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Treating & Preventing Pet Cancer

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Summary

The major shift that led Dr. Gary Richter to transition to holistic and integrative veterinary care.
The improvements seen when implementing an integrative approach while treating pets with cancer.
The real issue with commercial dog food..
Causes of cancer we need to be aware of and avoid for our pets.
Empowering integrative solutions for helping our pets prevent and reverse cancer.

Transcript
Nathan Crane 

Hey, it’s Nathan Crane, director of the Health and Healing Club, and host of the Conquering Cancer Summit. And today, I am honored and excited to welcome you, to a very special interview. Gary Richter, MS, DVM  has been practicing veterinary medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1998. In addition to conventional veterinary medical training, Dr. Richter’s certified in veterinary acupuncture, as well as veterinary chiropractic. As owner and medical director of Holistic Veterinary Care in Oakland, California, Dr. Richter understands the benefits of both conventional and holistic treatment methods for the preventative and therapeutic care of pets. Dr. Richter focuses on the integration of holistic and general practice veterinary medicine, regenerative medicine, as well as educating professionals and pet owners on the benefits of integrative care. Dr. Richter’s website is holisticvetcare.com. Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM , thank you so much for joining us. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Thank you, I’m thrilled to be here. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, honored to be having this conversation with you. I think it’s more important now than ever that we continue to learn what we can do for our pets, for the animals that we love, that are part of our family. I’ve been really dedicated to helping people, millions of people around the world for the last eight years, nine years, specifically with cancer. And even, I’m guilty in my own case of not really knowing enough about taking care of my pets. And so I’ve been learning a lot through this event, and getting to connect with and learn from world-leading experts, holistic integrative veterinarians like yourself, and I’m really excited to, not only learn more for myself and my family, but to be able to share this information with everybody tuning in, to take care of our pets, because I think one, there’s not… This information is not prevalent enough out there, I guess in the mainstream, right. And number two, this information can be lifesaving. So–

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Hmm. 

 

Nathan Crane

I’d love for you to start a little bit… Give us a little bit of foundational on your background, a little bit of foundational information on… What was it that kinda made you wanna focus on holistic and integrative veterinary medicine rather than stay focused on just conventional medicine? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

That’s a great question, and the answer basically lies in… When I was a veterinary student, I had had a little bit of exposure to alternative medicine, nothing really major, certainly nothing that was officially taught in veterinary school, but enough for see it and understand that maybe there was something there. And really I was in veterinary practice for probably about three or four years, and I had been working emergency in general practice and done a number of things over the course of that four years. And one of the things I think maybe a lot of non-medically trained people may not think about from the standpoint of how medicine is practiced is a lot of medicine is practiced as an algorithm. So in other words, if this happens Then you do this– 

 

Nathan Crane

Did you say as an algorithm, it cut out there? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Oh yeah, as an algorithm. 

 

Nathan Crane

Gotcha, just very kind of linear scientific like left brain a– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah, it’s very much a sort of an if then statement. So, if this happens then you run this test, and based on those results, then you do this, and then you do this and you work your way down the treatment algorithm. So, the issue comes up is what happens when you run out of room and you’re at the end of the algorithm and your patient’s not better. And that was kind of what I found myself truly bumping up against with my patients. As I was running out of things to do, and me sitting down with pet owners and telling them there’s nothing else that we can do, take them home and call us when it’s time. I hated that having that conversation, I still hate having that conversation. And that really led me to start to think back to some of those experiences I had had years before. And it started me down the road to really explore avenues of treatment that were outside of the sort of outside of the lane of what I was taught in veterinary school. 

And because of that, I ended up getting trained in acupuncture, and in chiropractic, and learned a lot about herbal therapy, and really started to integrate all of that stuff too into my practice. And what I found was, is that when I was using both Western medicine and alternative therapies, I was getting much results than I ever did with just medicine alone. And that really just sort of set me down the path of having kind of this personal mission, of always looking for what else is out there, to help my patients. And, you know I mean the criteria for me is, it has to be scientifically valid, and it has to be reasonably safe. 

And if I can meet those two criteria, then it’s absolutely something that I will look at for my patients. So over the years, we’ve kind of expanded our current regimen, from what we already talked about to hyperbaric oxygen, ozone therapy, pleading electromagnetic field therapy. We do a lot of work with cannabis, which has an enormous place in the cancer conversation. So it’s just kind of an ongoing and ever expanding circle of things that we can do to help our patients. You know what I mean, at the end of the day, the art in medicine is always gonna be figuring out, which one of those many things, or which ones of those many things, are best for any given individual. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, I love that you just said, the art of medicine, because there is both the science and the art, just like everything in life, right? I mean, there’s the science but the science always has holes. It has a lack of information, missing information, not enough information, there’s bias in science. So it’s like we need the science for the foundation to kind of support our decision-making. But at the end of the day, there’s an art form, right? There’s intuition, there’s reasoning. There’s, “Look, if this isn’t working even though the science says it should, don’t keep doing, what’s not working.” Right. And that’s part of the art form is figuring out what actually can help– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yes. 

