by Amber Keiper
“Dinner’s ready!” mom yells from the kitchen.
In rushes her twin sons as they wrestle for a seat closest to the window. Dad, already seated, warns, “Knock it off boys.”
As the family settles down for dinner, mom asks, “Where’s Rocky? He usually beats you boys to the punch.” The twins shrug and continue eating.
Mom calls out again, “Raww-kee…dinn-ner!!”
A few minutes later, Rocky, the family dog ambles slowly into the kitchen. Their normally enthusiastic golden retriever is not at all his usual self. With a sigh, Rocky plops down next to his food bowl and completely ignores his dinner.
“Wow, that’s weird,” dad remarks. “Rocky’s usually the first one done with dinner. What’s up little buddy?”
Concerned, mom replies, “We should probably take him to the vet. He’s been acting pretty sluggish lately, and it’s not normal for him to not want to eat. Something must be wrong.”
Astute dog moms and dads can tell when their pets are not feeling like themselves. While there are many different reasons why our pets may suddenly feel lethargic or lose their appetite, in many cases, this is often a sign that something is wrong. Our pets can’t tell us with words when they’re feeling sick or sad. They speak with actions and behaviors…and we as the guardians of our companion animals must remember to take notice when our pets are “acting out” or simply not behaving like their usual selves.
In the case of Rocky, various tests were conducted to determine the cause of his lack of appetite and lethargy. In the end, poor Rocky was diagnosed with the beginning stages of liver cancer.
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, one in three dogs will be affected by canine cancer. Other reports state that 50% of dogs over the age of 10 will develop some form of cancer in their lives.
The most common cancers that affect our pets (in no particular order) are:
Mammary Gland Tumors (breast cancer)
Mast Cell Tumors (skin cancer)
The “C” Word
It can undoubtedly be quite devastating to hear that your beloved pooch has been diagnosed with cancer. What will become of your poor pet? Will he suffer? Is there anything that can be done to save him?
BARF World’s complete & balanced BARF Diet® patties – made from fresh, whole food ingredients.
The good news is that we are not completely helpless in the fight against cancer. There are things that we as pet parents can do to help slow the progression of cancer.
First off – eliminate those grain-based food and treats. Here’s why: the body converts carbohydrates to sugar, which is what cancer cells thrive on.
The best diet for dogs with cancer is instead a meat-based, whole food diet. This type of diet is MOST effective when it is fed RAW.
The BARF Diet® is exactly that! Not only is the BARF Diet® a high protein, low-carb diet, it’s also rich in active enzymes and phytonutrients – all of which help improve the digestive and immune system. Plus, it also contains some amazing cancer-fighting ingredients. (To read more on this, read our previous article, “Great Foods For Cancer Prevention.”)
Did You Know?
Chemotherapy can greatly depress your pet’s immune system, which can make your pet more susceptible to illness and infection. This is why many holistic veterinarians will often try other, less invasive methods, before resorting to chemo or radiation therapy.
A strong and healthy immune system is your pet’s best defense when battling cancer and is especially important if you decide to opt for chemotherapy treatment. This is why diet is so important – it’s the foundation for good health for your pet!
In addition to a good diet, it’s important to include the right supplements to your pet’s dietary regimen for additional support.
Did you know that besides supporting your pet’s immune system and digestive process, enzymes also help the body combat cancer? Enzymes break down the protective protein shield (called fibrin), which surrounds cancer cells. This allows the immune system to properly identify the offending cells and destroy them. Now that’s teamwork!
Our pets obtain enzymes in one of two ways. The first is from the food they consume. Enzymes are naturally present in raw food, but are destroyed once food is cooked.
This brings us to the second way that our pets obtain enzymes. When the food your pet eats lacks the vital enzymes needed for digestion, the body (specifically the liver, pancreas and kidneys) must work to produce those enzymes necessary for the metabolic process. While this may sound like a good thing, it does have one serious drawback: the body actually has a *limited* supply of enzymes available to it. Once that pool has been depleted, that’s it. The body simply cannot produce anymore, thus negatively affecting your beloved pet’s metabolic process.
This is why we recommend feeding a natural, raw food diet vs. standard dry and canned pet foods or even home-cooked diets. Providing the body with enzyme-rich foods ensures the body’s own level of enzymes (which it may need to pull from time to time) doesn’t run out. It also doesn’t hurt to include an additional enzyme supplement to your pet’s meals.
