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Nutrition Nuggets
 
 
Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

Feed the Patient - Starve the Cancer

November 02, 2012 / (2) comments

What I didn’t touch upon in that post was the role that home-prepared diets can play in feeding pets with cancer. In general, I worry about the long term effects of even relatively small nutrient deficiencies and excess with home-prepared meals for pets, but frankly, long-term isn’t a big concern with cancer patients. I’m focused on the here and now and am much more willing to recommend recipes for my clients who are up to the extra time and work involved in cooking for their pets.

Food prepared from scratch has some obvious benefits for pets that are very sick:

  • It is more palatable than commercially prepared foods and will usually tempt even the pickiest of pets to eat.
  • It can be easily modified as a pet’s condition changes.
  • Supplements and medications can be hidden in the especially delicious bits.
  • The extra work involved gives owners the opportunity to become very involved in their pet’s care at a time when many are looking for every opportunity to show their love.

Dr. Robert Silver discussed these very points in his Integrative Oncology lectures that I sat in on during the Wild West Veterinary Conference, and he made some specific recommendations regarding recipes for home-prepared cancer diets.

For Cats:

  • Protein 90%
  • Carbohydrates and Vegetables 10%
  • 30 mg/kg/day of DHA [fish oil]
  • Light Salt (KCL/NaCl) 1/16 tsp/10#/day
  • Calcium 10 mg/#/day
  • Feline multivitamin
  • Flax seed freshly milled ½-1 teaspoon per meal or flax seed oil ¼ tsp per meal

For Dogs:

  • Protein 50-75%
  • Carbohydrates 10%
  • Vegetables 15-40%
  • 30 mg/kg/day of DHA [fish oil]
  • Light Salt (KCL/NaCl) 1/16 tsp/10#/day
  • Calcium 10 mg/#/day
  • Canine multivitamin
  • Flax seed freshly milled ½-1 teaspoon per meal or flax seed oil ¼ tsp per meal

Dr. Silver explains the inclusion of large amounts of fish oil and flax seed in these diets in this way:

The two biologically-active fatty acids found in fish oil have been intensely studied for the past 10-15 years for their benefit to cancer patients.

The oncologist-recommended dose for fish oil for cancer, based upon research studies, is about 30 mg/kg/day of DHA. If extra EPA is given along with the DHA it will help to improve patient outcomes. This can be a high dose of fish oil for many patients. To avoid diarrhea or pancreatitis, the fish oil should be introduced gradually. The use of fiber, both insoluble and soluble, can help to dampen any GI reaction to that amount of oil. This author recommends flax seed meal to increase the fat content of the cancer diet with a healthy fatty acid, and alpha linolenic acid, [which] has some evidence of benefit to cancer patients. Fiber will bind carcinogens, the lignans in flax seed competitively bind with estrogen receptor sites, thus reducing the adverse impact of toxic estrogens that come in food, pesticides and from our own bodies.

It should go without saying that switching to diets like these needs to be done gradually and under a veterinarian’s supervision. If your "regular" veterinarian is not comfortable with you feeding a home-prepared diet to your pet with cancer, you can always bring a holistic vet onboard your pet’s healthcare team.

Dr. Jennifer Coates

Image: Homemade dog food by Canucklibrarian / via Flickr

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Comments  2

Leave Comment
  • Multivitamins
    11/02/2012 07:12am

    I'm guessing that critter multivitamins, like human multivitamins, do not necessarily contain exactly what is needed in specific cases. They should be scrutinized not only for ingredients, but also that they actually contain what is advertised.

  • Works to prevent cancer 2
    11/04/2012 01:51pm

    If home-prepared diets work to treat cancer patients, they also should work to prevent cancer. In fact, just maybe, commercial foods contribute to causing cancer! I agree that you should consult with licensed vets who treat holistically. I find getting home-prepared diet advice from conventional vets -- especially raw diets -- to be a waste of time. Most likely, all you will get is a finger-wagging lecture.

 



ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

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