A nine year old Black Labrador Retriever with cancer.
Jack is an impressive canine athlete, having competed for more than five years in dock diving, specifically excelling at vertical jumping. He is a goofy, bouncy, ball-obsessed Lab puppy one moment and the most adoring, snuggle-able love the next. Everyone loves Jack.
Jack’s diet through the years has consisted of Innova (12 weeks through 4 years old), then switched to Blue Wilderness for two years and then Origen for one year. He has solely eaten Answers Pet Food since July 2015. For supplements, he had consistently been on GlycoFlex joint supplement from 2015-2018. Additionally, Jack had regular vaccines, was on Heartgard and Frontline, and beginning in June 2017, he was moved to PetzLife for flea/tick.
Within 2-3 weeks of beginning to feed Jack a raw diet at age 6, he lost his extra pounds (he was 65 lbs and should have been 58), had a glossier coat that did not shed as much, seemed to be using (rather than excreting) the majority of his meals, and had an increase in energy. His dock performance also improved. By age 8, his visible aging was much less noticeable than other dogs in his age range. His energy has sustained over the last few years.
On January 1, 2018, Jack’s owners noticed a growth in the back of his mouth in the inner cheek. It was small and pink at the time, but they knew it had to be checked immediately. He was first seen on 1/5/18, by their primary veterinarian. A biopsy taken on 1/22/18 revealed that the mass was an amelanotic melanoma and indicated invasion of lymph nodes. This is a very aggressive cancer.
For immediate treatment, Jack underwent surgery to remove the tumor and any adjacent damaged cells. His lymph nodes were biopsied (found to be negative). A melanoma vaccine series was administered beginning in February 2018 and he was prescribed holistic/herbal medicines beginning 1/31/18. He began a ketogenic diet with Answers Pet Food on 2/6/18.
2/23/18: Treatment #2 of 4 for the melanoma vaccine was done at SouthPaws.
2/25/18 Update from owner: Jack is recovering well from his surgery. He got his stiches out last Monday and received positive reports from docs at Center for Veterinary Dentistry. Jack’s weight had dropped slightly in the weeks prior to beginning his keto diet, with low of 56.8 and is now back up to 58.5 as of 2/19/18. Energy is good. No adverse reactions to fats or ratios.
3/9/18 Update from owner: Jack is still as happy and bouncy and playful and beautiful as he was when he was 2. He received round #3 of 4 of the melanoma vaccine series at SouthPaws.
3/23/18 Update from owner: Jack finished #4 of 4 initial melanoma vaccines at SouthPaws. The Lung x-rays showed no signs of metastasis and no evidence of disease was found. While the veterinary office was not pleased with the choice of diet and supplements, the owners have chosen to stay the course.
03/30/19 Update from owner: Jack continues to be happy and energetic, his stamina is still impressive. Jack’s weight is 59 today. A couple weeks ago, we reviewed the protocols on Answers product guide and compared it with what we were feeding and what he was eating prior to keto. We realized his calories were way higher than what he had been eating before, so dropped down to 900 cals per day. He still looks “fluffier” than usual but is only 1 pound more than his prior “normal” weight and his muscle tone is good. He looks healthy.
Testing for glucose/ketones has remained in the mid-sixties and .2-.3 ranges until this morning, when it was 72/.1. Last weekend we fed several hours later than usual and tested right before and got a 62/.4.
Jack’s previously modest poops have gotten even smaller. However, he seems to try to go more frequently, sometimes with very little or no result. Some are totally dry, others a little more viscous, and there is some scooting at times as well.
Jack’s nose has been runny with more sneezes during the day than he used to. It has not been uncommon for him to sneeze after teeth brushing or rolling around in the dirt or on the bed, but just seems a tad more frequent.
04/26/18: Jack met with a new oncologist who strongly recommended that Jack go on either one or two chemo drugs: Cytoxin and/or Palladia. Jack’s owners researched and consulted with Dr. Mallu and chose to not utilize either.
4/30/18 Update from owner: Jack looks amazing, he has great stamina for exercise, he eats happily, and he has had a couple of dock diving appearances where he has looked like a champ! We are now in week 3 (day 17) of the 3:1 ratio for the keto diet. Jack’s weight is holding around 58 pounds, so it looks like we’ve found the right calorie target for his weight.
Readings have been normal, except glucose of 34 on 4/14, but ketone level of .4, and since then glucose in the 70s with ketones of .4.
Still occasional runny nose and sneezing…clear fluid, both nostrils. Still occasional scooting and more frequent (small) poops, but none have been that unusual for him. Anal glands have been excreted.
Recently, Jack has been eating tissues out of the box. This is new. He started eating used tissues last year, a few months prior to his diagnosis, but never attacked the box and contents. This has picked up dramatically within the last week. Ingested at least 6 tissues today. (Jack was advised to add fermented green beans to diet; it has helped but on rare occasions, he will still eat a tissue).
6/1/18 Update from owner: Jack is doing well. He is still strong and playful and still at all of his old tricks as well as some new ones! Weight is a little lower at 55.6 but not too far off the old usual of 58. Latest numbers for glucose/ketones are 80/.2 and 83/.2. He is due to start 1:1 on 6/8. Jack is still occasionally scooting, some straining to go to the bathroom with little output, and small quantities of poop (which isn’t entirely abnormal since being on raw). Anal glands were emptied a few weeks ago but all this resumed very shortly after.
6/28/18 – Oncology recheck appointment. Chest X-rays were performed. Jack’s cancer is in remission. He appears quite healthy with no signs of disease at this time.
06/28/18 Update from owner: Jack seems to be burning off his food with all the dock diving. Current weight is 56.6. Increased his calories by 50/day (and eventually another 150/day). Glucose/ketones at last read were 74/.3 on 1:1 ratio.
09/05/18 Update from owner: Jack is doing fabulous and even got a new personal best “big air” jump last weekend of 20’9”! He seems by all accounts healthy. Jack will go for 6 month recheck and next round of vaccine with oncologist at the end of the month/early October.
9/26/18: Oncology recheck appointment. Received his 6 month melanoma vaccine booster and instructed to continue on with current diet and at-home care. “Jack looks great today”
11/29/18 Update from owner: Jack remains on the Answers ketogenic diet and is still doing very well and is looking forward to a 2-week beach vacation later this month in the warm Florida sunshine. We will be celebrating his 1 year survival since discovering the melanoma. Jack appears even more vibrant today than a few years ago. He continues to amaze and inspire us.