Nutrition and Cancer

Expert Nutritional Advice on Helping Your Dog’s Cancer

Many people have for years suspected that nutrients play a key role in our prevention, control and treatment of malignancies in dogs. Now, it is finally accepted by experts and scientists that it is not folklore but a truth. Experts are optimistic that nutrients can be effective measures in preventing and treating certain types of cancers.

Many micronutrients are extremely effective when combined with traditional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and biologic responsive modifiers. Any nutrient that is used in conjunction with other anticancer therapies is called adjuvant therapeutics.

Cachexia is a metabolic consequence of cancer that is extremely important. This is a progressive involuntary weight loss that occurs even despite adequate nutritional intake. Any dog that has this ends up with a decreased response to treatment and shortened survival time. Before any clinical signs of cachexia are even noticed, the metabolic alterations have already occurred.

There are three phases of cancer cachexia:

  • The first is silent and the dog does not exhibit any outward signs of the disease but the biochemical changes and alterations in amino acids are present.
  • During the second phase the dog will start to lose weight, appear anorexic and lethargic.
  • In the third phase, the dog has marked debilitation, weakness and is losing carbohydrate and protein stores in the body.

Sadly, these dogs are wasting away because of the physical effects of the cancer and the alterations in metabolism. The most profound metabolic alterations in dogs with cancer occur in carbohydrate metabolism. A theory is that diets high in simple carbohydrates may increase the total amount of lactate produced and causes the host to utilize excessive energy for the conversion of lactate. This excessive lactate can have long-term detrimental effects on dogs with cancer.

Cancer creates significant alterations in carbohydrate metabolism. To put it plainly, the carbohydrates feed the cancer at the expense of the host. Tumours often prefer to use amino acids for energy via gluconeogenesis. This causes alterations in many important body functions, such as immune response, gastrointestinal function and surgical healing.

The host and the cancer cells both compete for the amino acids. If the diet cannot supply the need, the malignant process takes them from the host. High quality amounts of proteins should be provided. Amino acids like arginine and glutamine really benefit the host by helping the immune system and reducing gastrointestinal toxicity for dogs with cancer.

Much of the weight loss that occurs in cancer cachexia is from loss of fat. Diets that are high in fat and low in simple carbohydrates can benefit animals with cancer. N-3 fatty acids have shown to reduce many metabolic alterations in the dog with cancer. These fatty acids have an anti-cancer effect and reduce the adverse effects associated with radiation.

Each dog with cancer needs to be assessed individually to determine the appropriate amount of nutrients that it should receive. Retinoids have the ability to regulate cancer cells. Various studies have determined that these agents are beneficial either as a stand alone or in combination with other agents in the treatment of certain types of malignancies.

Vitamin C has the most potential in preventing malignant disease as well as in treating certain cancers. Vitamin C could be an alternative for overcoming drug resistance in certain cancer cells. It has been known to prevent cancers of the esophagus and stomach.

Vitamin E has the broad capability to inhibit mammary tumour carcinogenesis and colon carcinogenesis. It has chemo-preventative properties and works against certain malignancies. Studies have shown that dogs have received complete remission and some a 50% reduction in tumour size.

Some minerals suggested as chemo-preventive or anticancer agents are, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, lead, iron, potassium, sodium, arsenic, iodine, germanium and selenium. Several amino acids have also been used as a basis for inhibiting tumour growth.

The enzyme L-Asparaginase has been useful in treating lymphoma and leukemia in dogs. Garlic extracts also have an anti-promotion effect in animals exposed to carcinogens.

Feeding your dog with a holistic diet of fresh foods and supplements, avoiding preservatives, additives and chemicals, will support the body and reduce the chances of getting cancer and reduce the impact if they do get it. Add anticancer herbs like green tea and turmeric to their foods daily.

Recognize the signs of cancer:

  • fussy appetite
  • lumps and bumps
  • weight loss
  • sores that won’t heal
  • odour
  • lethargy
  • difficulty breathing
  • stiffness or soreness
  • loss of enthusiasm
  • difficulty breathing
  • difficulty urinating or defecating
  • persistent discharges

It is very important to greatly reduce the carbohydrates in the diet and to increase with fats and proteins. The best fats to add are fish oils and flax. Some anticancer foods are beetroot, broccoli, parsley, berries, apples, pears, peaches, grapes, plums, cabbage, sage, garlic, yams, cauliflower, shitake mushrooms, green and orange vegetables, potatoes, yogurt, fish, carrots, watermelon, spleen, fresh thymus and extracts. Feed approximately 60% meat and 40% vegetables.Download the Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs

I lost two dogs to cancer and did everything in my power to prolong and enhance the quality of their lives. There are many things we can do from diet to exercise and I talk about all this in my e-book, “The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs.” I explain what I did to help my dogs when they became sick and how it is so much more than just their diet but how diet is so very important.

Supplement the dog’s diet with Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, Omega-3 fatty acids, and digestive enzymes. All anti-cancer diets are from fresh foods or home cooked foods. Good nutrition is extremely important in anti-cancer diets. You can dramatically increase the lifespan of your dog by feeding them a top quality diet. “Thy food is thy medicine” said Hippocrates.

About the Author
Helga Schmitt has been passionately studying and researching dog health, physiotherapy and rehabilitation hands on for the past 20 years. Her keen interest in health and healing motivated her to become a Chartered Herbalist and also obtain a degree in Nutrition and Advanced Holistic Nutrition. She furthered with a Certificate in Homeopathy and continues to study various healing modalities to this day. She is a Certified and Registered Canine Hydrotherapist. Her research, past and current studies and experience, have her striving to educate dog owners that there are numerous ways to achieving and maintaining optimum health for your pet. Read more on Cancer in dogs in her best selling book, “The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs.”



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2 Responses to Nutrition and Cancer

  • Dawn Mello says:

    I am surprised you would encourage grapes or garlic to your readers. Both can kill dogs.

  • helga says:

    Hi Dawn,
    I am glad you are aware of various foods that are toxic to our pets. Many people do not realize substances like grapes and garlic can be toxic. These foods are toxic if fed in high doses. Oregon grape is a powerful natural antibiotic used by many holistic vets to fight cancer in dogs. It also fights fungal and bacterial infections in a dog’s ears, eyes and respiratory system. It should however, never be given to a dog that has liver disease or is pregnant or nursing its litter. This should only be used under the guidance of a holistic vet.

    Garlic is another substance that used in small quantities is a super antibiotic. It supports and boosts the dog’s immunity and is a great herbal alternative for dogs with cancer. If it is given in high doses it can cause anemia. Again, this is something that should be used with caution and under the guidance of a holistic vet.

    Thank you for your feedback and may you and your dogs have a happy and healthy life!

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