies and serious diseases. This kind of atypical diet creates a scenario whereby their food may actually be creating unstable oxygen molecules known as Free Radicals.

The next step after this brilliant insight was to set up a crack team to develop and promote the magic supplement all dogs and cats apparently need.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and established NuVet Labs®. I put together a team of highly respected scientific, medical and pet industry professionals that had the same goal as I did; to create a nutritional product that would go beyond current supplements that only gave symptomatic relief. Our objective was to make a truly effective nutritional supplement that would attack the root cause of sickness and disease, eliminating the free radicals and other sources of the problem, once and for all. This became my mission and although it took our team 8 years to perfect the formula, we finally got it right. An independent laboratory tested several dogs and cats, varying in age, size, and health conditions, under the direct supervision of a team of veterinarians. 

Our Advisory Team is composed of a veterinarian, a doctor of pharmacy, a pet supplement and pet food formulator, a doctor of optometry, a licensed financial advisor, a litigation insurance administrator and a senior hospital purchasing manager.

Eight years of effort dedicated to solving the root causes of all disease finally vindicated by an unpublished test in “several dogs and cats.” Wow!

I have added the emphasis above to highlight the pre-existing faith Mr. Kirshbaum evinces in the nature of his dog’s health problems (nutrient deficiency and free radical damage) and the solution (the “right” supplement), as well as the astounding arrogance and naïveté  this narrative demonstrates. The very foundational principles behind this product are unproven and scientifically empty beliefs, not well-established principles of health and disease. And the claim being made is that the One True Cause of disease, and its solution, which has eluded all scientists everywhere in the world has now been cooked up by one visionary and his small team of mavericks Not a good start.

Does It Work?
The underlying theory that all these disparate chronic diseases for which scientific medicine does not have a definitive cause or cure are caused by oxidative damage due to poor diets is nonsense. While free radicals exist and do cause cellular damage and even disease, this little core of real science has been rebuilt into a bogeyman that bears no resemblance to the truth. Like all overly broad and simplistic ideas, the oxidative damage hypothesis has proven far less robust than initial enthusiasm for it would have suggested, and many purported anti-oxidants have turned out to provide little benefit in preventing or treating disease, and even in some cases have been shown to be actively harmful (e.g. 3, 4, 5).

While many of the individual ingredients in the product are essential nutrients, there is absolutely no reason to believe that they provide any health benefits except in cases in which a pet is deficient in a specific nutrient. Providing excessive vitamins and minerals to prevent or treat diseases is seldom beneficial and, again, sometimes actively harmful (e.g. 6, 7, 8).  And there is extensive evidence to show that while commercial diets are by no means perfect, they are not the deleterious pile of toxins and garbage described by those who are trying to sell supplements (e.g. 9, 10).

As for the other ingredients:

Alpha Amylase: There is no truth to the claim that digestive enzymes are beneficial for normal animals (11)

Bluegreen Algae- There is no reliable evidence to support the health claims NuVet makes for this ingredient (12). And some species of bluegreen can be highly toxic, especially to dogs (13).

Brewer’sYeatst- A source of B vitamins, but not an effective flea control product (14).

Cat’s Claw- There is weak clinical evidence in humans of anti-inflammatory properties to some of the chemicals in this herb, and there are also reports of serious side-effects (15). There is no controlled research evidence to show safety or any benefits in dogs and cats.

Evening Primrose Oil- There is limited evidence for benefits treating eczema in humans, and otherwise no solid evidence of benefit for any other disease (16). It may be a good source of essential fatty acids, which could theoretically have some benefits for allergic skin disease or arthritis. Obviously, the claims concerning cholesterol and atherosclerosis are irrelevant since dogs and cats do not suffer from this disease.

Papain- There is limited evidence for benefits of papain in humans for shingles and sore throat, and no reliable evidence for any other benefits (17). There is no reason to believe it has value as a “digestive enzyme,” and the limited research on it as a hairball remedy in cats and rabbits has not shown any real benefit.

