Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the canine world, and as with humans, it can be treated if caught early enough. But once it spreads, it can be fatal. There are certain attributes and lifestyle choices that can put dogs at more risk of developing cancer, but one of the main contributing factors is their diet.
As their pet parent, you need to ensure that your dog is living as healthy as possible so that they live longer and happier lives. Once dogs develop cancer, their quality of life can be reduced dramatically, because their bodies become weak, causing fatigue, lack of movement, and loss of appetite, as well as overall pain and discomfort for your poor pup!
It’s more common for particular breeds to get cancer due to genetics, and they tend to be larger dogs. Being aware of the warning signs of cancer should be a priority for every pet owner, but if you own one of these breeds, you may need to be more vigilant:
- Golden Retriever
- Great Dane
- German Shepherd
- Bernese Mountain Dog
- Doberman Pinscher
THE MOST COMMON FORMS OF CANCER
Certain cancers are more common among canines, which include:
- Hemangiosarcoma: This cancer starts in the blood vessels, and it can spread rapidly to organs such as the lungs and heart while remaining undetectable. It’s more common in dogs than it is in any other species.
- Lymphoma: A rapidly spreading cancer, it affects the dog’s immune system, which puts them at risk of developing other illnesses. This occurs in the lymph nodes and bone marrow.
- Mast Cell Tumors: Mast cells are situated in the connective tissues, and in the vessels and nerves near the surface, such as the skin, nose, mouth, and lungs. This cancer is common in older dogs and mixed breeds and can impact breathing and gut health.
- Melanoma: Spreading through the deep tissue of the skin, it generally starts in the mouth, eyes, footpads, or nail beds. Skin tumors are common in dogs, and tumors from Melanoma are often benign.
- Osteosarcoma: This is the most common form of bone cancer found in canines and can be extremely aggressive. It’s far more prevalent in larger breeds and usually arises in the bones of the limbs, although it can be present in any bone.
HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE CAN DIET MAKE?
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, two of the main ways to reduce the risk of cancer in dogs is to keep your pup from becoming overweight and to feed them an anti-inflammatory diet [i].
The National Library of Medicine suggests that between 30 and 40 percent of cancers are preventable [ii], through choosing to feed your dog a healthy diet, and keeping them active. Cancer likes and feeds on the toxins and sugars from carbohydrates, which your dog, in fact, doesn’t really need. Feeding your furry friend a diet abundant in protein and antioxidants will aid their overall health, and help to prevent the dreaded C word.
11 FOODS TO PREVENT CANINE CANCER
Berries are full of antioxidants, as well as vitamins and fiber, which all help with heart health, as well as cognitive functions such as memory. So, they’ll assist your dog’s ability to learn new skills and tricks, too! The antioxidants prevent cell damage, which keeps the body strong and more able to fight disease.
The best are blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries, although some dogs may be hesitant to eat them, because of the bitter or sour flavor of some berries. If they do turn their nose up at the fruits, try mixing them in with some other food to disguise them. If your dog enjoys the taste, use the fruits as little treats for good behavior. You don’t want to overdo it because of the fructose (sugar) in the berries.
Antioxidants are the most important players in tackling alien cells in the body, and broccoli is full of them! Antioxidants send out antibodies that fight health-threatening cells, such as cancer. They’re able to take down the cancerous cells before they grow and spread.
Broccoli also contains minerals and vitamins that have other talents, such as anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and anti-microbial. All these are beneficial to the immune system! You can find similar characteristics in other greens such as cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
WARNING! The stems of the broccoli are a lot easier for dogs to digest, so why not cut them off, and keep the heads of the tiny trees for your own dinner. Otherwise, your dog might be dealing with some uncomfortable and unwanted gas…
Protein keeps your pup’s muscles and immune system strong, as well as encouraging cell renewal, which speeds up recovery and healing from wounds and disease. Protein also provides you with strength, which helps keep dogs active! Physical movement maintains a good weight, which is vital for preventing not only cancer but other life-threatening diseases such as heart disease.
Cancerous tumors feed on the protein in the body, so for dogs who already suffer from cancer, a high protein diet is essential. Otherwise, their bodies aren’t able to tackle the diseases that attack their immunity.
