Cancer is becoming a more commonly diagnosed condition in both dogs and cats. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the United States, the top five cancers in huumans are breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, followed by lung cancer, colon / rectal cancer, and melanoma in both sexes (see: Common Cancer Types (NCI)).
When it comes to our pets, there’s no national organization that tracks the occurrence of cancer. We do know that many common huuman cancers are not prevalent in pets, but there are other cancers we do acquire in common (see: The Top 10 Warning Signs of Cancer, Dr Becker (Mercola)), including breast (mammary gland) cancer, lymphoma, skin cancer that takes the form of mast cell tumors in pets, and bone cancer. The rapidly growing specialty of veterinary oncology 1 provides caregivers the choices to battle cancer that are similar to those offered huuman family members, so until recently, dietary therapy has often been neglected for pets with cancer, yet feeding them the proper diet is extremely important.
Studies demonstrate that both people and pets with inadequate nutrition cannot metabolize chemotherapy drugs adequately, which predisposes them to toxicity and poor therapeutic response. This makes proper diet and nutritional supplements an important part of cancer therapy.
Several metabolic derangements are common in the cancer patient. First, cancer patients often have hyperlactatemia (increased lactic acid in the blood). In addition, since metabolism of simple carbohydrates produces lactate, a diet with minimum of these carbs might be preferred.
Research has shown a pronounced decrease in certain amino acids such as arginine in the plasma of cancer patients. If left uncorrected, these amino acid deficiencies could result in serious health risks to the patient.
Supplements with the deficient amino acids might improve immune function and positively affect treatment and survival rates.
Weight loss often occurs in cancer patients, as a result of cachexia (wasting). Most of the weight loss seen in cancer patients experiencing cancer cachexia occurs as a result of depleted body fat stores. Tumour cells, unlike normal healthy cells, have difficulty utilising lipids for energy. Dogs with lymphoma fed diets high in fat had longer remission periods than dogs fed high carb diets.
The use of Omega-3 fatty acids can promote weight gain and may have anticancer effects and warrants special mention. In people, the use of omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oils, improve the immune status, metabolic status, and clinical outcomes of cancer patients. These supplements also decrease the duration of hospitalisation and complication rates in people with gastrointestinal cancer. In animal models, the omega-3 fatty acids inhibit the formation of tumours and metastasis (spread of cancer). Finally, in addition to having anti-cachetic (anti-wasting) effects, the omega-3 fatty acids can reduce radiation damage to skin.
While many treatment options are often available for the various malignancies our fur kids experience, doctors sometimes overlook the simple aspect of nutrition. In the next decade, prevention and treatment will most likely include a focus on nutrition in veterinary medicine, just as their counterparts are now doing in the human medical field.
While there are no controlled studies showing the value of diet in supporting the pet with every type of cancer, there are studies (see: Using Alternative Therapies to Fight Cancer, Dr. Becker (Mercola)) showing the benefits of dietary therapy when combined with conventional therapies in dogs with lymphoma and nasal tumors.
What Causes Cancer?
A common question among pet parents is “What causes cancer?” There are actually several recognized causes of cancer in pets today.
- Viruses. In cats, the feline leukaemia virus, feline sarcoma virus, and feline immunodeficiency virus directly or indirectly, through suppression of the immune system, cause cancer.
- Toxins. In dogs, exposure to certain chemicals, including 4-D can cause cancer. Various food additives (see: Prescription Pet Foods Found To Contain Cancer Causing Toxins, Dana Scott (DNM)) have also demonstrated carcinogenic (see: Why Are Pet Foods Making People Sick? Dr Jodie Gruenstern (DNM)) activity in laboratory animals, prompting many owners and guardians to prepare food at home or select diets such as biologically species appropriate raw food that do not contain these synthetic additives and preservatives.
- Vaccinations (see: Vaccinations in Veterinary Medicine: Dogs and Cats (Article)). Veterinarians are now beginning to realize that in a small percentage of cats, frequent immunizations may cause certain solid tumors to develop. This is a highly controversial topic (see: How Much Money are You Wasting on Pet Vaccines? (Mercola)), and the exact reason why a small number of cats who receive vaccinations (or other injectable medications) develop cancer is not known. Current evidence suggests that in genetically susceptible pets, some component of the vaccine, or of any injection, may cause a local reaction that becomes cancerous. However, there is concern among many veterinary professionals that vaccination is a risk factor for serious autoimmune diseases such as the potentially fatal canine disorder known as autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (AIHA). The symptoms of the feline virus pan leukopenia are GI-related and include intense and rapid onset of vomiting and diarrhoea, as stated above. Canine parvovirus has similar symptoms. Pets are routinely vaccinated (see: How Often Should You Vaccinate Your Cat or Dog?, Dr. Ronald Schultz (Mercola)) for both these diseases, and the incidents of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a chronic autoimmune disease of the intestines, has been rapidly increasing in both cats and dogs. Coincidence?