Pine Bark Extract- There is some laboratory and animal model evidence that chemicals in this extract have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity, but actual clinical benefits have not been demonstrated in human or animal clinical trials (18). As always for any chemical with real physiologic activities, there is the potential for side-effects (19). I am not aware of any clinical trials investigating the use of this ingredient in dogs or cats.

Shark Cartilage- Shark cartilage has been proven ineffective for advanced cancers of various kinds, and there is inadequate evidence to show benefit for any other condition (20, 21). The harvesting of sharks for this supplement as well as for food contributes to the decline of threatened and endangered shark species (22).

And finally, as well as most important, there appears to be  absolutely no published research evidence of any kind evaluating the safety or purported benefits of this product. That is not a good sign.

Is It Safe?
As indicated for the specific ingredients above, harm can result from indiscriminate use of even essential nutrients. The amounts of each ingredient in the final product are not made available to the public, so it is impossible to evaluate the safety of the doses even for those ingredients for which safe and unsafe levels have been established.

Due to the inadequate regulation of dietary supplements and herbal products, it is impossible to ensure the accuracy of ingredient lists or the absence of dangerous contaminants, both of which have been real problems for such products (23, 24). There is also no formal system for collecting and evaluating reports of harm from such products, so the only assurance of the safety of the product is the word of the manufacturer.

Bottom Line
This product is a hodgepodge of nutrients, herbal ingredients, and nutraceuticals thrown together with no clear logic or rationale. The claims that many pet diseases are due to toxins or other deficiencies in commercial diets and to oxidative damage are unsupported by any real evidence. Only a few of the specific claims for the ingredients in the mixture are backed by research evidence, and the quality of this is generally poor and only available for humans. The advertising of the product contains many of the hallmarks of snake oil marketing, but it does not contain any research evidence at all concerning the safety or effectiveness of the product, because none appears to exist.

While I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of the manufacturer of this product, I believe it is unethical to sell a product with no research establishing the safety or efficacy of the product for any disease and with little to no research even into the safety and efficacy of its constituents. Promoting the product with unproven or outright false claims about pet nutrition and disease designed to instill fear in pet owners and with wild and ridiculous claims about the effectiveness of the product for numerous unrelated diseases is wrong regardless of how sincerely the manufacturer believes in their own pseudoscientific theories. Any responsible manufacturer of a medical therapy should be expected to demonstrate their claims through rigorous science before profiting from the desperate need of people with sick pets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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78 Responses to NuVet Supplement=Same Old Snake Oil

  1. Groomer says:

    Thank you for this blog. I was contacted by a sales agent at NuVet just yesterday. He said “at no cost” to me I can offer this product to my client. But I honestly felt really uncomfortable agreeing to promote something I know so little about and I have no background in veterinary medicine so I told him I wanted to do some research first. This blog alone was much more informative than their own website. Thank you again!

  2. skeptvet says:

    I’m glad this was helpful!

  3. Linda Lingerfelt says:

    I am new to your website and found this review very informative since NuVet was the first company to come up for dog allergies. My 6 1/2 year old 90# Pit Mix has allergies recently acquired. I have had her on 3 different dry dog foods – Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul (she ate this for many months, than refused to eat it) – next was Natural Balance Venison (she ate this pretty good for about a week, than refused to eat it – next was Taste of the Wild Salmon (mixed with the Venison she ate this heartily for almost a week, now just eats a little of it). She is itching and scratching and basically refusing to eat ANY dry dog food. In addition to the dry food she gets 1 can of chicken and rice which seems to be the only one she tolerates (it’s a “house” brand). If you could help me with an answer to what you would recommend as an allergy supplement and a recommended dry dog food (if I need both), I would greatly appreciate it. If not, I have a LOT of research to do. I’m pretty sure 2 of the 3 dry foods she has been on are produced by Diamond Foods, which I didn’t know at the time or wouldn’t have gotten them because of the bad recall they had a while back. Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.

  4. skeptvet says:

    I’m afraid I can’t give specific advice for your pet since I am not her veterinarian. In general, diet trial involve picking a new primary protein source and strictly eliminating all others for 2-3 months before any change is likely to be seen. And there are many sources of allergies besides food proteins, so diet change may not dramatically improve symptoms, in which case other causes have to be investigated. I would strongly suggest working closely with your regular veterinarian or, if it is possible for you, with a board-certified veterinary dermatologist. Allergies require lifelong management tailored to the individual needs of the particular patient, and there is no simple or quick solution.

