Dog Cancer Diet
One of the Most Important Considerations
Why a special diet for dogs with cancer? There are many different
therapies used to fight canine cancer, depending upon the patient and the type of
cancer. But one thing all dog cancers have in common is the need for a
specialized diet. Every process in the body is regulated and controlled by what
goes in the mouth. If you want the best chance for a good outcome, you must give
your dog the proper building blocks to use in fighting this disease, and keep
out those things which will cause further harm. Diet is crucial for a dog with
"Dogs rarely die of cancer. They usually succumb to secondary liver or kidney failure. These are cancer side effects that can usually be avoided by controlling the diet"
When a dog is fighting cancer, the first concern is to get the immune function back to normal. For most dogs, this is adequately addressed by the use of the K-9 Immunity™ and K9 Transfer Factor™ combination. The next most important issue is diet. A dog with cancer is building a lot of new tissue, and adequate proteins and cell membrane compounds (omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids) are required to do this. When the adequate amounts of the correct proteins and fats are not present in the diet, the body will rob it from other places, leading at best to muscle wasting, but more likely complications with the functions of the kidneys and dog liver cancer. This can lead to kidney and liver failure, which is something your poor dog does not need on top of the cancer. Fortunately, these secondary liver and kidney complications can usually be avoided by watching the dog's diet.
"Diet is one thing that is easily controlled, and is often the only thing that makes the difference between a successful treatment outcome and a failure"
The first rule for feeding a dog with cancer is to STAY AWAY FROM GRAINS! Dogs did not evolve as grain eaters. Most of our commercial dog foods are based upon rice, wheat or corn. But if we look at dogs in nature, we find they never graze in the wheat field or rice paddies. Dogs have evolved for the past 10 million years as primarily meat eaters. They simply do not produce the enzymes necessary to digest grains. While rice and corn may be a good filler for the dog food companies, they don't make a good filler for the dog. Read your dog food label: make sure the first ingredient on the list is some type of meat. You will almost always find some grains listed, but they should be down the list a ways, not right at the top. Sorghum is a better filler than corn, which is better than rice or wheat. For a canine cancer patient, any commercial dry food should be supplemented with additional animal protein sources. Feel free to add canned sardines (best), cottage cheese, eggs and just about any kind of meat such as hamburger or ground turkey. High fat content is good. Some vets advocate a raw diet, while some say it should be cooked. More important than cooked or raw is the amount of animal-based protein and fats. Keep in mind, dogs are primarily carnivores. They do best on the diet they evolved to eat.
"Fish oil at 1000 mg per 20 lbs of dog each day is a recommended supplement for dogs with cancer"
Certain fatty acids called Omega 3, 6 and 9 are required in fighting cancer. Fish oil is a good source of these specific fatty acids. We HIGHLY recommend fish oil be added to any cancer dogs diet. It is easy to get a dog to take their fish oil. If you open the softgel, you will find it is stinky and fishy. It's like candy for dogs. They love it. Just snip open the capsule and squeeze some out so the dog can smell it the first time, and after that you should have no problem with the dog taking the capsules. One 1000 mg softgel capsule per 20 lbs body weight per day is a good dose for dogs. (60 lbs dog gets 3 capsules per day). Some people like to use flax seed oil, and that is okay in theory, but often times dogs will not readily eat flax oil so it needs to be disguised in a carrier. This is a good indication it is not the best choice. It is better to stick with fish oil.
"We think our K9 Omega is the best fish oil available
for dogs, but you can also use a fish oil from your local store. Buy the cheap
one. It has less additives and the dogs do better on it"
Recommended Dog Food Brands
We are often asked what the best brand of dog food is for cancer patients. There are many good foods on the market and some that are not so good. It primarily has to do with the amounts and types of grain present.
DogCancer.net has tested many different grain free dog foods and Taste of the Wild is the one we like the best for making that step towards a healthier pet. You may also find that your dog will eat less due to decreased fillers and increased fat/protein levels
This dog food may also be supplemented with additional sources of animal based proteins and fats. High levels of proteins and fats combined with lower levels of carbohydrates are most beneficial to dog cancer patients. Going Grain Free is the best, but on any food you buy, READ THE INGREDIENT LABEL and make sure at least the first two ingredients are some type of meat. If the first ingredient is corn meal, or rice, or wheat, choose another brand. This is very important!
You should also consult your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough for a high protein, high fat diet (especially for those suffering from pancreas, liver, kidney, spleen concerns).
"Don't assume just because the dog food is expensive, that it is necessarily good!"
Don’t forget to switch to grain free treats for your dog. DogCancer.net has a selection of K9 Treats to choose from and purchase in conjunction with your K-9 Immunity™ products. These treats are sure to make your dog beg for more!
Read this important article about the use of grain in dog food and for grain free dog food suggestions: Going Against Grain - Whole Dog Journal [PDF]
The Canine Cancer Diet:
Most canine cancer patients will do best on a grain free commercial dog food supplemented with the addition of a partially cooked or raw food diet. If you are concerned with how your dog will react with a raw diet, start off with rare cooked meat and slowly wean them to raw.
Due to the high acid in their stomach, dogs are not susceptible to the bacteria that humans are and a raw diet is a benefit to them. Their stomach acid also allows them to digest bone.