Dogs with cancer often suffer from digestive problems and can experience reoccurring symptoms of diarrhea and/or vomiting, especially when undergoing chemotherapy treatments. It’s important to ensure that a natural probiotic supplement is added to your pet’s daily meal regimen whenever there is gastric distress. Probiotics help restore the natural balance in the intestinal tract while helping to relieve inflammation. They also ensure that the body properly absorbs as many nutrients as possible from the food being consumed. This is especially important for pets that are suffering from cancer-induced weight.
While the subject of using omega-3 fatty acids (EFA) to prevent or slow the spread of cancer is still very much under debate, there are some studies that have been conducted over the years that lead us to believe that the above statement may be true in both pets and humans.
According to the American Cancer Society, “Some studies in animals have found that fish oils rich in omega-3 fatty acids suppress the formation and growth of some types of cancer.” In humans – specifically women – a study conducted over the course of 18 years concluded that while the intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish didn’t necessarily reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, it did show signs of slowing the progression of the disease.
Then there is the more recent 2010 study, where a group of 55 people who were pre-diagnosed with colon polyps (which eventually progressed to cancer), were treated using EFA supplements. After six months of treatment, the group that was given the supplement had fewer, and smaller, polyps than the group that was given a placebo.
Besides the growing evidence that EFAs may be beneficial for dogs with cancer, there are numerous other benefits of using an omega-3 supplement for your pet. Omega-3 is also good for eyes, heart, skin, and coat health as well as to help relieve inflammation (perfect for pets with allergies or arthritis). That’s why adding a high-quality omega-3 supplement to your pet’s daily meals is a good move on your part!
If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, remember that you are not alone. There are various ways for you and your pooch to find the support you need to get through this difficult time and find a way through the chaos.
Online support groups on Facebook or Yahoo! groups offer some great insight into the disease as well as the various treatment options. The people you will find in these support groups are other pet parents like you that are currently struggling with cancer in their own pets as well as those that have seen a light at the end of the tunnel and can offer you some guidance in regards to the proper course of action to take.
Then of course there’s your holistic veterinarian. Check out the American Holistic Medical Association (AHVMA) website for a list of holistic veterinarians in your area. If you don’t have one nearby, you can always begin with a holistic vet that does phone consultations, like Dr. Cathy Alinovi.
Dr. Cathy is the owner of Hoofstock Veterinary Service in Pine Village, Indiana as well as Hoopeston Veterinary Service in Hoopeston, Indiana. Some of her clients either live too far to travel to her clinic, or may not be able to travel so she offers her consultation services by phone. Dr. Cathy always looks to nutrition as the first step to treating any disease and advocates a natural, raw food diet to her clients. In addition, she believes in treating pets using non-invasive treatments first but understands that conventional veterinary medicine does have it’s place and is willing to recommend the best method of treatment based on the animal’s specific situation. You can reach Dr. Cathy’s phone consultation services by calling (765) 714-5973 (make sure to mention that Amber from BARF World sent you!).
Finally, the team here at BARF World is always available to offer you their support. Give us a call toll-free at 1-866-282-2273 and speak to one of our raw pet food specialists.
National Canine Cancer Foundation. The National Canine Cancer Foundation, Inc., n.d. Web. 5 March 2013.
“Three Common Canine Cancers.” DogChannel.com. I-5 Publishing, LLC, 2 August 2011. Web. 5 March 2013.
“Great Foods For Cancer Prevention.” The Intelligent Pet. BARF World Inc., 10 November 2010. Web. 5 March 2013.
“Chemotherapy and Your Immune System.” Everyday Health. Everyday Health Media LLC, 9 February 2010. Web. 5 March 2013.
“Dog Cancer Diet And Natural Supplements.” Natural Dog Health Remedies. Natural-Dog-Health-Remedies.com, n.d. Web. 5 March 2013.
Laredo, Mary. “Enzyme Therapy for Cancer Prevention And Treatment.” Natural News Network. Truth Publishing International LTD, 4 January 2008. Web. 5 March 2013.
Mueller, Robert. Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret. Danville: BARF World Inc. and Robert Muller, 2007. Print.
“Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Inc., 17 January 2013. Web. 5 March 2013.
Amber Keiper is the Marketing Assistant and Raw Diet Educator for BARF World Inc.. She and her husband have two former rescue animals that are now healthy and proud “BARF brats” – a terrier mix named Chewbacca (“Chewy”) and a tabby mix named Chiquita (“Chiqui”). For more articles like these and to learn more about the benefits of raw food for your pets, sign up for The Intelligent Pet monthly e-zine at www.barfworld.com.