    As for supplements, most have never been properly tested, so using them is a bit of a roll of the dice. Here is an evidence-based review of allergy treatments which might provide some general guidance.

    Good luck!

  5. Diane Mede says:

    Hello, I just found your website trying to find information about this so called “miracle cure” NUVET. I am at my wits end trying to help my 11 year old Lab live the rest of his years as comfortable as possible. When Buddy was 2 he developed epilepsy and has been on Phenobarbital since that time, increasing the dosage over the years when seizures occur. In the past year arthritis has been diagnosed in his joints and I have held off on considering meds, but lately he can hardly move around and realized it is time to start him on something. My Vet first prescribed Carprofen and then remembered it couldn’t be given with Phenobarbital. Then prescribed Tramadol and when I got home I looked into that and found out it can cause seizures! One of my Co-workers swears by Nuvet products for her dog but I honestly don’t know what to do and neither does my Vet. I would appreciate your words of wisdom.

  6. skeptvet says:

    Yes, just as in humans our elderly pets often have multiple diseases, and that complicates therapy. I would disagree that NSAIDs cannot be given with phenobarbital. The concern is that phenobarbital can have effects on liver function, and since the liver breaks down NSAIDs, if the liver is not working normally it is possible to have an accumulation of the NSAID and consequent side effects. However, there are ways to evaluate liver function, and many dogs on phenobarbital can tolerate NSAIDs quite well. Given that these are by far the most effective medications for arthritis pain, it might be worth considering using them cautiously. Nothing is without risk, but some risk may be appropriate if the problem is severe enough.

    Tramadol does not seem to be a very effective pain reliever on its own, so it isn’t likely to be sufficient. There are many other potential therapies, though the research is limited on many of them, and there are always tradeoffs between risks and benefits for any therapy.

    Here is a collection of articles of mine on some arthritis therapies.

    And here is a published review of the research evidence for some treatments in humans published by a group of orthopedic specialists.

    Good luck!

  7. richard nemeth says:

    Let me first say its easy to discount any product with the skeptisim you used in this article. Here is a real life issue that my family had with our 9 yr old german shepherd. My wife noticed one night while with the dog there was something up in her left nostril, she called me frantically over to have a look, what I saw was some kind of smooth pinkish growth completely filling the whole left nostril. My wife took her to the vet and he gave her his opinion that it was a tumor and most likely cancerous but took a sample to send it out. My wife was devistated and cried for days. The results came back positive and he said it was all through the nasil cavaity and there was no viable treatment and that it was an agressive type and so advanced that would take her life in a matter of weeks. In a desperate mode I searched for anything that might help prolong her life as she was still a lovable and happy dog, thats when I found NuVet and read all the crazy claims. being 100% skeptical I ordered some for at the least it was something to try. After three months we took her back to the vet and he was speechless as the growth had restracted from her nostril with no visable sign with a scope. He could not believe the change and asked what we were doing and we said we were giving her two tablets of the NuVet. He said to continue what we were doing as it obviously helping. She went on to live for 16 months after we first took her to the vet. So this was not a scientific study of any kind but I can tell you that after giving this to our beloved pet it helped her not only to stop the spread of the cancer but actually reduced it. I would not have believed it myself but you certainly shouldnt discount and discourage someone that was in our position of having a last chance of extending a pet lifes that means so much to many families.

  8. skeptvet says:

    While I’m glad for you that you had more time with your pet, the fact is that it is far more likely that the mass was misdiagnosed and simply not an aggressive cancer than it is that this supplement extended her survival over a year. Either there was a miraculous result, in which case it should be easy for the company to prove this wonder drug really works, or the supplement had nothing to do with what happened and you were simply given the wrong diagnosis.

    So why does it matter? Well, because the next person will come along and read your story and may choose this product over truly effective medicine, and their pet may suffer because they trust an anecdote rather than real scientific research. Skepticism isn’t about being mean or closed-minded; it is about protecting animals from ineffective or harmful treatments that may look good in terms of uncontrolled anecdotes but that don’t really work.

  9. Mindy says:

    Unfortunately, that “real scientific research” costs millions to do, and is easily faked to discredit natural remedies. I don’t see anywhere on the site saying people should give this product to their pet INSTEAD OF the standard medicine. Why not both?

  10. skeptvet says:

    1. There are many examples of people recommending so-called “natural remedies” instead of real medicine, on this blog and anywhere you care to look.

    2. Selling these products is a multi-billion dollar industry, and companies that do so spend a far smaller proportion of their profits on research than companies developing scientific therapies, primarily because the latter are regulated and the snake oil makers are essentially not. Why should they not have a responsibility to prove their products work and are safe before they sell them? We expect this level of consumer protection for most products, but not for anything you arbitrarily slap the label “natural” or “holistic” on, and it is a dangerous omission.

    3. If you this there is a conspiracy to fake research results to discredit “natural” remedies, you are buying into a bit of total nonsense invented solely to protect makers and sellers of these products from meeting the same standards of evidence expected of everyone else.

  11. Mike C says:

    After my dog started getting some bumps on her skin, I tried NuVet. One bottle did nothing, and they encouraged me to double the dose, two tablets per day. To my amazement, when I started giving her two per day, the bump on her leg completely vanished and another one on her back side began to shrink. I stopped giving them to her after that, but I think I may start again. It’s certainly not snake oil. I was also skeptical at first but you don’t know until you try it. If anyone wants to email me, I’m not a shill, my email is d a x 7 0 2 AT gmail.com (no spaces)

  12. skeptvet says:

    So it didn’t work and then you gave more and the bump went away. Any chance the bumps would have gone away anyway? Anything else that might have been responsible? Can you see why this isn’t a reliable way to evaluate a medical treatment?

    Look at it this way. If you did a study looking at risk factors for lung cancer, you could find a strong correlation between carrying matches and cancer. People who carry matches are many, many times more likely to die of lung cancer than people who don’t carry matches. So matches must cause lung cancer, right? Except, of course, they don’t. Smoking causes lung cancer, and carrying matches is just a characteristic of people who happen to smoke. The way things seem isn’t always how they are, which is why we need science.

    I can show you hundreds of testimonials from people who said they had symptoms of some disease, they had some blood drained out of their body by a doctor, and their symptoms went away. That’s why we practiced bloodletting for thousands of years. Only we now know that it not only didn’t help, it actually made people less likely to get better. You simply can’t trust this kinds of stories, even when they are your own.

    If you are interested, HERE is a great article on why bogus therapies can look like they work when they don’t.

  13. Dave says:

    The breeder we’re getting our new Lab from insists we buy this product for our pup to keep the health guarantee valid. So now what? I guess I could buy some and try it out on the lizards around my deck. If they grow into un-arthritic gators I’ll know it works.

  14. skeptvet says:

    Yes, breeders often attach quirky requirements to their guarantees. Just a rabbit’s foot to ward off evil and/or a way of weaseling out of responsibility if anything does go wrong. Good luck with the puppy, and the lizards! :-)

  15. Jonathan Meyers says:

    I want to complement you on providing a voice of reason in an area where charlatans prevail. So many of these “remedies” which are peddled to address inexplicable conditions are worthless and expensive; their promoters exploit the fears and hopes of a sadly gullible target market.

    I found your website when going to reorder NuVet Plus, which the breeder from which we purchased our weimeraner insisted we give to her each day for the rest of her life. I was suspicious then — and still am — that Nuvet Labs provides the breeder with a “kick-back” for each bottle, which I must buy directly from the manufacturer.

    Now to be fair, I can say that this once-a-day tablets have one clearly demonstrable benefit. They have been hugely effective in keeping pink elephants away!

  16. skeptvet says:

    Now to be fair, I can say that this once-a-day tablets have one clearly demonstrable benefit. They have been hugely effective in keeping pink elephants away!