Eggs are full of health-boosting components! They’re a great source of protein and vitamin D3, a known ingredient in cancer prevention, as well as being low in calories! They also contain zinc, which is necessary for a healthy immune system! Without enough zinc, your pup could be prone to developing other diseases, which is already at threat with the onset of cancer.
If you’re worried that your dog is low in essential minerals, such as zinc, you can try feeding them the Petlab Co.’s Multivitamin Chews. They’re specially formulated to enhance overall health, providing dogs with the strength and ability to fight off disease, keep muscles and bones moving, and the heart to function well. All of this can help prevent your pup from developing horrible ailments such as heart disease and cancer.
5. Dark Leafy Vegetables
Leafy vegetables, including kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, provide dogs, and us, with an array of health benefits. But, before we get too excited, do note that high consumption can cause gastric upset, just like the heads of broccoli can.
These greens contain isothiocyanate, which is known to reduce the risk of cancer. They’re also famous for enabling the body to absorb vitamins at a higher level, whether eaten raw or cooked. They also hold chlorophyll, an effective blocker of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances)!
6. Fish Oil
Fish and fish oil contain good fats, that are actually good for your furry friend’s health! Also containing the same vitamin D3 that eggs hold, it aids in the fighting of potentially damaging cancer cells. Fish oil comes in supplements, or feed your dog wild fish such as salmon, sardines, or cod.
The active ingredient in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin has a myriad of talents, one of which is fighting cancer, by halting the spread of cancer cells. Mixing some turmeric into your dog’s bowl of food may not be effective, as it can pass right through their system. It’s easier to digest in supplement form.
If you’re also worried about your dog’s joints, and their weight, turmeric is an incredible anti-inflammatory, that’s known to lubricate stiff joints, as well as boost a dog’s energy levels. Having an active lifestyle is known to warden off cancer. So, try Petlab Co.’s Joint Care Chews. They contain turmeric and fish oil, both of which are cancer-preventing foods, too!
Parsnips can be fed to your dog either raw or cooked. Containing fiber, they’re excellent for digestion, which in turn helps absorb more minerals from other foods. They also provide minerals and vitamins that boost the immune system – essential for cancer-fighting pups. Plus, they contain vitamin K and antioxidants that maintain healthy bones and improve metabolism. Need we say more about this incredible vegetable?
Seeing as fall is upon us, and it’s time for those big, orange spheres to come out, it’s worth mentioning the health benefits, as well as the tastiness! Pumpkin is abundant in beta-carotene, which not only gives pumpkin its orange color, it also slows down the growth of cancer, and even boosts enzymes that work to get rid of cancerous substances.
Plus, beta-carotene turns into vitamin A when it enters the body. This vitamin is an antioxidant, so it prevents free radicals from doing damage to the body. When making your pumpkin pie this year, save a bit of pumpkin for your pup to enjoy, too!
10. Coconut Oil & Olive Oil
These oils contain fatty acids that you don’t find in manufactured dog foods. Dogs need these natural fats because it helps them to absorb the nutrients from other foods, for overall good health! You can just add a spoonful to their bowl of food, easy.
Coconut oil is good for the skin and is said to protect it against cancerous growths[iii]. Coconut oil is particularly good for older dogs because it has fewer calories than other fatty acids, which helps to maintain a healthy weight, and also ease the pain of joint disorders.
11. Peaches & Plums
Pitted fruits are scrumptious and sweet, but they also make for a nourishing treat! Peaches are incredible at clearing the body of toxins, and removing toxins better the chance of preventing cancer! These fruits are also rich in antioxidants, while plums also contain vitamin C and iron.
Remember to remove the pit before feeding either of these fruits to your dog, because the stone can be poisonous for your dog. It’s also possible that they’ll choke on it, so best to remove the hazard.
Choosing the right diet for your pet could save them from illnesses and diseases such as cancer. Incorporate these foods into their daily diet, and keep them active, for ultimate health. If you’re unsure that your dog will digest these foods, take them to your local vet. None of us want to see our pups in pain, so let’s give them the best fighting chance!