As we have discussed in detail before, prevention is the most effective method of treating cancer—stopping it before it starts. We went over some action steps in our previous blog, but what about some easy additions to your dog’s diet to help stop cancer from forming, or limit the impact it has on their body if it does become an issue?
Fish oil is great for dogs that are totally healthy, as well as those who are trying to limit the impact cancer may have on their body. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D3, and is known to limit inflammation and potentially help to slow the growth of cancerous tumors. For healthy dogs, fish oil promotes the development of a shinier coat and can prevent dry skin.1,2,3
Protein works to help your dog stay strong and healthy, as it goes directly into feeding your dog’s muscles to keep them physically fit as well as powers their immune system to protect them from other ailments. Protein is one of the most important parts of your dog’s diet when they don’t have cancer, and becomes significantly more important if they have been diagnosed. Cancerous tumors will feed off of the protein that your pet's body develops on its own—their muscles. So feeding a pup with cancer more protein is a requirement for them to be able to fight off the growth.1,3
Berries come packed with plenty of antioxidants, especially dark-colored berries because of the anthocyanins—pigments that give the darker color. Blueberries also contain ellagic acid which has properties that block the metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. Blackberries have been ranked at the top of the USDA’s list of most antioxidant foods in the United States.1-6
Broccoli was designed to be incredibly healthy, and thank goodness for that too. Due to a bit of human intervention in the domestication of a wild cabbage, we developed one of the most healthy and impactful vegetables available. Broccoli is full of fiber, calcium, potassium, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin D. It comes with anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-allergy properties. Not to mention that broccoli also contains multiple biochemicals that have been proven to help support the immune system as well as fight against cancer.1-6
Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene and vitamin A, which act as antioxidants. Like berries, antioxidants from pumpkins help prevent threats caused by free radicals, which can include cardiovascular and inflammatory disease, cataracts, and cancer.1-3,6
Turmeric is gradually becoming a more widely known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient in the health food space, for both people and animals. It contains curcumin, which can work as a cancer preventative as well as treatment. Curcumin interferes with cancer development, and when turmeric and coconut oil are combined it can increase the body’s absorption of curcumin.1,3,4,6
Coconut oil is a great healthy fatty acid source for dogs, and many pups enjoy the taste. Natural fats can help your dog process nutrients from other foods, and coconut oil in particular contains plant sterols, which can mimic cholesterol and aid in blocking the absorption of cholesterol in the body. Coconut oil can also be applied to your dog’s skin as a moisturizer that can help protect against cancerous growths and clear up precancerous lesions. Its antibacterial properties have also been shown to kill off certain bacteria linked with higher rates of developing specific cancers.1,2,3
Apples are equipped with the ability to starve cancer cells with a 60% response rate in tests on dogs. They have an antiangiogenic property that stops new blood vessels from forming out of existing blood vessels—which is a common way that cancer can develop into tumors.1,4,6
Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients: vitamins B6, C, and D, minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, copper, and thiamine. And they are a great source of beta-carotene, which has been shown to lower the risk of certain cancers.2,4
Beets are rich in folic acid, potassium, fiber, and beta-carotene. The fiber content is high and is insoluble, which makes the body’s detoxifying process more efficient and supports healthy liver functions. Along with the beta-carotene, beets have the potential to prevent certain cancers from forming while boosting overall health.2
Asparagus is a great addition to your pet's diet if you know that they are regularly exposed to carcinogens, such as from cleaning products or lawn care practices. This is because asparagus contains a detoxifying compound called glutathione, which has the ability to break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds so they have a less damaging impact on the body.1,6
Green beans are a great source of vitamin A, C, and K, calcium, copper, fiber, folic acid, iron, magnesium, manganese, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, protein, riboflavin, thiamine and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also an excellent source of beta-carotene and—while not as great a source as other vegetables on this list—have cancer-preventing properties because of it. Aside from cancer prevention, the amount of health benefits in green beans makes them worth the addition.4
A variety of studies have shown that the flavonoids anthocyanidin and proanthocyanidin have the ability to reduce a tumor’s ability to multiply cells in the body. Pomegranates are a great source of ellagic acid and those flavonoids, which makes them a great choice for limiting tumor growth.4
This list only covers the information we know today and what is available from trustworthy sources. And if you’re interested in how best to share these foods with your pet, you can take a look at our post on safe and unsafe fruits and vegetables to share with your dog.
Any time you are considering adding a new ingredient to or changing your dog’s diet, be sure to check with your vet about how to introduce the change properly and the amounts that are safe for your dog to consume. Every dog is different, and the best source for health guidance on your own dog will be the vet that knows them best.