    I totally understand. I have a magic charm (well, actually it’s my wallet) that repels polar bears. Any day I’ve carried my wallet here in California, I’ve failed to be attacked by polar bears. Of course, on those days I forget my wallet, I’m also not attacked by polar bears, but that’s not going to make me into one of those disbelieving cynics! ;-)

    Glad you found the blog useful.

  17. Chad says:

    Yup. “Referral code” from the breeder who probably has all the best intentions but fell victim to a classic sales trap.

    The vitamins could work fine but I’m not buying them when their sales strategy is to compensate the breeders for pushing them rather than building trust with the public through an actual quality product.

  18. Garrett says:

    Yeah, the breeder I just got my Schnauzer puppy from demands that I buy nuvet for the puppy, else their guarantee is void. They then dropped the referral code thing on me, and said that they would know if we didn’t order all of the two years. This is obviously a kickback scam. This bit of extortion has me questioning everything else the breeder has told me.

  19. Kelly says:

    Skeptvet. I’m curious if you have any affiliations to the pet pharmaceutical industry? If so, what are they? I’m curious if there are any biases to your claims.

  20. skeptvet says:

    I don’t believe you’re curious, I believe you’re looking for an excuse to dismiss what I say. If I worked for a pharmaceutical company, would that excuse NuVet making claims for their product without evidence? Even if I were clearly biased, would that make me wrong? Since NuVet makes money from their product, aren’t they biased? Isn’t anything they say on their website the same as something a pharmaceutical company says on theirs?

    Anyway, the “shill gambit” is just an excuse for ignoring legitimate criticism and not responding with real evidence. You can easily find out my background and affiliations, and though I am in private clinical practice and have no direct association with the pharmaceutical industry, I’m sure you’ll find some way to ignore what I say based on something you don’t like about me personally. It’s an all-too-common, though completely illegitimate, form of argument.

  21. kelly says:

    Nope. Just curious.

  22. Sandy Shaw says:

    I have a healthy 4.5 month little Maltese. She eats meat, cheese, bread & Science Diet puppy food, and sometimes grabs some of our cats’ kibble.
    Is there any actual need for supplements>? On her first grooming appointment, the groomer suggested NUVet would clear up/prevent the yellowing (from eyes/tears).
    I am skeptical….
    ss

  23. Leif says:

    When we bought our puppy, the sales contract stated:
    ‘NUVet PLUS tablets: This is a mandatory wafer that you will need to keep you puppy on.
    As I have explained to you the importance of everything that is in this wafer.’ [sic]
    After reading about NUVet, we called them and canceled our order.
    Our breeder knew about the cancellation within 48 hours, so NuVet must have called her.

    On Scam.com ‘Happy Tales’ states:
    ‘Yes, I have heard of [NuVet] and I promote their products.
    The order code is for identifying the referrer and we do get commissions.’
    Happy Tales then goes on to state: ‘This is not an MLM marketing scam.’

    Happy Tales is right. It’s not multi-level marketing–
    it’s a good, old fashioned kickback scheme.
    NuVet is written into the contract
    and the ‘referrer’ (ie. the breeder) receives a commission without the purchaser’s knowledge.
    A quick Google search indicates
    that NuVet clauses appear in puppy contracts with alarming frequency.
    It turns up so often that it practically has to be part of NuVet’s marketing plan.

    NuVet Labs is operating unethically and possibly illegally.
    If NuVet really offers the benefits they promise, why they can’t they sell it honestly?

  24. Linda says:

    I also find annoying that some breeders require puppy buyers in the contract to use NuVet. Fortunately I asked for the contract before committing, so when I saw that clause, I backed out.

    Thank you for your article.