 

Nathan Crane

So you said you started seeing better results as you were implementing more kind of holistic and alternatives, and complimentary medicines into your practice. What are maybe some interesting case studies you can share with us over the years that you saw incredible results– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah, sure– 

 

Nathan Crane

With integrative medicine? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. I mean, the thing I often tell people when I talk about sort of the benefits of holistic and alternative medicine is, Western medicine is really, really good at treating acute disease. You break your arm, you get an infection, you get hit by a bus, whatever it may be. Western medicine is really great at that kind of stuff. Where Western medicine has problems, is it has problems with long-term chronic care. It’s not very good at long-term pain control, or dealing with ongoing chronic gastrointestinal issues, or inflammatory problems. Because, usually with those kinds of conditions, there isn’t a target. Western medicine it’s like a sharpshooter, it needs a target. It’s real good at hitting the target, but it has to have a target. If the diagnosis is vague, chronic existence, Western medicine has a real hard time. And interestingly, that is exactly where natural medicine shines, is with long-term chronic care, and kind of non-specific things. 

And, and the reason why that is, is because a lot of natural medicine… While it certainly does have… It does often have pharmaceutical properties to it. The other thing that it does though is it supports patient’s body as a whole. So in other words, we’re making patient healthier in the more global sense. And a lot of times what happens is, is when you make them healthier, they will start to fix their own problems. So we don’t necessarily have to always have the answer to any given problem. If we can make the body healthy enough, the body will fix it itself. That’s the great thing about a biological system, is that a biological system always wants to be healthy. And if you give it half a chance, and you give it a little nudge in the right direction a lot of times it will do that. So this is a very long-winded way to get to answer the answer of your question, which is the kind of things that we often see the most dramatic results with, are long-term chronic issues. 

So patients with arthritis, or chronic joint pain, chronic back pain. Long-standing gastrointestinal problems, like bowel disease, these sorts of things. Seizure disorders can be very responsive to natural medicine. And for the topic of a cancer. Cancer is a disease that clearly Western medicine can, in many cases cannot completely cure. And I’m not necessarily making the claim that, that alternative medicine can either, but again, come back to the anything that we can do to make the patient’s body healthier a whole, is going to allow their immune system to manage their cancer better. So what we wind up seeing is, we wind up seeing patients that not only live longer than they would have with Western medicine alone, but we see them living better, than they would have with Western medicine alone. 

And certainly in veterinary medicine, quality of life is the whole thing. Nobody wants their pet to live in pain and misery, so we have to preserve quality of life, otherwise we don’t really have anything. And that’s really where holistic and natural and integrative medicine can come in handy, because not only is it really good at supporting their body and treating things that are wrong with them, but in many cases, in particularly in the sense of cancer care, it can also help mitigate some of the negative effects of the Western therapy. The radiation, the chemotherapy side effects, all that kind of stuff can often be mitigated, and made much most pleasant by the addition of alternative care. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, I think that’s where the natural therapies, holistic therapies really can shine, right. Is where you’re really addressing the terrain of the body, you’re addressing the entire body. And oftentimes you’re addressing the entire being, not just the body, but also the mind, the conditions of the environment. So that there’s greater happiness and more, peace and contentment, certainly more joy, which we know contributes to healing, both in people and in animals, right. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

So, I think that’s where holistic medicine can certainly really shine. And then as you said, conventional medicine has a lot of great tools to one diagnose, which is fantastic for diagnosing. But then to going in, and maybe, with some very fine, very focused approaches, right. But sometimes it’s so damaging at the same time, like chemotherapy radiation, that if you’re not taking care of the immune system, the lymphatic system, all the other parts. I mean, I’m talking about humans, but I’m guessing all the supplies too. It’s all the same, yeah. Yeah, I’m guessing it’s all the same, right. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

It is. 

 

Nathan Crane

If you’re not taking care of all the other parts, then, the chances of not only longevity of life, the quality of life decrease exponentially. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Absolutely, that is very true. 

 

Nathan Crane

Do you have a case study you can share with us, whether a dog, or a cat. Let’s start maybe with a dog that came to you that had cancer. Some form of cancer and through an integrative approach you were able to help that animal go into remission?

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Well, I mean, so yes, although remission is sometimes a tricky thing depending on the particular type of cancer. But I mean, one case that immediately comes to mind is a dog that came into my office a number of years ago, was a Bouvier, which is a kind of a large shaggy dog. And this dog, was kind of an older dog. I think he was nine or 10 at the time. And he was diagnosed with a soft tissue sarcoma on his lower right leg, on his hock, which is effective ankle in a person. And they had taken the dog to their regular veterinarian who had done a very good job in biopsying it and diagnosing it. And based on where this mass was, it wasn’t something that was going to be really such removable, because it was right on top of the joint. So the veterinarian’s recommendation, and I don’t fault them for this because from a Western perspective, this is the appropriate recommendation. Their recommendation was amputation. And needless to say, the owner wasn’t thrilled with that plan. 

