It is a situation that is an unfortunate reality for many of us dog owners: being told by the vet that your dog has cancer is one of the hardest things to bear. But, after the tests, the diagnosis and the start of treatment, it is also our responsibility to ensure our furry friend still enjoys the best quality of life possible. A large component of that comfort is provided by the food they eat, and knowing how to manage digestive discomfort caused by both the cancer and the possible treatment is crucial. Additionally, there are numerous foods and supplements available that can help the dog fight the disease and recover faster. In this article, we will examine how you can turn your dog’s diet into a potent weapon in the fight against cancer.
Why Do I Need to Change My Dog’s Diet?
There are several reasons why a dog will need to be fed an altered diet whilst they are dealing with the effects of cancer. Primarily, it is because the animal’s immune system will be struggling to properly function, requiring lots of additional resources as it attempts to combat the cancerous cells. Additionally, growing new tissue will require lots of energy, making the dog appear subdued or even exhausted. The main way in which we can help our animals fight the disease is to make sure they get plenty of proteins in their food, meaning lots of meat is needed. It is also worth pointing out that cereals and grains should be avoided wherever possible, as whilst dogs are capable of digesting them, their stomachs are not specifically evolved to do this. Thus, when coupled with the stresses placed on the animal by cancer (and by treatments such as chemotherapy), this can result in significant digestive discomfort and vomiting, which will only worsen their condition. Additionally, the high levels of carbohydrates present in grains can, in fact, assist the cancer in growing tumors at a faster rate. Other vegetables can be included in their food without risk though, meaning that meals can be bulked out or kept relatively bland (so as to promote ease of digestion) without too much difficulty. Dried foods can also be used to help the dog keep their meals down, though it should be remembered that these will commonly be devoid of much of the nutritional value that can be found in wet or homemade meals. For this reason, many of us will look to use supplements to meet all of our pet’s dietary needs.
What About Supplements?
One of the main supplement groups that will be especially useful for dogs with cancer is omega oils. Whilst these oils can be commonly found in fish, they are available in a concentrated pill form, which allows us to control exactly how much our dog is getting. Omega oils are very important for maintaining the dog’s immune system and ensuring that its coat retains its glossiness. They also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve a lot of the pain and discomfort caused by larger tumors. Another vital supplement is a good multivitamin. Whilst they are commonly thought of as being targeted at younger and more elderly animals, a vitamin supplement can help correct imbalances and nutritional deficiencies that fighting cancer can cause. Vitamins are also essential for shoring up the immune system – making sure that it is best placed to fight against both the cancer and any secondary conditions that may arise. The tablets will also usually contain numerous essential minerals (such as iron) that the dog needs in order to keep its organs functioning properly. When the animal is feeling ill and is reluctant to eat much, a pill disguised in a small snack can provide a way to make sure that they are getting the right level of sustenance.
Consult Your Vet
However, it is always wise to make sure to consult with your vet before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, as this may have an unintended impact on both the dog’s stress levels and any treatment that may be taking place. The vet can also provide good recommendations for appropriate varieties of food and supplements that owners have used in the past with good results. It is also worth bearing in mind that as the dog’s condition improves, so too can its diet, with normal feeding being reintroduced slowly so as not to cause unwanted digestive upset.