Raw dog food for dogs with cancer – Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?
I recently learned that raw dog food isn’t ideal for most dogs affected by cancer.
When a dog’s body is weakened by cancer, she has a hard time digesting raw cuts of meat and raw foods in general, according to Dr. Demian Dressler’s Dog Cancer Blog.
Several light bulbs went off in my head when he mentioned one of the symptoms of doing poorly on raw when affected by cancer is diarrhea. My cancer pup Missy has had some sporadic runny poops these last few weeks before I learned her cancer was back. Her cancer has returned 3 years after the first tumor was removed.
Is it OK to feed raw dog food to a dog with cancer?
If your dog has cancer, Dr. Dressler’s advice is to lightly cook your dog’s food.
Taking Dr. Dressler’s advice to heart, I’ve had to slightly adjust meal prep in our pack from filling two bowls with cuts of raw meat to just one. Since my other dog Buzz is healthy, he has no trouble digesting his raw food and continues eating and thriving on it.
My cancer patient Missy on the other hand now needs to have her food lightly cooked. Interestingly enough, the diarrhea she was having stopped almost as soon as I began feeding her cooked food, so Dr. Dressler seems to be on to something!
Food pic (above): Buzz’s raw food bowl contains a turkey neck, ground turkey, calf liver, some of Missy’s puréed veggies, turmeric past and air-dried green tripe. Missy’s bowl contains lightly cooked ground turkey, cooked calf liver, boiled/puréed veggies, cottage cheese and turmeric paste.
What foods to give dogs that have cancer
The base of Missy’s meals still consist of muscle meat and organs, but instead of being offered raw, I now cook them on low heat in a pan. Following Dr. Dressler’s advice, I also started giving her a good amount of boiled, puréed, non-starchy veggies with each meal.
I learned that carrots and potatoes need to be avoided as they are high in carbs which turn into sugar, which in turn feed the cancer. I’m being very strict about following that rule.
I never believed in feeding potatoes either way, but the pups DID get some carrots every now & then, which is now a thing of the past. So for the past 2 weeks, Missy’s been having a mix of broccoli, brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms, and totally loves it.
According to Dr. Dressler, other veggies that can be fed to cancerous dogs are:
- cooked mung beans
- and red & yellow bell peppers
I’ll be alternating between those.
I also learned that brown rice is an excellent source of energy for canine cancer patients. Unlike potatoes and carrots which are simple carbs, brown rice is a complex one, meaning it’s higher in nutrients and fiber, and takes longer to digest.
Its bran (the outer layer) is also rich in polysaccharides which have cancer-fighting properties, so I AM essentially breaking my very own rule of not feeding grains. Then again, my grain-free diet conviction is geared towards healthy, cancer-free dogs, so I’ll trust the professional’s opinion on brown rice being beneficial for dogs challenged by cancer.
In case you’re wondering, Buzz is not getting any brown rice with his raw meals. I have a feeling that grains might have been an underlying cause of his frequent ear infections he suffered from prior to eating raw cuts of meat. Since he hasn’t had a SINGLE ear infection since eating raw, I’m not taking any chances of reintroducing those.
What about raw meaty bones?
Missy still needs calcium to maintain her muscular strength and keep her teeth in great shape, but cooking her raw meaty bones is not an option as they would get brittle and possibly wreak havoc on her internal organs. So far, I’ve found two good solutions that agree with her body and don’t cause diarrhea:
1) Hold the raw meaty bone under warm, running water for several minutes until it has warmed up, then offer it to her whole as usual.
2) Replace the raw meaty bone with cottage cheese, which is a great source of calcium, and which Dr. Dressler recommends to be included in every meal.
While I have been giving her a tablespoonful of cottage cheese at mealtime, I’ve also still given her 2 raw meaty bones each week as I still want her to experience the oral benefits that come with eating them.
See my post: How to safety feed your dog raw bones.
Stepping my dog’s nutrition up one more notch
During the duration of Missy’s cancer treatment, I’ll be stepping her nutritional needs up one more notch by getting her a customized meal plan and homeopathic preparations from a local homeopathic veterinarian, Dr. Charles Loops, who’s practiced alternative medicine for over 20 years.
I’ve heard great things about him and one of my favorite holistic veterinarians, Dr. Karen Becker, even interviewed him on the use of nosodes in lieu of vaccinations. What are the odds of him living in our neck of the woods?!
I will add that 95% of his consultations are conducted over the phone, so if you don’t live here in North Carolina and are interested in getting his opinion on a medical issue your pup may be experiencing, you can easily do so.
My goal in looking into this alternative approach is twofold. I want to maximize Missy’s life expectancy as well as offer her the best quality of life I can.
I realize that Missy may succumb to this second tumor. However, I’ve heard stories of cancerous dogs supplemented with homeopathic remedies whose life expectancies drastically exceeded those predicted by their oncologists. So I’m definitely giving this alternative treatment approach a try.
Until then, we’ll continue feeding Dr. Dressler’s cancer diet of lightly cooked protein, boiled & puréed veggies, brown rice and cottage cheese.
P.S. I’d like to thank That Mutt’s community for taking an interest in Missy’s cancer diagnosis and expressing support by wishing us well. You guys rock!
A special thank you to reader Chris who pointed me in the direction of the Dog Cancer Blog in his comment on my previous post for That Mutt! As you can tell, I followed your advice and successfully implemented Dr. Dressler’s feeding suggestions for dogs with compromised immune systems 🙂
Barbara Rivers writes regularly for That Mutt about feeding her two boxer mixes a raw dog food diet. She is a blogger and dog walker and maintains the blog K9s Over Coffee.