Cancer in Dogs

Your vet mentioned the dreaded c word – cancer. You are panicking, crying, feeling helpless and hopeless. You feel like it is the end of your best friend’s life – it very well could be. I’ve been there. It is a horrible, hopeless feeling to hear that your dog has cancer. Cancer in dogs (and people) is , unfortunately, all to common.

Actually, everyone has cancer in them everyday, but our immune systems destroy these cancer cells.

Cancer is a devastating disease, that many people fear, rightly so. Over 50% of dogs will get cancer in their lifetimes. Cancer is a leading killer of dogs. Cancer in dogs, like people, kills by invading or spreading to essential organs or nearby tissue. When cancer spreads that is called malignant, benign is cancer that does not spread.

There are many different types of cancer in dogs and even more treatments available. Cancer in dogs is treated much in the same way that it is in people. Many of the same chemotherapy drugs used to treat cancer in people is being used to treat cancer in dogs. However, unlike people, dogs do not experience the same side effects that people do with chemotherapy. The reason for this is because is people doctors try to use chemotherapy to cure a patient, however, generally doctors are not looking for a cure in dogs but they are looking for an improvement of symptoms or remission.

When it comes to cancer in dogs, your best line of defense is prevention. The immune system is what fights off cancer. A healthy diet, decreased exposure to toxins, minimal vaccines, stress management all help to strengthen the immune system.

But once your dog is diagnosed with cancer what can you do? There are natural, holistic things that you can do to help a dog that has cancer. Some of the things may only just give him a better quality of life and not destroy the cancer.

When dealing with cancer in dogs, a lot of times both a traditional and holistic treatment plan may be best. A lot of your options depend on what type of cancer your dog has, if it has metastasized (spread), if it can be surgically removed, and many other variables. But, since cancer in dogs is such as serious disease, why not have the best of both worlds and use both traditional and holistic medicine.

To start with, when dealing with cancer in dogs, it is very important to feed the best diet possible, hopefully home-made. This will provide a more nutritious meal, delivering high quality, fresh ingredients, that will help boost the immune system. The immune system is the fighting force behind destroying cancer cells. The ideal cancer diet is low in carbohydrates, moderate in fat, and high in high quality protein.

Foods that help fight cancer, and that you should feed in abundance are:

  • Fresh garlic (don’t feed garlic in abundance because it can cause anemia)
  • Fresh ginger root
  • Fresh parsley, basil, or oregano
Cruciferous vegetables like: cabbage, broccoli, kale contain phytonutrients that help protect dogs and to help fight cancer in dogs

Cruciferous vegetables like: cabbage, broccoli, kale contain phytonutrients that help protect dogs and to help fight cancer in dogs


  • All vegetables, especially shiitake mushrooms, brussels sprouts,leafy greens, cooked cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red and yellow peppers, and leeks
  • Tomatoes
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Yogurt, with no added sugars
  • Fish
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries
  • Apples
  • Whole grains
  • Wheat bran
  • Oatmeal, try not to use quick cook. Steel cut or rolled oats are the best.
  • Lentils
  • Brown rice
  • Cottage cheese
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Filtered water, ok not a food, but you want to avoid as many toxins in your dog’s diet if he has cancer.
  • Digestive enzymes, both with a meal and between meals

There are foods to avoid when dealing with cancer in dogs, too:

  • Commercially prepared foods
  • Sugar
  • Most grains
  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • White flour
  • Unsaturated fatty acids
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Margarine
  • Sausage, bacon, cold cuts
  • Bone meal

So, now that you know what to feed and what to avoiding feeding dogs that have cancer, what about supplements. There are a whole range of supplements that could be beneficial in dealing with cancer in dogs. It’s tough to pick and choose which one might be the best to try, so I highly recommend working with a holistic doctor. To search for one in your area, check out the AHVMA, the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are some of the recommended supplements to help with cancer in dogs:

  • Omega-3. Omega-3’s help to suppress tumor growth. It’s hard to get the recommended amounts of Omega-3 for cancer in dogs, since it is such a high amount. But, try to aim for these daily dosages: up to 10 pounds, 1,000 – 2,000 mg; 10 – 35 lbs, 3,000 – 4,000 mg; 35 – 60 lbs, 6,000 – 9,000 mg; over 60 lbs, 10,000 – 12,000 mg. Start slowly when adding fish oils, it may cause diarrhea or pancreatitis.
  • Tumeric or curcumin, may inhibit the growth of cancer and increase cancer cell death.
  • Beta-Glucan, stimulates the immune system to create tumor death.
  • CoQ-10, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent cancer cell DNA reproduction and decrease side effects from traditional treatments.
  • Vitamin C and E
  • Artemisinin, may help to control cancer growth
  • Transfer factors, used to stimulate the immune system.
  • DMG, improves immune system response.
  • Super, green foods, these include: alfalfa, barley grasschlorophyll, chlorella, kelp, spirulina (blue-geen algae). Green foods offer a variety of benefits to dogs with cancer.
  • IP-6 (Inositol Hexaphosphate), icreases toxicity of natural killer cells, stimulates tumor suppressor genes (therefore reducing tumor growth and spread), inhibits tumor blood vessel formation.
  • Certain mushrooms, may have anti-tumor capabilities. Remember not all mushrooms are safe, please work with your holistic vet if you want to use mushrooms as part of your therapy.
  • Astragalus, an excellent immune stimulant.
  • Pau d’Arco, a powerful immune stimulating herb.
  • Apocaps, is a supplement created by Dr. Demain Dressler that is designed to help normalize apoptosis (programmed cell death) and increase quality of life.

There are so many more possibly helpful supplements when dealing with cancer in dogs.

Some supplements are not recommended to be given for certain types of cancers or with each other and can actually worsen things. I can not stress enough the importance of working with a holistic vet when dealing with cancer!

Be careful when buying supplements. You want to do your research and make sure the company is reputable. There are many supplements out there that just are not what they claim.

There are so many options available when dealing with cancer and I know how overwhelming you may be feeling. Two excellent books to read are:

  • Amazon Image
  • Amazon Image

Both of these books are filled with tons of useful information on dealing with cancer in dogs. There is so much to know about: different treatment options available, supplements, what to feed, and more. Both of these books go into detail exactly how different things help with the treatment of cancer in dogs, more than I could ever cover here in depth. I read both of these books when I was dealing with cancer in one of my dogs and they were both so invaluable. Plus, they helped to show me how to do things better with my current dogs, in hopes of lowering their chance of getting cancer or hopefully preventing them from getting cancer.

Here is a “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity” by Dr. DemianDressler, DVM. The excerpt is about the dog cancer diet. The dog cancer diet gives you helpful information about how to help your dog fight cancer with food.

If you have a dog with cancer, it is recommended not to vaccinate your dog for anything. This is because vaccinations are intended for healthy animals only and vaccines over stimulate the immune system. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate can be an incredibly personal decision and a matter of following the law. Please talk to your holistic vet to determine what is best for your dog and situation before deciding to vaccinate or not vaccinate.

You want to limit as much exposure to toxins as possible when your dog has cancer. We are bombarded with toxins everyday of our lives. I would try to refrain from using traditional, chemical cleaning supplies. Also, talk to your vet about the use of heartworm and flea/tick preventatives. And, I would not use any type of chemicals on your yard. I would invest in a good air purifier.

There are some canine cancer support groups. Here are just a few:

Here are other websites that offer excellent information for dealing with cancer in dogs:

Good luck in your fight against cancer in dogs, I know how scary and overwhelming you are feeling. They say knowledge is power and now you have some knowledge to help you and your dog fight the best fight possible against this disease!



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