No one likes cancer, yet we hear the word almost everyday. The thing is cancer can be indiscriminate: striking humans and pets alike. It is also a leading cause of death in canines with almost 50% of dogs that live to be 10 years or older died of cancer.
As a dog owner myself, I can only imagine how heartbreaking it could be to be first notified by the vet that your furry kid has cancer, let alone the powerless and fearful feeling knowing that cancer can be so deadly and our dogs cannot speak up for when they are in pain.
The media and the Internet are full of advice on what diets should be fed for both pets and people with cancer and it can be confusing and/or contradicting. Here’s my 5 cents advice from all my research and digging around the Internet:
FEED THEM A LOTTTT OF GOOD FOOD
…that not only tastes and smells good but also is fresh, highly bioavailable, easily digested, and highly palatable. A cancer patient often lose their appetite, and weight, so the goal here is to get your dog to eat A LOT.
MAINTAIN A BALANCED DIET
You may come across this saying on the Internet “You are what you eat” where people preach about feeding dogs with cancer organic foods, home-cooked foods and the like. It is true, to some extent, that you should feed your dog a clean diet with no pesticides, antibiotics, and extra bacteria and whatnot. It is also a fact that some people believe in the miracle of home-cooked meals, claiming they control what they put in the food, and how they cook it, which may help, in one way or another, with the dog’s cancer. But before scientists figure out what the absolute anti-cancer diet is, nutritionists have taken the mission upon themselves. They investigated the nutritional adequacy of home-cooked diet recipes for dogs and none of the 27 diets recommended for dogs with cancer met the minimum nutrient requirements that are required for a commercial diet for healthy dogs.
You can feed your dog a combination of both commercial and home-cooked diets, but make sure to keep tabs on the essential nutrients needed for your dog, and make them tasty to encourage your pet to eat.
MORE FRUIT AND VEGGIES
A more plant-based diet can benefit cancer patients, dogs and humans alike. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and dark-green, leafy vegetables like spinach are healthy for any dog, but especially for cancer patients. According to the American Cancer Society, broccoli, in particular, is the source of many phytochemicals that are thought to stimulate the production of anticancer enzymes. Veggies such as carrots, leafy greens (kale), yams (remember no onions) are good for your pouch. Fruits such as blueberries, melon, mango, peach, dried cranberries (remember no grapes, no raisins) can also make great frozen treats.
When it comes to supplements for your pets, things can get tricky. However, the most recommended supplement for dogs with cancer seems to be one packed with omega-3. The type of omega-3s also matters – common plant-based sources of omega-3s (e.g. alpha-linolenic acid from flax or walnuts) do not have the same effects as the fish and algae-sourced products.
Fish oil is a great option because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to tumor inhibition and strengthening the immune system. It is believed to have better absorption in dogs than flaxseed oil.
Fucoidan, a brown seaweed extraction, is also a great source of omega-3. The natural compound itself has been studied and believed to have anti-cancer effects: not only does it promote the production of immune cells, it can also suppress cancer Angiogenesis, and induce apoptosis to occur within cancer cells. This is why Fucoidan has been used extensively for cancer patients who undergo cancer treatments, to help alleviate the severe side effects of these treatments, as well as to slow down the growth of cancer tumors. For dogs, this means getting back their appetite, no more pain, more energy and less lethargy. There are many other benefits of seaweed and seaweed-based products to a dog’s diet, you can read it here.
WHAT TO AVOID
- Raw diets and treats : Raw meat, eggs, and milk carry high risk of bacterial contamination with Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli, Campylobacter, and other potentially dangerous bacteria. To a healthy dog, this might not cause a problem, but be extra cautious if your dog has cancer because they may be at a greater risks due to alterations in their immune systems (especially if they are going through chemotherapy, which reduces the number of white blood cells responsible for fighting infections).
- Rawhides, bully sticks, and the like: Even in healthy dogs, rawhides can cause digestive problems and even cancer.
- High-carbohydrates foods: You do not want to feed your dog a lot of high carbohydrates and sugar as they can trigger and feed the cancer tumors.