Guide to Cancer-Fighting Foods For Dogs
Nobody likes discussing the C-word, not with humans and not with regard to our pets. Without understanding how cancer affects dogs, we can’t prevent, diagnose and treat this devastating disease.
To put it into perspective, your dog’s chances of developing cancer is 1 in 4, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Once a dog reaches age 10, that figure almost doubles to around a 50% chance. While the conversation is tough, it is one we, as humans and pet parents, need to have, starting with what signs to watch for and what foods can make a difference in preventing a cancer diagnosis.
Types of Cancers in Dogs
Cancer encompasses a group of over 100 different diseases that result from a process called neoplasia, and can develop almost anywhere in the body. Neoplasia is the uncontrolled, abnormal cell growth, resulting in either benign (not-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) mass of tissue called neoplasm or tumor.
The two general types of dog tumors are benign and malignant (same as humans). Benign neoplasms typically grow slowly and don’t spread to surrounding tissue or throughout the body. On the other hand, malignant neoplasms (cancer) have an unpredictable growth rate, they invade surrounding tissues, and spread (metastasize) to other body areas.
What causes cancer in dogs?
The underlying cause of abnormal cell growth can be any number of factors such as genetics or environmental, making prevention difficult. However, the best way to manage neoplasia in dogs is early detection and treatment. It’s also another case for feeding your dog a well-balanced diet free of known cancer-causing ingredients.
Possible Signs of Cancer in Dogs
Dogs can experience cancer in many of the same organs and tissues as humans. The tissue involved and the severity of the cancer can produce various signs. Although many of the symptoms related to cancer could also indicate other non-cancer issues, you should consult your veterinarian if your dog shows any of the following signs:
- Discolored skin, lumps or bumps
- Abdominal swelling
- Non-healing wounds
- Bleeding from any body opening, including the mouth and nose
- Difficulty eating or breathing
- Sudden changes in weight
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
- Visible mass or tumor
- Unexplained heat, swelling, pain or lameness
Are There Superfoods for Dogs That Prevent Cancer?
Eating a healthy diet from an early age is crucial to the well-being of your pet. Although there is no science to back up that food alone can prevent cancer, the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF) suggests that some superfood for dogs can promote good health and potentially reduce the risk of cancer.
So, what exactly are superfoods for dogs? Foods that provide high levels of any health-supporting nutrients and are often packed with antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Here are eight superfoods according to the NCCF:
- Beets are rich in potassium, folic acid, and beta-carotene. They can help with liver function.
- Blueberries and blackberries contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Broccoli can help support organ health and fight inflammation.
- Coconut oil can aid in digestion, and fight inflammation, fungi, and bacteria.
- Fish and fish oil contain vitamin D can support heart, muscle, brain, and gut health.
- Peaches and plums are rich in vitamin C, iron, and antioxidants.
- Pumpkin is an excellent source of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A, B, and C that may help boost immunity.
- Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins A, C, E, B5, and B6, potassium, manganese, and carotenoids (antioxidants).
Other high fiber, nutrient-rich foods that are good for your dog’s health include apples, bananas, and carrots. If you find your dog is much like a child and doesn’t care for the taste of healthy foods, you can try to incorporate them through their dog food, treats, or in powder form as a meal-topper.
Are There Supplements for Dogs That Can Prevent Cancer?
You may be wondering if adding supplements can help dogs dealing with cancer. Look for veterinarian-approved supplements that provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Omega-3s fatty acids (found in foods such as fish, cod liver oil, sardines, and salmon) are nutrients long regarded as healthy fats. In addition to being central to every cell wall in the body, these fats possess anti-inflammatory properties. Our very own Dr. Sarah Ochoa notes that although “giving your dog Omega 3s are not a guarantee that they will not get cancer, it can help.” She said Omega 3s help strengthen a dog’s immune system and help keep them healthier for longer.
BarxBuddy PSA: Speak with your vet about your pet’s specific dietary needs before adjusting your dog’s food.
While there are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, providing your pet with plenty of healthy foods along with adequate daily exercise and routine vet visits can potentially make a difference in whether your dog falls victim to this terrible disease.