A cancer diagnosis in a dog is likely to leave the pet owner feeling terrified and powerless. However, in such cases, establishing the root cause of the diagnosis and taking an active role in the management and treatment is paramount.
Diet does play an important role in the life quality of a dog diagnosed with cancer. This disease can affect the pet’s digestive system while the various treatment methods cause the development of mouth ulcers and a lack of saliva. The treatment also comes with side effects, including appetite loss and diarrhea. In other words, it can diminish your dog’s life quality.
Dogs with this condition undergo intricate biological changes that need a delicate dietary plan, making it necessary to consult an oncologist, veterinarian, or nutrition specialist to make sure your dog consumes the right diet. Here’s what you should know about the dietary requirements of a dog with cancer.
The Effect of Cancer on a Dog’s Metabolism
Cancer cachexia is common in dogs with cancer. The metabolic condition results in appetite loss, weight loss, impaired immunity, and fatigue. Cancer changes the way a dog’s body metabolizes proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
Most of the weight loss in dogs with cancer is a result of body fat loss. Decreased appetite and metabolism changes hamper the creation of new fat. As a result, the body begins consuming stored fats.
A dog with cancer will try to meet its protein needs, but so will the tumor. This leads to a reduction in the available protein for sustaining muscle mass in a dog. The protein deficit results in poor immunity, muscle wasting, and delayed healing of wounds.
Carbohydrate metabolism is the worst affected. Cancer cells metabolize glucose from carbs and as a result the tumor cells gain energy while your dog gets nothing. In such cases, even a well-intentioned, carb rich diet can be disastrous for the pet, since it is the cancer cells that actually benefit.
Dietary Requirements for a Dog with Cancer
Dog specialists assert that the main diet objective of a dog with cancer is weight maintenance. For this reason, pet owners shouldn’t make drastic changes to a dog’s diet until they’ve consulted an oncologist or a specialist.
A major mistake is introducing sudden changes to their dog’s diet. This could lead to vomiting and diarrhea. This doesn’t mean you can’t mix their diet to give them variety particularly if they’re undergoing chemotherapy. Like humans, their taste buds differ, so offer them a healthy variety of options.
Best Cancer Foods
Experts recommend a diet comprising easy-to-digest fatty proteins such as chicken and eggs. You’ll want to avoid beef because it’s hard to digest. Pet owners who home cook their pet’s meals must ensure they cook poultry, fish, and pork thoroughly to kill microbes. If your dog starts experiencing appetite loss, consider seasoning the food lightly with pet-safe spices such as coriander, cumin and turmeric.
Foods to Exclude
While dietary requirements vary from dog to dog, there are some foods that are best kept away. These include grains and most dog foods comprise grains because they’re affordable fillers.
While proteins are required, vets warn that not all dogs respond positively to high-protein diets. In fact, the diet might have negative outcomes for some, particularly those with cancer and other medical issues, for instance, kidney failure.
Formulating an anti-cancer diet with your vet’s support is a great start. Some of the best anti-cancer food to include would be
- Fish oil
Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that help shrink tumors and decrease inflammation, strengthen the immune system and help slow down the growth of cancer cells.
- Fresh and Organic Meats and Vegetables
Fresh vegetables like spinach and broccoli are especially beneficial to dogs with cancer. Garlic is another power food since it contains organic allyl sulfur components that are effective in inhibiting the process of cancer.
Fresh, clean and highly bioavailable meats are great options too. These can be served either raw or cooked help increase appetite.
- Vitamin C
Potent antioxidants in Vitamin C help neutralize free radicals and can be supplemented with Omega-3 supplements to enhance your pet’s diet.
Balance Works Best
Vets, especially the holistic ones suggest moving from processed foods to natural and homecooked meals. While the debate still rages on about the benefits of incorporating an anticancer diet management plan, numerous pet owners swear by its benefits of a healthy balanced diet, if not in alleviating the disease, but in allowing for a longer survival time, longer disease-free intervals and most importantly in improving the overall quality of your pet’s life.