And she came to me about it, and I had a look at it and what we wound up doing was, we put the dog on a pretty broad spectrum of herbal medication. So, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer herbs, immune supportive herbs. We have gone medical cannabis. I changed the dog’s diet to a much less inflammatory type diet. A lot of dogs, and this is perhaps a whole nother conversation, but there’s a real issue with commercial dog food. It is incredibly pro-inflammatory, it’s a disaster, but again, that’s a conversation for another day. But nonetheless, so from the time this dog immediately, initially presented to the time that he ultimately passed away, was over four years. And to be clear, the dog didn’t die from the cancer. 

So we didn’t make that tumor go away, but it never really got any bigger, and it never really did anything. And it never bothered the dog. So, he didn’t mind that it was there. So, I mean, I think that’s a real good example of a dog that a, would have lost his leg, and b, if that had happened, that absolutely would have the dog’s life because a dog of that size moving on three legs will work for a while. But at some point, orthopedically speaking they’re going to fall apart, because they just it’s just too hard for them to do it. So, for both of those reasons, I mean, I think we bought this dog an enormous amount of quality and quantity of life and I mean the owner clearly, couldn’t have been happier with it. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah that’s wonderful to hear. And in dog years, that would have been what? More than 20 years at his age, maybe.

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

There you go, yeah, right. I mean, it’s a long time. It’s a really long time– 

 

Nathan Crane

That’s a long time for a dog, yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

Well, and I love that you brought up, I mean it’s the same thing that we find in working with people with cancer, is that, you may have a tumor, and the first thought is, I need to get this out of me as quickly as possible. But often, especially when you talk to some of the best integrative medical doctors on the planet, they say, “Look, that’s not necessarily… that should not necessarily be your first concern.” It’s not, the tumor can actually be saving your life, or prolonging your life, right. I mean, that’s one of the purposes of the tumor. The body is actually protecting you, by producing tumor– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

Encapsulating all of these cancer cells, helping preventing it from spreading and so forth. And most cancers actually do not have symptoms at all, right. And so you can go in and start destroying it, and messing with it, and then spread it, and then cause a whole host of other issues. Like you said, it wasn’t bothering the dog, cosmetically in humans. Sometimes we say, “Yeah, I don’t want that tumor there.” Cosmetically, I don’t want it there, but often, if it doesn’t grow any further, it’s not spreading and it’s causing you any physical, actual problems, there is no reason in some cases to go and like you said, and amputate the leg, or try to get rid of the tumor. Because you can actually improve quality of life, by not doing things, sometimes then trying to rush and do something. So, the story you just shared is very similar again, to what a lot of people deal with–

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Right. 

 

Nathan Crane

In decisions that we have to make and say, “Look, if it’s not only about longevity of life, but quality of life.” I think those, the quality always has to come first. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Sure. And you know one of the two of the greatest things about being in veterinary medicine, and treating animals in general, is number one, animals have no sense of the aesthetic. So the fact that there was a tumor on this dog’s leg, it wasn’t weighing heavily upon the dog. he wasn’t worried about what he looked like, or what everybody else was going to say, or anything to that effect. And the second thing, which is clearly the greatest lesson that we can all learn from animals is, they’re very, very good at living in the moment. Animals don’t… They do not formulate the thought process that goes, “Why me?” “How could this have happened to me?” They get up in the morning and they take stock of what they have to work with. And they go about their day. And that is, it’s such a beautiful thing and such a lesson that we can all learn from them. 

And particularly, when there’s something seriously wrong. I often have to remind people is that what your dog, or your cat, they don’t know that they have cancer, they don’t know that they have kidney disease. And as such, they’re just gonna live their life as long as we can keep them feeling good. And it’s really important for people to remember that, because animals sort of cue off their owner. If the owner is sitting there staring at the dog saying, “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God.” Then the dogs are going to get stressed out, although they don’t really know why. So, again, we all just sort of need in those instances, just learn how to live in the moment, and enjoy what we have when we have it. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, such a beautiful lesson. So in terms of… For dogs and cats specifically let’s say– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah.

 

Nathan Crane

What have you found to really be the leading causes of cancer? And we don’t have to get into all of them, but where are some of the leading causes that we as pet owners, pet parents, as we say, need to know about and really avoid contributing more of those causes to our pets. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Sure, I mean… And truthfully, this sort of this question is no different than if asked this question to a physician, but ultimately, I mean like many complex diseases, it’s gonna be a multi-factorial thing, that’s gonna revolve around genetics, and exposure to environmental toxins, and nutrition. I mean, those are pretty much the three things, one way or the other that are gonna either help you not get cancer, or cause you to get cancer. Obviously, there’s nothing we can do on the genetic sense, at least not yet, until they kind of spit out the whole gene therapy thing. Genetics are what they are, from that standpoint. However, there are things that we can do. I mean, iron metal toxin-wise, that’s kind of middle of the road as far as what you can do. We all certain extent kind of live in a toxic soup, and we just have to live with that. 

