A natural, homemade dog cancer diet can highly enhance a dog's immune system so that he is in a better position to fight cancer. Many veterinarians suggest that an appropriate cancer diet for dogs should generally be low in carbohydrate and high in fat and protein. This page explains why such a diet is appropriate. It also looks at the Budwig diet, as well as some beneficial supplements that should be given to dogs with cancer.
You are reading this page probably because your dog has unfortunately been diagnosed with some form of canine cancer.
Don't despair and don't give up hope. I know it is hard but all is not lost yet. There are a lot of things that you can do to help your dog through this difficult time.
One thing that you definitely can and should do is to take a look at your dog's diet. A suitable dog cancer diet enriched with beneficial supplements and herbs can provide your dog with lots of "ammunition" to fight this battle, so read on...
Please also take some time to look at the menu bar (click or tap on the menu button to unhide the bar). You will find a lot of information all related to canine cancer - from cancer symptoms, treatment to prevention, and more! Educate yourself the best you can. Take control. Share your experience at our Cancer Forum. You will find a lot of first-hand experiences written by other dog parents fighting the same battle. You will also most definitely find friendly and kind emotional support and encouragement from other visitors to our site.
Now, the cancer diet ...
From a holistic point of view, many forms of dog cancer are caused by a weakened immune system, which in turn is caused, amongst other things, by a poor diet. It is important, therefore, that a natural and nutritious diet, enriched by appropriate natural supplements and vitamins, be given to a dog with cancer.
The first thing that many holistic veterinarians tell dog parents to do when their dogs have been diagnosed with cancer is that, they should not be feeding their dogs commercial kibble, which is cooked under high heat resulting in the production of various carcinogens (such as acrylamide). Instead, a natural, organic home-cooked or raw diet is recommended.
There are also suggestions that dogs with cancer be fed a special dog cancer diet, namely, a low-carbohydrate, high-fat, high-protein diet.
In an article entitled "Nutritional Approaches to Cancer Therapy", Dr. Ogilvie (DVM at Colorado State University) states that most cancer cells rely on simple carbohydrates (sugars) and to some extent, proteins, as energy sources to grow and reproduce. However, cancer cells do not do so well on specific types of fats. He feels that a proper diet can help in cancer treatment, and suggests that a dog cancer diet should contain:
As a general guideline, a dog cancer diet that contains 50% to 60% of total calories from fat, 30% to 50% of calories from protein, and the remaining portion of calories from soluble carbohyrates is recommended for dogs with cancer.
Cancer cells metabolize glucose for energy via a different pathway to healthy cells. Most cancer cells cannot utilize fatty acids or ketones (ketones are produced using fat in the liver when glucose level is low in the body.), and depend on glucose availability.
Therefore, a diet high in fat (ketogenic diet) and low in carbohydrates is beneficial for dogs with cancer.
Ever heard of the "Budwig Protocol" or "Budwig Diet"? It is a simple diet of cottage cheese and flaxseed oil suggested by Dr. Johanna Budwig (a German research scientist). In her life-long research on fats and proteins and how they affect our health, Dr. Budwig found that when organic flaxseed oil are combined with organic cottage cheese, which is rich in sulfur protein, the chemical reaction produced makes the oil water-soluble, making it easy to be absorbed into the cell membrane. Thus, mixing cottage cheese with flaxseed oil supplies your body with an abundant supply of lipoproteins. Dr. Budwig claimed when cancer patients followed this diet for around 3 months, the size of their cancer tumors would gradually reduce.
There are also anecdotal stories about how dog parents have successfully treated their dogs with cancer by using this diet. Since flaxseed oil and cottage cheese are healthy foods, it seems there is no harm in trying. However, a word of caution: some dogs are prone to develop pancreatitis when fed excessive amount of fats, so watch your dog carefully if you do decide to try this diet. You may want to use some herbs (e.g. dandelion or burdock) to help his pancreas.
For the Budwig Diet, here is what you need to do:
Add one tablespoon of organic flaxseed oil to half a cup of organic cottage cheese. Using a mixer or blender, blend the two ingredients well. You can feed it to your dog three times a day for at least 3 months.
For old dogs, it is better to substitute cottage cheese with plain yogurt since old dogs may not be able to digest the lactose in cottage cheese.
This video shows you the key points to remember when preparing the Budwig Diet:
The rest of the cancer diet should avoid flaxseed oil and cottage cheese (or yogurt), since your dog will be getting sufficient amounts of such food items in the Budwig diet.
For the rest of the diet, you should include high-quality proteins and amino acids (e.g. organic chicken, sardines, turkey, pork, lamb, beef), as well as beneficial veggies and herbs (e.g. shiitake mushrooms, cauliflower, cabbage, red and yellow bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, brussel sprouts, garlic, parsley, ginger, fresh berries, etc.) You may also include some complex carbs like brown rice, barley, etc.
A dog with cancer will understandably lose his appetite, resulting in malnutrition. One simple way to stimulate his appetite is to warm his food up to around 100°F (about 38°C) to release the aromas in the food. Another way is to add a little bit of sea salt to the food.
You may also want to add tasty and nutritious "toppings" to your dog's food to entice him to eat more. Here is a simple liver broth and puree recipe for you to try.
Natural supplements should form an integral part of a dog cancer diet. Specifically, you should give your dog the following supplements if your dog has cancer:
It has also been found that enzymes provide the potential for less cancer metastasis and recurrence, as well as longer survival times.
Additionally, enzymes can reduce side effects from radiation and chemotherapy.
Digestive enzymes such as Prozyme should therefore be added as a supplement to a dog cancer diet.
Note, however, that enzymes have blood thinning effects and should not be given to dogs with clotting disorders. Also stop giving enzymes to dogs 10 days before surgery and do not resume until the sutures are removed.
Probiotics are important in supporting and strengthening a dog's immune system. The digestive system is the largest immune organ in dogs. However, very often, dogs on medications (such as antibiotics, corticosteroids), under stress, or after surgery are depleted of the "friendly" bacteria that live in the dog's gut. As a result, the good-to-bad bacteria ratio in the dog's gut is upset, greatly weakening the dog's immune system. To strengthen the already weakened immune system of a dog with cancer, therefore, a high quality probiotic supplement is essential.
IP-6 is an extract from the bran of brown rice. Studies have found that IP-6 can help control the spread of tumors by boosting the immune system and increasing the body's natural killer cells. In addition, IP-6 may also be used to prevent cancer since it also possesses antioxidant properties.
Mushrooms (e.g. shiitake, maitake, reishi) have different active components that have strong immune support and anticancer properties. For example, polysaccharopeptides (PSP) and protein-bound polysaccharides (PSK), extracts from mushrooms, have the ability to inhibit cell proliferation in cases of leukemia, lymphoma, breast, lung and prostate cancer. They also support the immune system by enhancing T-cell growth.
Antioxidants, such as: