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Kick Pet Cancer's Ass!

Friday October 13, 2017

Author: Karen Spinelli

If someone told you that there were ways to maximize your pet's life, would you listen?  What if they told you there were ways to minimize the chance your dog would ever get a disease (or at least recovery fully from one)?


And what if they said that, even if your pet already was dealing with a diagnosis of the big “c”  (which will remain nameless, and un-capitalized as not to put its energy out into the universe), that they could still help improve their quality of life?


Well when I heard those claims from the live-streamed three day conference “The Truth About Cancer”,  I listened.  How could I not?  Even if I could glean a sliver of helpful information, if I didn’t watch, I would have always wondered “what if….”.


I watched the presentations they did that focused on pet health.   In my last blog I told you about the one entitled “Preventing and Treating Cancer in Pets”.


The other great one, that I want to share with you today, was “Clues from Canines: the Ketogenic Cancer Cure”  by Dr. Karen Becker (an integrative care veterinarian) and Rodney Habib (of Planet  It was a sneak preview of their upcoming documentary series “The Truth About Pet Cancer”  ( as well as information from his “The Dog Cancer Series”  (


 So why am I sitting here surrounded by my chicken-scratch notes, trying to summarize all the complex information into a blog article?  Number one, I don’t want to forget anything, and I ‘m hoping re-writing it will help it stick in my memory. 


Number two, how could I know about this, and not share it with other pet lovers?  My goal is to let this be YOUR sneak preview to their upcoming documentary.  A diving board that makes you want to jump in and go to their website to learn more. 


Number three, because I remember seeing facebook posts about it in the past, “liking” it because I liked the idea of the topic, but never opening the link because I didn’t want to get bummed out by thinking about pets with cancer.  But I was lucky enough to have a friend separately tell me about this live-stream, so started watching it before I realized this was that same people and topic I had seen months ago online. 


I’m so glad that I was taken in through a back door, and braved the “icky” parts of it all to get to the light at the end of the tunnel – which is that there’s a lot we can do to take control back over things we thought we have no control over.



My disclaimer is that I am not saying if we all do these things, no pets will ever get sick again.  I wish I was.  A lot of co-mingling factors go into the slow build-up to developing dis-ease.  And sometimes, even when someone does all the right things, cruddy things still happen.  I wish they didn’t.  But let’s owe it to ourselves and our pets to at least listen to what they have to say.


Heck, even if motivates us to change one thing to a more positive direction, isn’t it worth the time it took to read about it?  Or watch their presentation?  For me, my answer is “YES!”.


The catalyst of Rodney's research, and this new documentary with Dr. Becker, is that Rodney’s dog, Cali, was diagnosed with cancer - after he thought he was doing all the right things to keep her healthy.  This then sent him on a personal mission to find out what went wrong, and if there was anything that could be done to turn things around.  (Hot tip – the answer was “YES!”)


I would recommend you go to their websites for the details, but let me share with you the notes I summarized for myself, in order to help me with my own dogs' best health….   (I’ll put some of my own thoughts in parenthesis as I go along.)






Ideas I want to Remember from the “Clues from Canines” presentation:



1)  1)  Sure there is a genetic factor in cancer – but only 10%  

     The other 90% is environment & lifestyle – things we have some control over!

·         Smoke

·         Molds

·         Chemicals

     *   Pesticides (including monthly preventative for heartworm, flea/tick),

         herbicides, fertilizers, cleaning products, laundry detergents, flame retardant materials, plastics

·         Over-vaccination 

     *   (I always titer first!)

·         Electro-Magnetic Frequencies (EMF)

     *   the microwave

·         Over-processed food

     *   Preservatives, sweetener, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO),

contaminants, non-human grade ingredients, too many carbohydrates, food break-down results

 ·         Obesity

     *   Too much food

     *   Wrong types of food



2)    2)  What is the result of all of this?

·         Decreasing life spans  (from 1970 to 2017…..  crazy, right?!)

·         Increasing chronic disease and cancers



3)    3)  What can we do?  -  Back to Basics!

·         Decrease carbs to <10% for pets

      *   Carbs breakdown into starch, which breaks down into glucose (sugar)

      *   These trigger insulin receptors

·         Cancer cells have more insulin receptors

     *   Lets cancer “in the door”  (the "insulin doorway")

     *   "Feeds" the cancer!

     *   Sugar is the key that opened that cancer door - and keeps it open!

·         Need to “Starve” those cancer cells!

     *   Periods of fasting/calorie restriction

     *   Don’t open the "insulin door" with glucose/sugar

     *   Use fat as fuel source (instead of carbs)

-  breaks down into fatty acids – then ketones (in the liver)

-  ketones fuel brain, heart, muscles

-  still have fuel, but no “food” for cancer cells!