You’re walking down the street, you’re breathing in cars exhaust. It is what it is, there’s not much you can do about it, but, I mean, for example, if somebody is a smoker, that absolutely presents a danger to the pet. If we have somebody works in a place where I say there’s fumes, or they work in maybe like an auto shop, or maybe there’s toxic stuff on the ground and whatnot, shop dog. I mean, those dogs are getting exposed to things and remember, dogs or cats, they’ll walk over stuff, they’ll walk through things that are potentially problematic. Then later in the day, as part of their natural grooming, they’re gonna lick their feet. So they’re ingesting that stuff, whatever it may be. 

Same thing with like cleaning products. If you’re using like bleach and ammonia, and all kind of chemical cleaning products, your dog, or your cats are getting exposed to that kind of stuff. ‘Cause again, they’re laying on the floor, or they’re grooming themselves after they’ve been laying on the floor. So, some environmental things you can control for and some you can’t. And then I think, you don’t wanna tear your hair out over the thing, but, I mean, I think you do the best that you can to keep both yourself and your pets living as reasonably clean, as you can. The single biggest thing that have 100% control over, is what they eat. And it is very, very well known, that certain foods, certain chemical compounds found in foods, certain ingredients are going to be more pro-inflammatory, and certain compounds are gonna be anti-inflammatory. 

And one of the things that we know, and you are very well aware about cancer, is ultimately cancer is about inflammation. I mean, most cancers, have a component of information, to them and it could be argued that new or most cancers originate from chronic inflammation. I don’t think that, that’s a particularly revolutionary statement to make, but it is something that people need to think about. And so the thing about food, the way I kind of described feeding pets or people, bad food, it’s kind of like people who smoke cigarettes. Intuitively speaking, they know that over the long-term smoking cigarettes is probably going to kill them, but that doesn’t actually stop them from smoking that cigarette right now. And to kind of translate that to food. 

We all know that the more fresh whole food we eat, the better off we are, but it doesn’t necessarily stop us from eating that crappy fast food meal right now, because people aren’t very good at sort of thinking in the longterm in that way. But here’s the thing about pets, is commercially prepared pet food like kibble and canned food, is basically like feeding a person, highly processed food, every day, twice a day for their entire life. I don’t think you have to have a PhD in nutrition to know that that’s probably a bad idea, for somebody to be eating fast food twice a day forever. We all know that to be true. We just think about pet food in that way, because the pet food companies are very good at packing things and advertising things in such a way that they make you think that it’s incredibly healthy, but it’s not. 

The research is very clear that dry food and canned food contains chemical compounds that are known to cause inflammation and cancer, that these foods don’t have all of the micronutrients in in them that they did before they went through that processing. And also when we look at dry foods, dry foods contain an enormous amounts of carbohydrates, often 60, or even up to 60% carbohydrates. Carbohydrates in excess are pro-inflammatory. All of this stuff ultimately gets you further down the road, to a cancer diagnosis. So, like I say, I mean, it’s not necessarily the conversation everybody wants to have, or they want to reach for, but in the grand scheme of like, “How do I prevent my pet from getting cancer?” It’s the one thing that you have complete control over. 

 

Nathan Crane

It’s huge. And the fact that you just made that correlation between, just our regular dry pet food, cats and dogs, right. The kibble or whatever it is, even the so-called healthy kind. It’s like feeding them, fast food twice a day, anybody who’s ever seen… What was that documentary years ago? The guy who ate McDonald’s every day and this thing?

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Fast Food Nation I think. Was it Fast Food Nation? 

 

Nathan Crane

Fast Food Nation, or something. Yeah, basically it just say McDonald’s everyday– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

I think it was also Super Size Me. 

 

Nathan Crane

Super Size Me, yeah, that was the one. I remember watching that like a good, I don’t know, 12, 15 years ago maybe. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

That goes back a bit, yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

And just watching somebody eating fast food every day within 30 days, they’re like almost dead. You can just imagine why dogs and cats… I mean, the cancer rates are astronomical. The auto-immune disease rates are astronomical. The liver disease rates are astronomical. I mean, all these diseases that really same with humans, dogs and cats should almost never have if they were eating, a normal, healthy diet, right, for the most part. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

No, that’s very true. And I mean, what you just brought up reminded me of one other thing that probably I should bring up in the hope of, if we had to categorize it, somewhere we’ll categorize it as an environmental toxin, but, dogs and cats are chronically overmedicated.

 

Nathan Crane

Hmm. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

They’re over vaccinated and they’re overmedicated. I mean, a lot of pets are getting sedated, every year, for their entire life, oftentimes for diseases that they will never come in contact with. We all know that vaccines are not completely benign substances. They cause inflammation by design, that’s how they work. And to be clear, I am very pro-vaccine, I’m pro appropriate vaccination. I’m just anti over vaccination. So, I mean I’m not telling people not to vaccinate their pets, that would be terrible advice. But, once your pet is appropriately vaccinated then you can disagree . Oh, I lost you there for a minute. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, it says your internet keeps going in and out. It’s been cutting out a little bit here and there. It’s been mostly okay, but they’re just lost you for a good 30 seconds. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

All right, I’m making an adjustment. Hopefully this’ll work. Where did you lose me? 