- Genetics. Some pets are genetically prone to cancers (see: The Link Between Cancer and Your Pet’s Size and Color, Dr Becker (Mercola)). For example, amongst dogs, the Boxer is well-known to develop cancers at a much higher rate than many other breeds. Large breed dogs such as Retrievers have a higher incidence of malignant tumors of the spleen and liver. These examples may be the result of the in-heritability of certain types of cancers, similar to the situation that occurs with some types of cancers in people.
- Aging. Most cancers occur in older pets. The exact reason is not known, but it seems that these older pets may have decreased functioning of the immune system.
According to Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Centre , the top 10 warning signs of cancer in pets are:
- Unusual swellings that don’t go away or that grow. The best way to discover lumps, bumps, or swelling on your dog or cat is to pet him.
- Sores that won’t heal. Non-healing sores can be a sign of infection or cancer and should be evaluated by your veterinarian.
- Weight loss. Illness could be the reason your pet is losing weight but isn’t on a diet.
- Loss of appetite. Reluctance or refusal to eat is another sign of possible illness.
- Bleeding or discharge. Bleeding can occur for a number of reasons, most of which signal a problem. Unexplained vomiting and diarrhoea are considered abnormal discharges, as well.
- Offensive smell. An unpleasant odour is a common sign of tumours of the anus, mouth, or nose.
- Difficulty eating or swallowing. This is a common sign of cancers of the mouth or neck.
- Reluctance to exercise or low energy level. This is often one of the first signs that a pet is not feeling well.
- Persistent lameness. There can be many causes of lameness, including nerve, muscle, or bone cancer.
- Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating. These symptoms should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you see any of these signs in your dog, it’s important to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. Many of the symptoms of cancer are also present with other diseases. Blood tests to detect certain kinds of canine cancer are available and continue to improve.
When reading Dr Shawn Messonnier’s booked titled “Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats”, you will realise that alternative therapies such as dietary therapy, herbal therapy, homeopathy, and nutritional supplementation are often used very successfully to help treat cancer when combined with conventional therapies such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
As with most conditions, the most healthful natural diet will improve the pet’s overall health.
Principal Natural Solutions
- Natural diet, omega-3 fatty acids, glycoproteins, antioxidants
Supporting Natural Solutions
- Coenzyme Q10, proanthocyanidins, DMG, soy iso-flavones, larch, Immunostimulant herbs: alfalfa, aloe Vera (Acemannan), Astragalus, burdock, dandelion leaf, dandelion root, Echinacea, garlic, ginseng, goldenseal, hawthorn, liquorice, marshmallow, milk thistle, nettle, red clover, St John’s wort, turmeric, yellow dock;
Tumor Herbal Support Blend
No diet or herbs alone can cure cancer. Good diet can help prevent cancer. What we offer, is a specialised diet based on raw and real food, and herbs to help the recovery process. As we stated above, dietary therapy, when combined with conventional therapies, have many benefits for your pets.
Before feeding a pet with a medical condition one of our natural diets, please check with your veterinarian first to make sure the diet does not compromise your pet’s health care.
Start by introducing your fur kid to biologically species appropriate raw diet and meals. Once your fur kids transitioned to raw, typically between 4 and 6 weeks, introduce our Cancer Herbal Support Blend into the diet. The Cancer Support Blend helps your pets’ immune system to fight the spread of the cancer / tumour, and speed up the recovery process associated with conventional treatments. The Cancer Support Blend contains Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Aniseed, Black Mustard seed, Fennel seed, Rosehips and Gotu Kola.
Our Tumor Support Blend can also be used as preventative therapy. These can be used in conjunction with conventional therapies. The natural treatments are widely used with variable success but have not been thoroughly investigated and proven at this time.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- The Shock of Dog Cancer (Dog Cancer Blog);
- Dog Illness and Cancer Epidemic (Vitality Science);
- Is Cancer Prevention for Dogs Possible? (Whole Dog Journal);
- Holistic Vets Explain: Natural Treatment Of Cancer In Dogs (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
- Canine Cancer – an Introduction to Natural Management (The Possible Canine);
Dr Judy Morgan discuss Cancer and Pet Foods
Dr Karen Becker on Cancer in Pets
Dr. Karen Becker Talks About Osteosarcoma in Dogs
Dr. Karen Becker Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs and Cats
Dr. Karen Becker Discusses Brain Tumors
Dr. Karen Becker Discusses Anal Gland Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Dr. Karen Becker Discusses Bile Duct Cancer in Dogs and Cats
Dr. Karen Becker Discusses Adrenal Gland Cancer in Dogs
References and Research
- 1.Kidd C. The many challenges of veterinary oncology. Can Vet J. 2008;49(11):1132-1135. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19183739.