  25. YinMei Quan says:

    I hear what you are saying about NuVet, and your logic is flawless. What other remedy is there that can reduce a tumour though? My 70pound Labrador with Chow mix has developed a sizable tumour on her tongue, we discovered it when we came home one day and she must have bitten down on it. Our tile floor looked like a crime scene, bright red blood everywhere. I called two vets to ask what can be done and they were not optimistic due to her advanced age of 13 years and they told me to give her soft food instead of dry and to prepare for the worst possible news. A $35 visit to the vet confirms what the first two telephone diagnosis suspected, the growth is, without a biopsy, but according to her experience, very aggressive, will probably return quickly if removed by surgery, a $1287 option given – but she discouraged us from putting her through this procedure. The growth was not well located at the tip of the tongue for easy removal, it is centered and meant loss of half her tongue, which severely reduces quality of life for any animal. Also, if indeed the growth was cancerous (no biopsy has been done) it would strike at the lungs quickly and then, game over.

    That week, her nose had become dry and off color, I could hear her struggling to breathe through her nose, she is constantly drooling blood and her appetite has diminished (unless I am eating, then she happily catches lightly toasted sliced bread). She has trouble lapping water from a bowl now, so to keep her hydrated, several times a day I take her to the hose outside and let it stream down into her mouth, washing out small bloody chunks of debris. She breathes better now, her nose looks better and she wags her tail happily when show affection and has not lost weight as the vets predicted would be a very bad sign. But half the food (moist meaty Alpo from cans instead of dry Beneful she grew up on) that goes in her mouth falls right out after lots of chewing and head jerking to get it past the tumour, looking totally unchewed.

    Unless I can get better advice than putting her down, I may try these wafers, even if there is only a 10% chance the manufacturer stumbled onto a combination of ingredients that reduces tumours and can give her a few months more months for $60, or dare I hope for as long as a year, of comfortable eating and breathing. I respectfully ask your opinion about that decision.

  26. skeptvet says:

    The fact that there may not be an established effective treatment, or that the treatments that do exist are imperfect or expensive understandably makes people desperate to try any alternative. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any more likely that these treatments will do any good or any less likely that they might cause harm. There have been several studies in human medicine showing that even people dying of incurable cancer can be made sicker and die even sooner when they gamble on untested therapies (read this article). So we have to remember that rolling the dice carries a chance of losing as well as winning, which means we can make things worse.

    If there is truly no other option, I don’t fault anyone for taking such a chance, of course. But I would be certain that is really the case. Without a biopsy, you don’t know for sure what this is. And I have personally removed large tongue masses from dogs who have gone on to have months and sometimes years of good quality of life depending on what the tumor was and what other therapies they used. So if you truly have no choice, my best guess is this treatment won’t help, though you will likely be inclined to give it credit for any good outcome whether it is responsible or not despite the fact that she has already shown some temporary improvement and not yet started to lose weight even without therapy, as sometimes happen. And it probably won’t hurt, though we are as uncertain of that as we are of any benefit. I won’t say trying this is the wrong thing to do wince I’m not in your shoes, but I will say that we don’t generally make the best decisions when we are scared and desperate.

    Good luck to both of you.

  27. v.t. says:

    YinMei,

    I would at least get the opinion of one or two qualified and board-certified veterinary oncologists to determine your options. Unfortunately, without a biopsy, you don’t know what you’re dealing with, or your options for treating palliatively vs aggressively.

    You could also discuss with your vet anti-inflammatories for reducing the size of the mass prior to potential surgical removal (and to aid in chewing etc).

  28. Incredible comments all around! Any suggestions for a Vitamin supplement? Now as a cat breeder of Persians and Exotics ….. I feed real food – raw meat – krill oil – and a vitamin supplement…..

    For those who have pets suffering from allergies… a tip — get rid of the dry food of any kind – dry food puts the animal in a constant state of dehydration and is a major stress on the system…. one of the reactions is all kinds of kidney and bladder issues as well as the onset of allergies and let’s not forget the arthritis issues – the rice is also a problem i… cats and dogs don’t eat grains of any kind in their natural environment – if you think back on feral cats and wolves ! You will see a lot of improvement if you quit the dry food. They are ok as a treat once and a while, but do a lot of damage internally as a main supply of food. You can get good cat food menus without grains in cans, better the frozen menus for them and then the fresh you make yourself..

    Dry food is so convenient for the humans and so a great health damage for the pets…. you freak out when you read the ingredients….

    Good luck with the new menus and the new health of your pets…. and if someone has a tip on a good vitamin supplement I would be happy…..

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