 

Nathan Crane

You said, “I’m not anti-vaccine, I’m pro-vaccine, but pro appropriate vaccine.” 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Gotcha. 

 

Nathan Crane

And then you just cut out. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Okay, yeah so I mean, pro or appropriate vaccines so once your–

 

Nathan Crane

Let me pause for a second. Let me make an edit note here for our team. Let’s see, edit 30 minutes in when the screen cuts out. Oh yeah, if it gets much worse we might have to revisit so far. It’s been, I mean, it kind of like cuts here and there. I can still hear everything you’re saying, but that was the time– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Okay. 

 

Nathan Crane

It really cut out. So if it happens, I’ll stop you and let you know. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

All right, it sounds good. All right. So, I mean, from a vaccination standpoint, you want to vaccinate your pets for the diseases that they might get exposed to, that could be harmful, or lethal, but once they’re properly vaccinated, you just wanna have, take a real good, hard look at, what do they need to be vaccinated for in the future now? I mean vaccines, we all know that vaccines are not completely benign sauces. Vaccines by design cause inflammation, it’s how they work. So, whether it’s vaccines, or it’s like pet staying heartworm preventative and flea and tick medication every month entire life now, admittedly, depending on where you live, something like heartworm medication may be necessary. But for example, here where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s not always necessary, and it’s not required to these pets on. So it just depends… Again, medicine needs individualized, and that depends on your pet. 

And that depends on where you live, and what they’re gonna get exposed to, and all that sort of stuff. There is no such thing as like cookie cutter medicine. And one of the things that makes me a little crazy are like these vaccine clinics that pop up, basically the way these places are making their money is they’re given vaccines. So, it will come as no surprise to anybody that they’re gonna recommend vaccinating. And it’s just, in so many cases it’s not necessary. And you wind up seeing, there is an incidence of vaccine associated tumors and cats, auto-immune disease has been linked somewhat to vaccination. So again, just in the sense of trying to limit exposure to things that you have control over. And certainly food and medicine are things you really have control over.

 

Nathan Crane

So I was speaking in terms of food, what does a good diet look like for a dog and for a cat? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

So, in its most basic sense, everybody whether it’s us, or a dog, or a cat, or whomever, all of our bodies are designed to optimally thrive on a nutrient profile that our species evolved eating. So, in term of nutrients that’s ideal for us as a human, is clearly not going to be the same for a dog, or for a cat. And a dog and a cat’s nutrient profiles are very different. Cats are very much obligate, carnivores. They’re gonna survive largely on protein and fat, whereas a dog. And I just wanna make the distinction, that evolutionarily speaking, a dog is not a Wolf. And they do not have the same nutritional requirements. Dogs have a much broader ability to utilize carbohydrates in their diet than say a Wolf would, that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be eating kibble that has 70% carbohydrates, but can they have a little carbs in their diet and be okay? Yeah, absolutely they can. 

But at the end of the day, when we’re looking at an evolutionarily appropriate diet, the one thing that you can always say is, fresh whole food diets are what it needs to be. Nobody evolved eating food out of a bag or a can. We all evolve to eat fresh foods. So that means, whether it’s fresh meat, fresh vegetables, fresh whole grains, whatever it may be. And it’s just a question of creating that in a nutrient profile that’s for that species, as well as that individual animals. So you can go out and buy commercially made fresh whole food diets for pets, be they frozen cooked food, frozen raw food, dried, raw food. All of those are great. There’s a lot of really great companies these days, that produce that kind of food. 

And also, if people are so inclined to do so, you absolutely can make food at home for your pet as well. That way you have complete control as far as what goes in it. The only caveat as far as making food at home is that you have to work off of a properly balanced recipe. You can’t just throw a bunch of meat and vegetables in a bowl and call it good. It’s just a recipe for a nutrient deficiency, but if you’re working off of a recipe, it’s a great way to feed your dog or your cat, an optimal diet. And again, when all is said and done, good nutrition is absolutely the single best piece of preventative medicine that exists 

 

Nathan Crane

And dogs in general, I mean, they’re also carnivore, right? I mean, generally speaking. And so they really need a higher protein, higher fat diet. And ideally from what I understand is from raw meat as well, is that true? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Well, one can make the argument whether or not dogs are truly carnivores, or they’re a very much carnivorous leaning omnivore. That’s one of those discussions that veterinarians get into over drinks. But, that not withstanding, they do definitely do like their animal protein, for sure. It does not by definition have to be raw. I’m a big fan of raw feeding, I think raw food is great. There are dogs that do better on lightly cooked food versus raw food. And I mean, it’s fine. Again, it’s very individualized. But dogs can do okay and do very well on foods that are almost completely meat-based, versus foods that are mostly meat, maybe and this is just ballpark, maybe like two thirds meat like one third, like vegetables and whole grains. They can do well either way, remember dogs evolved alongside humans. 

