Which Proteins are Best for a Dog with Cancer?
As mentioned in previous posts, I recently consulted with holistic veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney as part of our dog Maggie’s treatment for Osteosarcoma. Dr. Mahaney believes that when treating a serious disease like cancer, a combination of modern medicine and smart nutrition is the best approach to optimize the outcomes.
Maggie has had a series of modern treatments, including stereotactic radiation, chemo therapy, and bone strengthening medicine. We have augmented these treatments with a food and supplement strategy to help Maggie’s body better deal with the inflammation and stresses of the cancer and the treatments themselves.
During my consultations with Dr. Mahaney, one of the primary areas of focus was on the Chinese medicine concept of warming, neutral, and cooling foods. For inflammatory conditions that are “hot” (like cancer), foods that are neutral or cooling are most suitable for the body.
Dry Food vs. Wet Food from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Dr. Mahaney explained that dry food is the “warmest” form of dog food and that at a minimum, water should be added to kibble to moderate its warming effect. Wet/moist foods are more cooling than kibbles. For this reason, 100% kibble diets are not optimal for pets with inflammatory illness.
Proteins from a Chinese Medicine Perspective
Because protein is the lynchpin of a dog’s diet, we discussed at great length the various types of proteins that are common in pet food, which ones we feed to Maggie, and which ones we should avoid. Thankfully, our protein choices have been good in the sense that most of the proteins that Maggie eats already are cooling to neutral. This is a byproduct of our decision to choose a rotational feeding strategy with a focus on fish and somewhat novel proteins.
Below is a summary of many of the common proteins in pet food, and how they slot into the three Chinese medicine food categories.
Cooling Proteins– turkey, duck, rabbit, fish (e.g., salmon, pollack, tuna, herring, whitefish), yogurt, cottage cheese.
Neutral Proteins– beef, pork, chicken eggs, beef liver, pork liver
Warming Proteins– chicken, lamb, venison.
As I reported last week, chicken is in 68%, lamb is in 17% and venison is in 4% of all dog foods which means that, not accounting for overlap, a pet parent dedicated to feeding neutral or cooling proteins to their dog would have to eliminate about 89% of all dog food recipes from consideration! That certainly does present a challenge, but I would argue that it is worth the extra effort to help keep the dog’s body in optimal health.
One last point that the doctor mentioned about proteins was that non-specific protein “meals” (e.g. bone meal, animal by product meal) should be avoided and that meals in general are not as cooling as their more natural whole protein counterparts due to the extra processing involved in creating the meal.
Next week, I will examine the common fruits and vegetables in dog food, and then, how these slot into the different Chinese medicine categories.