Cancer is unfortunately a rather common disease in dogs. Working in a veterinary clinic, I regularly see dogs and cats diagnosed with this disease.
First of all, please know that we are wholeheartedly with you if you have to face this disease with your dog, or have accompanied a loved one in this battle in the past. We know this is a delicate subject and hope that our tips can help you find a little comfort.
In this article I will discuss nutrition and provide an overview of supplements to give dogs that are fighting cancer. In other words, we will give you the ingredients you need to provide your sick dog with an anti-cancer diet. Some foods can even help prevent cancer from developing. You can refer to our complete guide to dog cancer for more details on the disease, its different forms and possible treatments.
I will also give you tips on what to feed a dog with cancer who won't eat.
Our years of experience in animal health and natural products have enabled us to put together a reliable guide for you on nutrition for animals with cancer. So without further ado, let's see what to offer your pet to slow the progression of its cancer or even to prevent its development.
What is the best diet and the best foods to feed a dog with cancer?
Proper nutrition, in the context of cancer, is particularly important for three reasons: preserving good muscle mass, minimizing metabolic and gastrointestinal intolerances to food and, above all, preserving a good quality of life.
Whether it’s for liver cancer, bone cancer, colon cancer, lymphoma or any other type of dog cancer, nutrition plays a major role in maintaining health. Giving the right food to dogs with cancer is important in order to allow the body to function properly and therefore strengthen the immune system.
So, what do you feed a dog with cancer?
Fruits and vegetables
What could be easier than giving your dog treats consisting of fruits and vegetables? They will be happier and healthier! It is believed that certain fruits and vegetables can play an important role in preventing cancer. This includes, amongst others:
Tomato contains a substance, lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant. In the laboratory, this substance has had a significant effect in slowing the growth of cancer cells in the case of osteosarcoma.
On the other hand, we cannot yet extrapolate this result to say that it will have a certain effect on a dog. If you decide to give it a go, be careful to give very ripe, seedless tomatoes.
That said, watermelon is said to contain even more lycopene than a tomato!
Are sweet potatoes suitable for a dog with cancer?
Absolutely! Well cooked, of course. They are rich in vitamins and beta-carotene, which is believed to help lower the risk of certain cancers. Its high level of antioxidants is also believed to help fight cancer directly.
Supplements available for a dog with cancer
Some supplements can be given to dogs who have cancer in order to give them an extra chance in their fight. In particular, I am thinking of omega-3s and antioxidants.
Omega-3 supplements can be of great assistance in the fight against cancer. Additionally, fish oil added directly to food can improve its taste.
Omega-3s help decrease chronic inflammation in the body and studies have even shown it to help prevent a type of lymphoma in dogs.
Be careful to use a quality supplement and talk to your vet first because a precise concentration must be given in order to be effective and safe for your furry companion.
Otherwise, antioxidants can be very helpful in fighting cancer. As with omega-3s, it's best to consult with your vet for the proper dosages.
Homemade food for dogs with cancer
Just know that cooking for your sick dog is much more complex than you might think. Ideally, for a dog with cancer, we want to achieve a specific ratio for each macronutrient.
Some professionals suggest aiming for a homemade dog cancer diet that is moderate in protein (18-22%), low in carbohydrates (3-13%) and high in fat (55-60%), with an intake of antioxidants (if your pet is not undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy).
Here is a suggested dog cancer diet recipe, which could be reviewed by your vet to see if it’s appropriate for your pet depending on their type of cancer. The amounts of ingredients are given as a proportion but should be adjusted according to your pet's weight. A supplement of minerals and vitamins should also be added.
500g of lean ground beef (10% fat)
130g of cow's milk
75g whole egg
255g of cooked potato with the peel
20g of wheat bran
20g of rapeseed oil
Commercial diets (sold in pet stores or grocery stores) are often high in carbohydrates. It is therefore often this aspect that we aim to improve with a home cooked diet, in addition to providing more appetizing foods. Some veterinary companies offer appropriate diets for animals with cancer, but if you want to venture into a home cooked diet, remember that you want to decrease carbohydrate intake, but also provide your pet with high quality protein, as well as good fats (omega-3).
Fast-growing tumors will actually feed on carbohydrates, and that's why we want to limit them. However, the recommendations will be different for a dog with a slow growing tumor (they tend to feed on fat).
Foods to avoid for dogs with cancer
We want to avoid providing a diet of raw meats to an animal with cancer. This is because animals with cancer have weaker immune systems, especially those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Raw food is more likely to contain bacteria. This can result in a greater risk of infection for the dog.
You also want to avoid giving any table food. The goal is to have good diet control for a dog with cancer.
What to feed a dog with cancer who won't eat or has no appetite?
If your pet does not eat at least ⅔ of its food, we recommend that you assist it and feed it by hand (without forcing it).
Make sure your pet stays well hydrated by stimulating its water intake.
Personally, my dog suffers from endocrine disease and it’s difficult to motivate him to eat. I add water to his food and heat it up in the microwave a bit, and usually that's enough to tempt him to eat.
On the other hand, other dogs may respond better to food taken out of the refrigerator. This is because, if they are nauseous for example, the taste will be less pronounced.
Generally, canned food is more palatable than dry food.
In any case, we suggest you feed in small portions, frequently, to limit stress on the digestive system and increase the ability to absorb nutrients.
If your dog still refuses to eat after all these efforts, your vet can prescribe an appetite stimulant medication. Acupuncture and acupressure can also have an impact on appetite and can perhaps be of interest to an animal that refuses to eat.
It’s a major asset in the dog's fight against cancer, but can also be used as a tool before having cancer issues. Thousands of animals have had a taste of PIPTOPET and have appreciated it for their dog during their fight against cancer and their fight to shrink their tumors.
To conclude, I understand if you feel a little lost in all of this. The world of nutrition is very complex, and even more so for animals with a disease as unpredictable as cancer.
You're already on the right track if you're reading this because you clearly care about your pet's well-being and are doing the proper research.
Have you been there? We would love to know your story. I invite you to share with us your experience with canine cancer in the comments below.