So, I mean that’s how wolves became dogs is over a period of about 30,000 years living with people, they evolved into dogs. And one of the things that was as they evolved, learning to eat the things that the people around them were eating, and thus throwing to them. So that led them to become more adapted to eat non-meat type things, you know? So, dogs have a bit more variability in what could be an optimal diet than say a cat. One could argue that cats, even today cats aren’t actually domesticated, but, I think often enough, they just tolerate us. But– 

 

Nathan Crane

I can definitely agree with that, right. They’re very free– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. You know what I mean? 

 

Nathan Crane

Souls, they’re like, “Nope, you’re my…” We’re their pets and some… some 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

It’s true. And you know what? If Armageddon it happened in every person on the planet disappeared, most cats would be fine.

 

Nathan Crane

Cats would be totally fine. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Most cats will be fine. I frequently remind my dogs that they would last about seven seconds in the wild. They are — 

 

Nathan Crane

I think– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Incapable of anything. 

 

Nathan Crane

I think my dogs would do okay because I’ve never stopped them from their nature of hunting. And so, when we go out running in the mountains they often catch something, they’ll catch a rabbit and they’ll eat the whole rabbit, or they’ll catch… They don’t catch birds, but they try to catch birds. They realize they can’t catch birds, but rabbits, mice things like that, dead stuff that they find that’s been rotting for two, three, four weeks. And a lot of people stopped their animals. I never stopped them because I knew that was their nature. I don’t know if they’d survive, but one thing that comes to mind is, if you don’t stop their nature, you can see what their natural food source is. And that’s, they’re not out there eating plants wildly. Maybe they might sit at some point, right. But, they’re looking for dead carcasses. They’re looking for animals. They can hunt and kill and eat all of the animal. I mean, they’d everything right? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

They do. 

 

Nathan Crane

My do my dogs catch a rabbit, they eat everything, the far, the stomach, and they love it. So I’m like, “Okay, this must be good for them.” 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

They do, and I mean, I think… And this is a good topic for this conversation that another thing that we know that has enormous control over our health, and our inflammation levels, is our gut health–

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Is our microbiome. And I mean, when dog like your dogs are out there, eating all kinds of gross stuff off the forest floor and all that kind of stuff, they’re feeding their biome. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Is what they’re doing. And normally, we’re gonna put their sterilized food in a bowl, and it may very well be that, that’s not the greatest in the world from the standpoint of their immune support. We know full well that small stressors on the body actually make us stronger. So, when they eat stuff that causes some issues in their system, oftentimes the immune system comes out stronger on the other side. I mean, it’s kind of like us exercising. Every time you exercise, you’re actually damaging your muscles– 

 

Nathan Crane

Yup. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

But in the long-term, it makes you stronger. So that kind of hormetic stress is really, really good for them and for us. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

And I think you shouldn’t necessarily be eating dead rabbits off the forest floor.

 

Nathan Crane

Well, our body 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Go do that on my account. 

 

Nathan Crane

Our bodies are totally different than a dog’s body. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

It’s true. 

 

Nathan Crane

Our intestines, our saliva, our bacteria, our enzymes, everything is different. Right? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

It’s true. 

 

Nathan Crane

So, you can’t really say we should be eating exactly what dogs are eating, anyway. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

No, I mean, your average dog on the street would probably eat things that would put me in the hospital. 

 

Nathan Crane

Right, exactly. So moving on a little bit in terms of obviously, diet is huge cleaning up the toxins around the home, toxins… I mean, you brought a good point, our pets are closer to the ground than we are. So, if you have carpets that are releasing toxic VOCs, right. They’re breathing that in.

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

If you’re spraying floors with chemicals, they’re instantly breathing it in on their paws. They’re even licking it into their bodies, clothing with all these perfumes and things that… Their blankets, all kinds of things. So getting all the toxins, this true for ourselves, it’s not only good for us but good for our pets. Getting all the toxins, cleaning up the food, much more fresh food, higher protein, more raw, if possible, right. But in addition to that, what are some of the more kind of interesting you mentioned cannabis a little bit. Interesting and effective integrative treatments, that you’ve seen great success with when working with animals. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

That’s a great question. And there’s a lot of stuff out there. And I often tell people that I mean, it’s not all that uncommon that somebody comes into my office, because their pet has cancer, and they have already sat down and Googled something like natural therapies for cancer. And you get like 200 million things that come up. And you know what I mean, the reality is is even if you could strip away all of this sort of just internet garbage and those 200 million results, you would still come up with a very, very long list of natural compounds that have proven anti-cancer properties with them. And the reality is that, you can’t give all of them, you can’t even in many cases give most of them. And I mean, the thing is, is like, if you were I as a person, if you made the decision, “I’m gonna take 40 supplements a day.” You can do that. That is generally speaking, a non-starter with a dog, or a cat. So we really have to figure out strategies to find ways that we can get the most compounds, and the most effective compounds, into these animals. 