The raw food diet (or BARF diet – Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods) should consist of 75% meat and 25% fruit/veggies
BARF Diet Ingredients:
Bones – they MUST be raw – cooked/smoked bones are never safe as they will splinter
Meat – chunked or ground (beef, lamb, chicken, pork, etc)
Offal (liver, kidneys, heart, unbleached green tripe (which can be purchased in a can at your local gourmet pet food store))
Vegetables – (broccoli, spinach, celery, bok choy, carrot, capsicum)
Fruit – (whole apple, whole pear, whole grapefruit, whole orange)
Other Goodies - Whole egg, flax seed, garlic, kelp, alfalfa, kefir
Yogurt and cottage cheese are good to mix with the fruit/veggies to entice the dog to eat them
Recipe – 1 week of raw meat patties for a 50 pound active dog
4 lbs ground meats – beef and/or lamb and/or chicken and/or turkey
2 cups raw goat milk or 1 cup yogurt or cottage cheese
3 raw eggs
1 glove garlic
1.5 pound mixed veggies (such as sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, kale, spinach)
Mix in food processor and make into patties to freeze
No two dogs are alike in the amount of food they require; dogs typically eat 2% of their body weight, but more active or dogs with a high metabolism may require 3-4%.
It is a good idea to give the raw diet in the morning and some dry, grain-free kibble in the evening.
You can also be creative and give chunked meat along with a mix of fruit/veggies/yogurt. Change is good to ensure a variety of nutrients.
Other Dietary Supplements to Enhance Chemo-Therapy:
- Vitamin E – 400 iu per day
- Selenium – 100 mcg per day
- Beta-carotene - or raw carrots, grated, if the dog likes them
- Green tea extract (decaffeinated) 50 -100 mg/day
- Grape seed extract
These ingredients are all antioxidants. While antioxidants enhance the effectiveness of some of the chemo drugs, they may interfere with other chemo drugs. If the dog is on chemotherapy, discuss with the oncologist whether the dog should be taken off these during the course of chemo. The information on this is changing daily. See Dr. Messonnier's book "Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs" chapter 7, for more specific details on this subject. If your oncologist is not familiar with antioxidant-enhanced chemotherapy, perhaps you could recommend to him or her this book.
Membrane stabilizers such as omega-3-fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid and coenzyme Q-10 are also important additions. Antioxidants can be good for preventing and treating canine cancer, but do not add additional Vitamin C to the dog's diet unless specifically recommended by your vet. Dog's make their own Vitamin C.
Many veterinarians feel that antioxidants should be stopped three days before, and resumed one week after the completion of the radiation or chemo treatment. This comes from earlier assumptions and is not necessarily the latest info. It is crucial you work with your oncologist to achieve maximum effectiveness in your dog's treatment!
Immunomodulators that should be used in all canine cancer patients.
- K-9 Immunity™ should be used at a dose of 1 capsule per 10 lbs per day to enhance immune function and cancer recognition.
- K9 Transfer Factor ™ or Transfer Factor Plus Advanced Formula ™, or other transfer factor product should be used to enhance bio-availability of the K-9 Immunity™. Usual dose is 100-200 mg / 10 lbs / day
Optional Immune stimulants that may be beneficial:
- Echinacea: This plant is an immune-system booster. You can find Echinacea in health food stores in several forms: tablets, tinctures, capsules, and extracts of dried or fresh roots. American doctors aren’t familiar with Echinacea but in other countries there as been a lot of research done. Follow adult dosing directions.
- Astragalus: This comes from the root of the plant, Astragalus membranaceus. It has been used in China to fight respiratory infections including colds and flu. Studies in the West have confirmed its immune-boosting and antiviral properties. Follow adult dosing directions.
Other purported Anti-Cancer herbs:
- Cat's Claw: Uncaria tomentosa, comes from Peru and was used to treat arthritis and cancer. Studies have confirmed that it has antioxidants and immune-enhancing properties. For small dogs, use ¼ the adult dosage and for medium dogs use ½.
- Pau D'Arco: This herb is extracted from the bark of the Tahebuia genus tree in South America. It contains lapachol and other phytochemicals which produce anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory results. For small dogs, use ¼ the adult dosage and for medium dogs use ½.
Other Dietary Supplements:
- Milk Thistle: This helps prevent dog cancer liver damage. It can help treat hepatitis and prevent injury from other drugs. It can protect the liver from chemotherapy and anti-convulsants (phenobarbital). Suggested dosage is 250 mg for a dog under 25 lbs, and 500 mg for a dog over 25 lbs once daily. Milk thistle should be used in most cases of liver cancer, but always ask your veterinarian.
- Shark Cartilage: This has anti-angiogenic properties which reduce blood vessels in tumors. You can use 1000-2000 mg of shark cartilage if recommended by your vet or oncologist
- Essiac tea, Wheatgrass extract, Soybean Concentrate or Chlorella. These are sometimes used, but are not proven treatments.
- Spirulina and chlorella provide protein, vitamins and minerals. Miraculous claims made for these products have not been substantiated.
IMPORTANT: Cancer is a very serious disease. The information provided here is intended for educational use and is not intended to substitute for the advice of a professional. This page is not intended as an endorsement of any product. You should discuss all forms of treatment with your veterinarian.
K-9 Immunity™ is a serious supplement that your vet should consider adding to the course of therapy he or she is recommending for treatment of your dog's cancer. It contains the most widely used anticancer compounds in the world: PSK, PSP and Lentinan, as well as nearly 200 other closely related heteropolysaccharide immunomodulator compounds. It is available in the USA and most other countries without a prescription. K-9 Immunity™ is a daily supplement derived from all natural, all 100% certified organic sources. And it is made in America to the highest pharmaceutical standards. If you are outside the USA, email our order desk for full details on any shipping or permit requirements for your country. We currently ship to over 30 countries, so chances are we can get this to you.