What are the nutritional needs of your dog with cancer?
We are joining the Give Cancer the Paw Blog Hop today. In our post for the Hop last November, we provided a list of general resources for pet owners on the initial diagnosis and treatment of canine cancer.
Today, we are going to dig a little deeper and provide some insight into the diet and nutritional needs of the canine cancer patient.
The most recent study into this field was conducted at the Cummings School of Veterinary Science at Tufts University and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association on December 1, 2012. The report is titled: Assessment of commercial diets and recipes for home-prepared diets recommended for dogs with cancer.
The authors of the study evaluated 27 different published diets or specialized commercial foods for their nutritional adequacy for dogs with cancer. Their findings were surprising. Unfortunately, the full text is not available online for free, but you can purchase it here for $30.
I was able to locate a few articles that provide a review of their findings:
- A Review of Diets Intended for Dogs with Cancer
- Evidence Update-Most Homemade Cancer Diets for Dogs are Inadequate
Probably the most important and interesting finding of Dr. Heinze and his team is this:
“Currently, the authors are aware of no evidence to suggest that cancer patients have nutrient needs that differ dramatically from maintenance requirements. Many dog owners change to home-prepared diets because of an overall perception that they are healthier than commercial diets, rather than because they provide specific nutrient profiles. Thus, it appears appropriate that home-prepared diets be formulated to meet nutrient guidelines similar to those of commercial products.”
It appears, contrary to the prior research and commonly held belief, that there may not be the need to change your dog’s diet, assuming that you are feeding them a nutritionally adequate diet to begin with.
Prior research, offering a much different view of nutritional needs was presented by Dr. Greg Ogilvie who conducted his research at Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in 1998. Their findings stated:
“Dogs and cats with cancer have significant alterations in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism, which can result in cancer cachexia and subsequently can decrease quality of life, reduce response to therapy, and shorten survival time. Nutritional modulation may be beneficial in the treatment of cancer patients to reverse these metabolic alterations. There is evidence that foods relatively low in simple carbohydrates with moderate amounts of high-quality protein, fiber, and fat (especially fats of the omega-3 fatty acid series) are beneficial for pets with cancer. In addition, certain supplemental nutrients may have potential to reduce the risk of developing cancer, or the growth and metastases of established malignant disease.”
The results of this research served as the foundation for the years of dietary recommendations for dogs with cancer, and led to the creation of the only commercial dog food clinically said to improve outcomes for dogs with lymphoma, nasal and oral cancers – Hill’s n/d (neoplasia diet).
Most of the remaining resources available support Dr. Ogilvie’s position and recommend alterations to your dog’s diet. But given the timing of Dr. Heinze work, it may just be that the new knowledge hasn’t caught up with everyone yet. We recommend that you read both studies, share the findings with your family vet and together with them formulate a plan for your pet’s nutrition.
Our dog Becca’s oncologist told us that a low-carb diet would have no impact on her tumor growth, so we did not change her diet when she developed osteosarcoma. Keep in mind that diet and nutrition are critical for a healthy dog’s well being, so it is doubly important for a dog fighting a battle with cancer.
Many thanks to our sponsors Peggy’s Pet Place and Pooch Smooches for creating this hop and allowing us to honor our dear dogs who have passed from cancer and help others currently dealing with canine cancer.