In my last blog post here on That Mutt, I wrote about Dr. Demian Dressler’s cancer diet for dogs that I started preparing for my cancer pup Missy. It’s essentially a gently cooked diet that consists of:

  • lean meat or fish
  • boiled & puréed green leafy veggies
  • shiitake mushrooms
  • cottage cheese
  • brown rice

Our new homeopathic veterinarian Dr. Loops approved of most ingredients but did not recommend feeding brown rice (or any rice) to canine cancer patients or any dogs. That’s because it’s a carbohydrate which breaks down into sugar and feeds the cancer cells.

According to Dr. Dressler, the polysaccharides contained in the brown rice help fight cancer, but Dr. Loops does not share that opinion. Since Dr. Loops has had 22+ years of experience in the homeopathic field, I trust his judgment. I scratched brown rice off of Missy’s meal plan again.

While I was at Dr. Loops’ practice in Pittosboro, N.C., to pick up Missy’s homeopathic remedies, he reached into a freezer and pulled out a specific raw dog food brand to show me.

I immediately knew it was a brand called Darwin’s Natural Pet Products.

That’s because I used to feed a variety of their raw food formulas at the beginning of my raw feeding journey 3 years ago. I recognized their unique packaging – four 8 oz packages of raw dog food that can easily be detached along a perforated line.

Darwin's raw dog food cancer support formula Intelligent Design

Darwin’s raw dog food: Intelligent Design Cancer Support Formula

The cancer support formula is one of 4 prescription foods available at Darwin’s. The other 3 lines of their Intelligent Design Veterinary Meals are a kidney support formula ($7.90/lb), a liver support formula ($6.90/lb), and a joint & musculoskeletal support formula ($5.90/lb).

Since this is a prescription-only food, it wasn’t something I had fed my dogs before. The cancer support formula is high in protein, healthy fats, broccoli, medicinal mushrooms and berries. It is low in carbs and the cost is $5.90/lb. (Note that Darwin’s also sells general raw dog food formulas that do not require a prescription.)

Ingredients in Darwin’s Intelligent Design Cancer Support Formula:

  • Whitefish
  • Duck necks
  • Duck wings
  • Beef liver
  • Tripe
  • Broccoli
  • Duck hearts
  • Mushrooms (Maitake & Shiitake)
  • Whole dried eggs
  • Blackberries, Blueberries, Raspberries
  • Tomato powder
  • Egg whites
  • Cod liver oil
  • Spirulina
  • Fish oil
  • Sunflower seed oil
  • Turmeric
  • Oyster shell powder
  • Green tea
  • Vitamin E
  • Zinc proteinate
  • Thiamine mononitrate
  • Black pepper
  • L-arginine
  • Manganese proteinate
  • Iodine

After Dr. Loops’ office faxed the prescription over to Darwin’s, I called them to reactivate my account and place my new order. It’s $5.90/lb and I’m looking at a monthly order of 42 lb for Missy. I did not place a new order for my other dog Buzz because I can only afford this type of food for one dog. Right now that happens to be Missy.

Darwin's raw dog food cancer support

The main reason I had stopped feeding Darwin’s on a regular basis was their price. It was simply out of my budget to feed two large dogs commercial raw dog food, which is precisely why I started putting my own raw meals together.

See my post: DIY raw dog food recipes.

How to feed Darwin’s cancer support formula

All of Darwin’s food is ideally fed raw. However, it can be lightly cooked for picky eaters or those not doing well on 100% raw because of a compromised immune system. Since Missy seems to be doing better with lightly cooked food, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

How to feed Darwin's cancer support formula

Missy eats twice per day, and I’ve had to increase her food allowance from 8-9 oz per meal to 12 oz as she lost some weight over the course of the last few months. She’s since then put on 1 lb 2 oz, which made me very happy. She now weighs 49.2 lb, only a few ounces away from her target weight of 50 lb.

See our post: How much raw food to feed my dog?

When preparing her meals, I put the contents of several raw food packages into a pan and cook them for about 5 minutes on a low temperature setting.

Since this particular food contains green tripe, there is a good amount of smell that tries to linger in the kitchen (yuck). I’ve started to minimize the “aroma” by cooking larger batches at once. That way, I have several days’ worth of food and don’t have to stink up the house on a daily basis. Pus, it saves me time.

I found that covering the concoction with a lid works pretty well in order to contain the smell. Lighting some candles combined with opening the patio door for fresh air helps, too. #AnythingForTheDogs

Bathing the food package in hot water is another alternative, so is adding warm water to the raw food in the bowl. But those approaches haven’t been working as well for Missy as lightly cooking it.

How Darwin’s raw dog food is delivered

Darwin’s ships their food via UPS in thermo containers covered with dry ice.

I love that they include a pre-paid return UPS label for their packaging recycle program. All I have to do is tape the empty package back shut and drop it off at any UPS drop off location.

It’s usually free to do so, unless you’re taking it to a small mom & pop store. Those will typically charge a convenience fee for leaving UPS packages with them. I take mine to a small local business and pay $1 to drop it off with them.

What about the recent Darwin’s raw dog food recall?

One of my Instagram followers asked me if I’m concerned feeding Darwin’s line of Cancer Support after a recent recall of a few select lots of their ZooLogics and Natural Selections lines. I want to briefly address this. Let me preface it by saying I’m not concerned to be feeding their food and trust the company.

Darwin’s did issue a voluntary recall of select lots of their food because of possible contamination with salmonella bacteria. As far as I know, this was a first since they opened their doors for business in 2004.

While I don’t want to downplay the seriousness of any dog food recall, Darwin’s promptly addressed the situation by contacting all customers affected. We should also keep in mind that dogs’ stomachs are a lot more acidic than ours, meaning healthy dogs can handle bacteria such as salmonella without any problem whatsoever, unlike us humans.

Missy and Buzz at Veterinary Speciality Hospital

Raw food containing salmonella would only be an issue for dogs with compromised immune systems – such as Missy. It could also be an issue for humans handling raw food without taking a common sense hygienic approach.

Obviously not washing your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat could be an issue. Same goes for not washing counters and kitchen utensils that came in contact with it.

For dogs challenged with a compromised immune system, it’s generally a good idea to lightly cook the food as I pointed out earlier.

If you’re interested in reading the email founder Gary Tashjian’s sent to customers who had purchased the affected food, click the following link:

Either way, I don’t have any reason to doubt their overall quality and food safety as both Missy & Buzz have always thrived on their raw food. So far, Missy is doing very well on the Cancer Support formula. I have no doubt Darwin’s is doing everything humanly possible to maintain the high quality of their food.

Learn more about the prescription meals from Darwin’s HERE.

Do you have any questions about feeding a raw diet?

Let us know in the comments!

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.

Related posts:

Cancer trumped raw dog food

Primal patties pre-made raw dog food

Homemade raw dog food

Check back soon for an upcoming Q&A on That Mutt with the founder of Darwin’s, Gary Tashjian.