It’s estimated that over 6 million dogs die from cancer each year. More than 1 in 2 dogs will get cancer at some point.
That means you need to do whatever you can to reduce your dog’s risk …
… but, in order to prevent it, first you need to know what causes cancer in dogs.
What Causes Cancer In Dogs?
In 1981 Oxford University epidemiologists Richard Doll and Richard Peto published a report for the US Congress called The Causes of Cancer. It said that about 1/3 of human cancers were due to smoking and 1/3 were due to diet. Viruses, genetics, environment and unknown causes made up the rest.
After reviewing this research, experts at the World Cancer Research Fund said that cancer’s a largely preventable disease: “The strongest evidence indicating that food and nutrition modify the risk of cancer comes from a combination of different types of epidemiological enquiry, supported by experimental findings, and by identification of plausible biological pathways.”
So, research shows diet can be a cause of cancer in humans and changing the diet can help prevent it.
But this is talking about people …
… what does it have to do with our dogs?
Carcinogens In Dog Food
Even though the US Congress hasn’t commissioned a study of the impact of diet on cancer in dogs, there are numerous other studies that show certain diets are a problem.
After all, the carcinogenic ingredients in human food may be in your dog’s food too, especially if he eats kibble.
The most common carcinogens in commercial dog food are aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are a type of mycotoxin that come from the Aspergillus species of fungus. This means they’re a type of mold and they are the cancer-causing ingredients in dog food.
Many commercial dog foods contain grains like corn, wheat and rice. Because of poor growing conditions or poor long term storage, this mold grows on these grains pretty quickly.
Think the cooking process gets rid of this mold? It doesn’t. Aflatoxins are very stable. The high temperatures needed to process them don’t even kill them.
Here are some of the foods that are most commonly contaminated with aflatoxins:
- Wheat cereals
- Brazil nuts
Aflatoxins are a major problem. They can bind with DNA and cause cell mutations. If your dog eats a small amount of aflatoxins over a long period time, he becomes a high risk for cancer.
And the presence of mycotoxins in dog food isn’t a secret. Dr Max Hawkins says, “The pet food industry is no stranger to recalled products due to mycotoxins … In December 2005, 76 dogs were killed from aflatoxin-contaminated pet food in the US, causing a large recall.”[Related: There have been a ton of product recalls for aflatoxins. Find them here]
Is Cost A Factor?
Low cost kibble is usually criticized for substandard quality. But is this low quality food the only food contaminated with aflatoxins?
A recent study proves that aflatoxins hide out in all kinds of kibble, no matter the price.
The results are alarming to say the least:
- Standard food – aflatoxins found in 100% of the foods tested
- Premium food – aflatoxins found in 100% of the foods tested
- Super premium food- aflatoxins found in 69.2% of the foods tested
More Than Just The Mold
While aflatoxins are an issue, they’re not the only one.
Holistic veterinarian Jodie Gruenstein DVM tells us that “It has become common knowledge that cancer feeds on carbs. Humans and pets do best on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets.”
Cancer cells need the glucose in starchy carbohydrates to grow and expand. These carbs also cause inflammation. And since carbs are cheaper than meat you can find a lot of them in all kibble … starches are also what hold kibble together.
If your dog has inflammation, his body’s working hard to fight it and so it can’t work as hard to fight off those invasive cancer cells.
Take away those pro-inflammatory carbs and you take away the cancer’s food source. You also give your dog the chance to fight back.
If what you’re feeding is what causes cancer in dogs, can a different diet be the solution?
Yes. Better food = better health.
According to holistic veterinarian Deva Khalsa VMD, “The National Cancer Institute says that many cancers can be prevented by making appropriate lifestyle changes. In fact, National Cancer Institute studies show that 35 percent of all human cancers can be attributed to dietary imbalances. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of all cancers are preventable by lifestyle choices.”
So changing your dog’s diet can reduce his risk of cancer.
The most important change is getting rid of the kibble. Switch to a raw, whole food diet. This includes muscle meat, bones, organs and some fruits and vegetables. This will provide the nutrients he needs to be healthy and eliminate those cancer-causing ingredients that are making him sick.
Also, make sure you use organic foods to eliminate the risk of pesticides, which can also cause cancer.[Related: Want to make your own raw food? Here are 10 simple rules to get started]
And don’t wait …
… Veterinarian Dr Tom Lonsdale, author of Raw Meaty Bones, says “While it is true that cancer mostly reveals itself in later life, it is generally believed that the first changes to DNA can occur many years earlier.” To have any impact, prevention needs to start early.
Foods To Fight Cancer
Along with the raw diet, you can add a variety of other foods and supplements to your dog’s diet to double up on the cancer-prevention.
Fight Back With Antioxidants
Antioxidants fight against the destructive forces of free radicals. When you add them to your dog’s diet, it’s easier for his system to locate and destroy the abnormal cells. It also gives his genes a chance to make proteins to repair damage done by carcinogens.
Natural sources of antioxidants:
- Green lipped mussels – a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes
- Phytoplankton (the king of antioxidants) – protects cells and helps remove toxins from the body
- Blueberries and raspberries
- Green, leafy vegetables – kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts
Supplements To Boost The Immune System
When you support your dog’s immune system you help him fight infection and fend off illness. This includes preventing and fighting cancer.
Echinacea and Astragalus both have powerful immune-boosting and antiviral properties. You can buy both at your local health food store. If you buy a supplement for humans, assume the dosage is for a 150lb human and adjust according to your dog’s weight.
CBD oil, a compound found in cannabis and hemp, boosts the immune system and helps kill cancer cells and slows and prevents tumor growth. It can also inhibit the production of inflammatory macrophages and decrease chronic inflammation which can compromise the immune system. It’s an antioxidant more powerful than vitamins C and E.
Turmeric is also a proven immune system booster. It contains curcumin, which has anti-angiogenic, antioxidant and antitumor properties. It can also:
- Decrease cell growth
- Decrease metastasis
- Cause cancer cell death
- Inhibit cancer cell division and growth
- Inhibit enzymes that help the spread of cancer
Dr Khalsa says, “Cancer in dogs doesn’t happen overnight. The beauty is that we do have answers to disease prevention easily within our reach. The time to start your dog on cancer preventing foods and supplements is right now!”
Remember that food is medicine, so if what causes cancer in dogs is poor diet, fight back with foods to help keep him healthy.