Nutrition for Dogs with Cancer – A Case of Managing Priorities

By Tess Thompson

If the reason behind cancer was known, it would help a great deal in finding a definite cure for the deadly disease. Apart from the fact that there are certain carcinogens that cause cancer, very little is known about what causes cancer. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the incidence of cancer in dogs and cats, causing a lot of concern to pet owners.

It has been proven that there is a high probability of some cancer cells present in a body at any given time. A perfectly conditioned and healthy body does not let cancer cells take root. It is the immune system of the body that inhibits these cancer-causing cells from multiplying.

When the body is unhealthy, the immune system triggers certain changes in the body to fight back. When cancer takes hold, the immune system causes certain symptoms to appear in the body. These symptoms are basically the body’s mechanism to fight back in order to self-heal.

As the cancer progresses, the self-healing process can go awry. The body cannot handle the constant battle. With the changing priorities of the body system, the normal growth processes are compromised. A diet that can strike a balance between attending to the cancer and the routine growth processes can be of great help in prolonging the life of a dog.

Your dog’s body requires a typical diet that is compatible to his structure and needs. It should be kept in mind that human food is not always good for the dog. Further, a dog who suffers from cancer requires specific nutrition that can allow him to fight back the disease and continue the other regular body functions.

It is too optimistic to believe that a diet can help in treating cancer in dogs, but a certain combination of nutrients can help in preventing cancer. It can also ensure a good quality of life if cancer has already set in.

Not much research has been conducted to understand how diets can manage or prevent cancer from occurring in dogs. Whatever research is available suggests that a diet that provides the following substances in sufficient quantities can be of help:

  • Vitamins C, D and E along with beta carotene and chemical compound of Vitamin A known as retinoids
  • Minerals like selenium, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, lead, iron, potassium, sodium, iodine and germanium
  • Enzymes that help in immunization against cancer causing pathogens - These are available as oral preparations.
  • Garlic - shown excellent results in fighting cancer in experiments performed on rodents
  • Green and black tea – believed to have cancer inhibiting properties and can be introduced in the dog meal


Cancer treatments and surgery can drain the energy out of a dog. If the energy levels dip to extremely low levels, a condition known as cancer cachexia occurs. One of the symptoms of liver cancer in dogs is a loss of appetite and extreme weight loss. Managing the amount of energy spent and supplementing with a healthy diet are the best ways of countering the condition.


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