Good Causes
Rodney Habib and Sammie.
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Fighting Canine Cancer with Rodney Habib, Planet Paws and KetoPet Sanctuary

Find out how Rodney Habib, Planet Paws, KetoPet Sanctuary and other people and organizations are fighting canine cancer.

Nancy Hassel  |  Feb 7th 2018


If you are fortunate enough to be a dog parent who has not had a dog affected by canine cancer, you are very lucky. These days, it seems to be an epidemic; our dog are being afflicted by all kinds of cancers. If our dog is diagnosed with this awful disease we immediately ask: “Why?” “How did my dog get this?” And of course, “My dog has cancer, now what do I do?”

But, there is hope even with so many types of cancers: Some are less aggressive, treatable, slower to spread and, in some dogs, the cancer does not come back — like with my two-time cancer survivor Doberman, Shanna. So if your dog does get the dreaded cancer diagnosis, remember that there are tremendous people and organizations working together to try to slow and, in some cases, stop the growth of cancer in our dogs.

Rodney, Sammie & Planet Paws

Cali survived an aggressive form of cancer thanks to KetoPet.

Cali survived an aggressive form of cancer thanks to KetoPet (more on that below!).

If you have yet to hear of Rodney Habib of Planet Paws, stop what you are doing right now (after you read this article, of course), and go to his Facebook page and start following him. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rodney last year about how his dog, Sammie, who, when diagnosed with cancer, literally changed the trajectory of Rodney’s life.

When speaking with Rodney about the work he is doing with Planet Paws, I asked him about Sammie and her diagnosis. “Sammie’s (diagnosis) was the tipping point in the change of my life,” he says. “My career changed, and I decided to dedicate my life to this, and I refused to let Sammie suffer in vain and was determined to find a way to help her. I really want to be able to validate her remaining days with relentless work and inspiration [in figuring out how to prevent our dogs from getting so much cancer].”

Rodney has traveled the world, meeting with veterinarians, scientists and organizations all researching the cancer epidemic in our pets. The work they’re doing is outstanding, interesting and groundbreaking, to say the least. In Rodney’s travels, because he is a self-proclaimed ‘storyteller’ (he’s a filmmaker), he has turned his findings, interviews and research into a documentary that every pet parent needs to see. The Dog Cancer Series debuts in April 2018. However, you can see some information about it on his YouTube channel, Facebook page and website planetpaws.ca right now.

KetoPet Sanctuary

While doing his research, Rodney came across the KetoPet Sanctuary, which was founded under the Epigenix Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The sanctuary was established in Texas in 2014. According to its website, ketopetsanctuary.com, “the sanctuary was started by a group of people with an insatiable passion for helping animals and gave a ‘forever home’ to shelter dogs with cancer, saving them from being euthanized.”

Based on a ketogenic diet, KetoPet treats pets with cancer with a specific keto diet — a high fat, adequate protein, low carbohydrate diet as a form of cancer treatment. Unlike other diets, however, the ketogenic diet can be assessed by examining blood glucose and ketone levels. By definition, a ketogenic diet is any diet that produces ketones, so blood tests were used to determine the diet’s efficacy.

One of the dogs Ketopet took in was a dog name Cali, who happened to be pregnant. What was thought to be a litter of puppies in her belly was actually only one puppy and a large hemangiosarcoma tumor. Cali was given 6 weeks to live. Ketopet took her in, hoping to at least have her live long enough to nurse her puppy. Cali is not just a survivor of one of the most aggressive canine cancers but thriving at print time of this article. You can see Cali’s amazing story on Rodney’s Youtube channel The Dog Cancer Series.

Read more on special diets for dogs with cancer here >>

#pawsforthiscause So what can you do?

  1. Support cancer-specific organizations, such as the Animal Canine Cancer Foundation and the National Canine Cancer Foundation.
  2. Stay up-to-date on the latest cancer and dogs information by following people such as Rodney Habib, Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Marty Goldstein.
  3. Be proactive to be furractive. Educate yourself on preventive methods that you can use for your dog.
  4. Work with your veterinarian, and take your dog in for regular checkups and screenings.

Tell us: Have your dogs ever had cancer? What did you do?

Thumbnail: Rodney Habib with his dog, Sammie. Photography courtesy Rodney Habib.

Nancy Hassel is the pet parent of Pit Bull Cody and the president of American Pet Professionals, an award-winning business networking and educational organization for the pet industry since 2009. Nancy travels the country as a speaker, media and public relations specialist, working with pet companies in many aspects including event planning and training for pet professionals. Find her on Instagram and Twitter at @AmericanPetPros.

Editor’s note: This article appeared in Dogster magazine. Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? Subscribe now to get Dogster magazine delivered straight to you!

Read more about fighting canine cancer on Dogster.com: