Food therapy can be a great help to your dog if he has cancer. Feeding a dog with cancer a high-quality diet using the proper ingredients in the proper amounts can contribute to keep him feeling great and keep his body in the best condition it can be in while he fights his disease. While food therapy doesn’t help directly with your dog’s fight against cancer, it indirectly influences your dog’s overall health.
Related: Diabetes in Dogs – What to Feed When You’re on a Budget
Food Therapy – The Unsung Hero of Cancer Dogs
While a proper diet isn’t going to make a dog with cancer suddenly blast into remission, it can give them that extra edge in their fight against this horrible disease. The secret to a proper diet for a dog with cancer is to feed his body while simultaneously starving the tumors. Again, this is simply another weapon in your cancer-fighting arsenal, not a magic bullet. However, this weapon can help to tip the scales every so much, and when it comes to cancer, your dog needs all the help he can get.
Before we get into the food, let’s talk about what food therapy helps to fight. It doesn’t help your dog fight cancer. Rather, it helps your dog’s body fight a common condition of dogs with cancer, cachexia. Cachexia is a metabolic condition which often occurs secondary to cancer and causes weight loss, loss of appetite, fatigue, and impaired immune function. ALL of that is no bueno for a dog fighting cancer. That’s why a diet rich in what your cancer dog needs and sparse in what he doesn’t is so important to helping him in the fight for his life.
Now. On to the proper food to feed your cancer dog.
The proper carbohydrate source is key to helping slow the growth of cancer in your dog’s body as well as help him maintain his energy levels. Tumor cells use glucose for energy. Energy = growth. Therefore, your dog needs carbohydrate sources which are low in glucose and also produce less glucose when they break down. These carb sources feed your dog more and the tumor less. Look for carbohydrate sources like oatmeal, brown rice, peas, or potato. These all have a lower glycemic index which means less glucose in the blood.
Food therapy for your cancer buddy requires high-quality protein and lots of it. In addition to feeding off of glucose, cancer tumors also need protein. The problem is that you can’t reduce the protein the way you can the carbs, and there’s no better choice for protein in the way that there are better carb sources. All you can do here is feed your dog a diet higher in protein so that there is enough in his diet to offset the amount absorbed by the tumors.
Fat is another important aspect of food therapy for a dog with cancer. Cachexia causes dogs to lose a lot of fat while simultaneously limiting their ability to produce new body fat. That’s no good because a dog with insufficient body fat is more susceptible to all of the bad stuff going on in his body. You’ll want to look for food with higher levels of fat as well as omega-3 fatty acids and arginine to promote fat retention, production, and muscle retention.
Food Therapy Can Give Your Dog an Edge
Food therapy for a cancer dog is essential. It may not show immediately, but food therapy using the proper diet can help promote improved body composition, energy levels, and give your dog more strength in his fight against cancer.
As a former vet employee, I do not recommend attempting to formulate a diet on your own or looking for an over the counter food that closely matches what your dog needs. Rather, I recommend Hills n/d. This is a prescription only food specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of a dog with cancer. This food is high in protein and fat, low in carbs, and has a high level of arginine and omega-3 fatty acids. It is the absolute best choice in food therapy to help your dog’s fight against cancer.
Of course, the price can sometimes be a concern. If you’re in that boat, look for high-quality dog foods high in protein and fat and low in carbohydrates. I recommend grain free. I also recommend adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to your dog’s food therapy routine if you can’t afford the prescription food.
Cancer is a horrendous thing, and your dog needs every weapon you can find in the fight against the disease. Food therapy is a weapon that can help your dog in his fight against cancer.