So, oftentimes the place that I will start is I will start with a really robust, well constructed combination supplement. And the reason why I do that is because, if we can give them a really good combination supplement that has say like, 30 or 40 different ingredients in it, then what’s happening is, all of a sudden you really can give those 30 or 40 supplements in a day. But as a practical matter, you’re only giving one. So for example, one of the supplements that I use a lot, I’ll just some of the particular ingredients because I think they’re great anti-cancer immune supportive ingredients. Transfer factor. There is a very long list of medicinal mushrooms. We could talk for days about the anticancer and immune supportive benefits of mushrooms. In fact, I have an entire hour long lecture that I give to veterinarians about anti-cancer effects of mushrooms. And there’s some really interesting studies out there. 

One of them even veterinary specific, to show significant anti-cancer effects of mushrooms. So transfer factor mushrooms, anti-inflammatory herbs like Boswellia, curcumin, antioxidants like superoxide dismutase, immune modulators like IP-6. These kinds of compounds, higher doses of Omega fatty acids, fish oil, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. Chinese herbal therapy has some very, very interesting and attractive anti-cancer properties. Although, which specific herbal combination is right, is very specific to the individual patient. So that, would require somebody who has some knowledge of Chinese medicine and Chinese medical diagnosis. And then, kind of getting back to the cannabis conversation, there’s a lot, a lot of evidence out there to show anti-cancer benefits of cannabis. And when I say cannabis, I’m talking about both CBD and THC, and various other cannabinoids. And that is absolutely something that can be used in veterinary patients as well. 

So to be clear, and I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding and misconceptions as it pertains to THC and animals. So animals absolutely are susceptible to the psychoactive effects of THC. And in fact, since we don’t have to get into, dogs are actually more susceptible, than any other animal. They just have more receptors in their brain, that said, just like in a person, you absolutely can give THC to a dog, or a cat, and have them not have psychoactive effects. It’s purely just a function of dose. If the average adult human ate five milligrams of THC, they would feel nothing. So the same thing as possible with animals as they just need to be dosed appropriately. 

And even though say for example, that dose of THC, is not having a psychoactive effect, by no means does that suggest that it’s not having any effect. It’s not having a toxic effect. So, I often talk to people about putting pets that have cancer on broad spectrum cannabis products that have both THC, and CBD, and other cannabinoids, and other terpenes in it. Those products just have to be dosed very, very carefully, and I would caution anybody not to do this kind of thing without some sort of veterinary guidance. You absolutely can put your dog, or your cat, on a CBD product, like a hemp-based CBD product. Those are incredibly safe, by all means, as long as you’re getting a good quality product, use it, but the second you cross that line into things that have THC in them, that’s when you need a little medical guidance to make sure that you don’t get into trouble. 

 

Nathan Crane

So, in terms of your favorite combination supplement, obviously, I don’t want people to misunderstand this, even a supplement it’s got 40 really good ingredients in it. It’s not a cure, all right. It’s not, “Okay, take this supplement and then don’t worry about anything else.” You still need to do everything else as well, right. I mean the animals– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Absolutely, yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

They need exercise, they need love, they need clean environment, they need good food. The supplement is that’s what’s meant, to supplement. Right, it’s — 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

That’s exactly right. And again, just to stress, this is not a conversation about do this instead of Western medicine. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

I mean, if it’s possible to remove a tumor surgically, then that’s probably a good thing to do in most cases, get it out of there. If your pet has a condition that chemotherapy or radiation would carry with it, a good prognosis, that is absolutely something that you need to consider doing. I have found over years that the pets that do the best are the ones that are getting both Western and alternative medicine. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes treat pets where people say, “I don’t want any of that. I just want to go the natural route.” And we can certainly do that. But again, if you’re looking for sort of the longest runway, if you will, then, you take advantage of all of the benefits that both Western and alternative medicine have to offer, and kind of put them all together. 

 

Nathan Crane

Beautiful, and so what is… The supplement you’re talking about, is this something that people can just buy? What’s it called? Where can they get it?

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Well, there’s a couple of them that I would look at. There’s one supplement that I make, it’s called Nutra Thrive and they can get that @ultimatepetnutrition.com. There’s a dog and a cat one. And there is also a product out there. And I don’t have the website right in front of me, but they are called Veterinary Immune Tabs. It’s made by a company– 

 

Nathan Crane

Veterinary Immune Tabs, is that what you said? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Tabs, and the company that makes them is called Ramaekers Pet Nutrition. They do have a website, although I don’t have it right in front of me, but I’m sure you can find it and post it. That is also a very, very good combination supplement for pets, with cancer, immune disease, that sort of thing. So, those are the kinds of things that I frequently look to, as what I would describe as like a foundational supplement and then build from there. Whether it’s fish oil, Chinese herbs, cannabis, Western herbs, whatever it may be. 