·         Transforms immune system to work FOR them!

     *   Much of immune system lives in the digestive tract

·         Compare labels on pet foods since they don’t usually list carbs/starches

     *   Add % of Protein, Fat, Moisture, Ash (which they do tell you)

     *   Subtract that % from 100

     *   Now you have the % carbs/starch

     *   At least helps see which foods are better than others (aka less carbs)

-  Don’t just go by the bag’s marketing

-  “grain-free” doesn’t mean carb-free

4)    4)  Proof = KetoPet

·         Organization that rescues shelter dogs with cancer – and changes it!

     (metabolic & oncology docs on staff)

     *   Halts and reverses disease though diet (keto-diet minimizes carbs/starch/glucose/sugar)

     *   Continue protein (65%) and fats (30%)

     *   Cut down carbs (5%)

     *   Over-all calorie restriction



5)    5)  Re-assurance

·         This is “nutritional ketosis

     *   Decreased sugar, decreased insulin

·         Different from the feared “diabetic-keto-acidosis”

     *   Increased sugar, decreased insulin



6)    6)  Goal for pet feeding

·         Use pet’s diet to “heal them, not harm them”!

     *   Decrease carbs  (decreased starch = decreased sugar)

     *   Focus on organic proteins and healthy fats

-  (Think the omega 3 kind)

     *   Focus on adding in more raw and human-grade foods

     *   Focus on decreasing processed kibble

             -(even if you still use it, at least minimize it, and add to it)

  -Find the ones more nutrient dense with lowest carb %






It’s interesting; I remember the building blocks to this concept from a lecture in vet tech school.  It was about how glucose metabolism fuels bodies (people and pets) and what happens if we don’t get enough glucose.  Our body reverts to breaking down fats for energy in place of it, to keep our vital organs functioning.   The term was this “ketosis”. 


There was a brief note about “diabetic keto-acidosis”, where sugar spikes high, so then insulin spikes high to compensate for it, and then they both plummet back down, resulting in the need to compensate for THAT by burning fat for fuel instead.  And how this was not preferable for the long-term, as it was connected to a disease state. 


Much like what can happen when we FEED too much sugar.  Feeding too many carbs, aka starch, aka sugar, actually mimics a disease state!  Crazy, right?! 

In diabetes, the body has metabolic difficulties, causing the sugar to spike, which causes the insulin to spike, which feeds the bad cells.  The only difference is that a high sugar diet (working backwards from a high carbohydrate diet) isn’t genetics, it’s lifestyle, that we have control over.


I remember trying to follow my thought process about using this idea on-purpose with the goal of decreasing an obese dogs weight, which would help decrease inflammation, which would help short circuit a lot of chronic diseases. 


In my thought path, if we “on-purpose” fed our dogs less carbs, there would be less starch, so less glucose, so the body would have to burn it’s stores of fats instead.  Who knew at that time, that this really was a thing…..  and that it was called “nutritional ketosis”!


Unfortunately, the lecture moved quickly on from there, and if I kept contemplating it, I would have fallen behind.  So I tried to keep up, and attempted to “put a pin in” the idea for later.  So there it is – full circle – and that pet feeding idea that stumped my brain that day came back around to me from another direction.  And I’m sure am glad it did!



So there it is – my notes on their presentation, as well as my own post-analyzation musings.  I look forward to learning more from Rodney Habib and Dr Karen Becker in their upcoming docu-series.  I recommend checking out their explanations, since they will give more details - to connect the dots and fill in the color.

Keep in mind, life exists on a continuum.  If you are aiming to prevent disease, and maintain health, you don't have to be as strict as if your pet already has the "c" word as an obstacle to hurdle.  If you're trying to kick cancer's ass, then think of it as being in training for a marathon, and don't take your eye off the prize until you've burst through the ribbon.


Knowing and doing are different things.  I have a better understanding everyday of what I should do, and not do, for both me and my pets to stay as healthy as possible.  I think I’m on the good side of the curve, though I still have a long way to go. 


But it’s all about the journey, right?  As long as we’re always moving toward the positive, we’re going in the right direction. 


Let’s be honest, most of us take better care of our animals than we do of ourselves. And a lot of us are laughing and nodding our head's "yes" right now because we know it's true, right?!   So we’ll probably do all of this for our pets before we do it for ourselves.  And that’s ok.  Maybe when we see their health flourish it will be the motivation we need to tweak our own holistic health plans. 


I can think of no better motivation than extending the years we get to be together with our pets!!!


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