You start with that one base thing. And usually what I do, especially if we’re going to talk about cats. It’s always questionable how much you’re gonna be able to get in it. And I’m also, I’ll start with the one based supplement. And once we get that sorted out, and they’re taking that, then I’ll add in one more thing, and add in one more thing, and add in one more thing, just one thing at a time. If I send somebody home, and say, “Give these five supplements,” more often than not I’m gonna get a call that the dog or the cat won’t eat them. So, it’s always a question of very, very slow and gradual introductions, of these sorts of things to pets because, clearly they don’t intuitively know that it’s good for them. I mean, when I take my supplements, I know that they’re good for me, and I choked those pills down even though I don’t really want to. But, you can’t your dog to do that. So we have to find a way to make it, so, they’re willing to participate. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, that’s a good point. And there’s lots of ways to do that, right. When I use a hydrated, green food mix, berries, and fruits, and greens, and stuff, it’s dehydrated. So, I do that with some raw meat, and then I’ll put their powder supplements in it and mix it all together. They don’t even know the supplements are there. Right?

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Sure. 

 

Nathan Crane

All they taste is the meat and the– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Right. 

 

Nathan Crane

‘Cause it’s water and it’s mixed together. It’s almost like a soup, right? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Right, right, right. 

 

Nathan Crane

So different ways that you have any other tips for cats, or dogs, and helping them get their supplements down? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah, you know what I mean, cats are invariably going to be trickier than dogs– 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

But I mean, I think… Well, when it comes to dogs, I mean, sometimes you can you can bamboozle a dog, they’re just easier. So, if there’s something really like you can mix it in, you can mix it in withthat. If it happens to be like a pill, or something, I often find that a little water of cream cheese works really well, works better than peanut butter, because peanut butter tends to stick, while cream cheese just kind of slides down. So that can be beneficial. I saw a video the other day of a veterinarian using raspberries, you know how there’s like that whole raspberries or hot, he was putting pills in raspberries and feed them to the dog. 

 

Nathan Crane

There you go. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Which I thought was a great idea. 

 

Nathan Crane

Right– 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

If your dog happens to like raspberries, I thought that was super clever. Now when it comes to cats, it’s clearly a much trickier thing. And I think the trick with cats, is anything that you’re gonna introduce you have to be really, really gradually. So for example, if you’re gonna put like a powdered supplement in their food, start by adding just the tiniest little pinch and mixing it in, and then each day add a tiny little bit more, because the thing about cats is, cats are like OCD people. They don’t like anything to change. Everything has to be the same all the time, otherwise things are bad. So, if you do it super gradually, less of a shock and less upsetting to them. And the reality is, and this is especially true when it comes to supplements, not always true with pharmaceuticals, but with supplements like for example, with that cat, if you can work that cat up to say like half the dose of supplement, and add any more than that, they’re like, “No, thanks, I’m not gonna eat.” And you know what? Feed them half the dose, it’s still gonna be painful. Like I said, that doesn’t always work with pharmaceutical. Sometimes you have to give the whole dose, but with supplements, you can get away with less than the “full dose,” and still get benefit out of it.

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, that’s good point. Speaking of cats don’t like things to change this morning it was… Usually I wake up at like 6:30 in the morning, just automatic, go use the restroom, whatever and go back to sleep until about 7:00. It’s just a habit, right. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

And that’s your thing. 

 

Nathan Crane

And usually my cats, she’s ready to go outside by then. So she’s meowing and we let her outside in the morning. Usually I do, or my wife does if she gets up. And this morning, I remember looking out, and just seeing the cat sitting there right at the stairs, just the shadow staring at me. Her name is Chloe. She’s just sitting there staring at me like, “Okay, I’m ready, to let me outside.” And I wasn’t ready to get up yet, I went back to sleep, and it just reminded me of what you said. She’s so used to, like, “This is what we do–” 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. “I’m ready, don’t change it on me.” And then she was– 

And they’re just gonna sit there and stare daggers at you until you do it. 

 

Nathan Crane

Their daggers and meow daggers. I mean, she’s pretty intimidating meow when she wants to, so anyway. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah. 

 

Nathan Crane

Yeah, well, thank you. I mean, I appreciate your time, all your good wisdom tips, information. Obviously, we could have many, many conversations. There’s a lot more that we could cover. I know you got a lot of great resources on your website. Can people consult with you one-on-one as well? Do you do Zoom, or Skype or anything like that, or they need to come into your clinic if they can? 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

Yeah, unfortunately the way the veterinary medicine laws are written, I can’t really give medical advice for a patient that I haven’t physically examined. 

 

Nathan Crane

Hmm. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

So generally, and we do need to see them at least once, after which at least for a year, I can do like telemedicine related stuff. 

 

Nathan Crane

Cool. So, yeah, holisticvetcare.com, also ultimatepetnutrition.com. Again, Gary, thank you so much for your time, and sharing all this great information resources, I really appreciate it. 

 

Gary Richter, MS, DVM

You’re very welcome, it’s been my pleasure. 

 

Nathan Crane

And I want to thank everyone for tuning into the Conquering Cancer Summit. Please share this with friends and family, together, we truly can make a difference for the future of humanity, in ending the cancer pandemic. Thank you, and I wish you ultimate health and happiness, be well.

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