Cancer is a devastating disease that affects millions of dogs around the world each year. While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer in dogs, there are a variety of nutrients and ingredients that could potentially help protect against the disease.
What is Cancer?
Cancer occurs when cells in the body start to grow and multiply uncontrollably, forming a mass or what we commonly call a tumor. This uncontrolled growth can occur due to various factors, including genetic mutations, exposure to environmental toxins, inflammation, and a weakened immune system. Over time, these cells continue to rapidly divide and can then invade tissues and spread to other parts of the body, thereby resulting in the spread of cancer.
Photo by National Cancer Institute
How Do Dogs Get Cancer?
There is no single cause of cancer in dogs, but there are several factors that can contribute to its development. One essential aspect to consider is the role of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cancer formation.
Reactive oxygen species are molecules that are naturally produced in the body as a result of various cellular processes. They play important roles in normal cell functions, such as immune responses and cell signalling. However, when the production of reactive oxygen species exceeds the body's capacity to neutralize them, it can lead to a condition known as oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species and the body's ability to counteract their damaging effects. When reactive oxygen species accumulate, they can cause damage to DNA, proteins, and other cellular structures. Over time, this damage can disrupt normal cell function and increase the risk of cancer development.
Several factors can contribute to oxidative stress and the production of reactive oxygen species such as:
- Exposure to pollutants
- Chemical exposures
- Poor diet
- Chronic inflammation
- Weakened immune systems
While it's not possible to completely eliminate the production of reactive oxygen species, there are ways to help reduce oxidative stress and minimize the risk of cancer. Antioxidants play a crucial role in combating the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species. These compounds help neutralize the harmful molecules and prevent them from causing further damage to cells.
Including antioxidant-rich ingredients in your dog's diet can help support their overall health and potentially reduce the risk of cancer.
10 Nutrients to Support Cancer Prevention in Dogs
Aside from ensuring a complete and balanced diet and healthy exercise, additional nutrients may be important for supporting cancer prevention. Here’s a list of ten nutrients that could be helpful in preventing cancer in your pup:
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect against free radical damage, which can cause cancer. Some of the most common antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as selenium, zinc, and beta-carotene. These can be found in various fruits and vegetables, including berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, and carrots.
2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for overall health and have been shown in humans to have anti-inflammatory effects that could help protect against cancer. These fatty acids can be found in fish, such as salmon and tuna, as well as in flaxseed and hemp seed oils.
Curcumin is a compound found in turmeric, which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies in humans have shown that curcumin may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells. You can add turmeric to your dog's diet with our Coconut Chicken Dinner!
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help improve gut health and boost the immune system, which could potentially help protect against cancer. However, the research on probiotics is still relatively new, and its direct effects on cancer prevention have not been heavily investigated as of yet.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for your pup’s overall health, and some studies have suggested that it may help protect against certain types of cancer, including lymphoma. You can find vitamin D in fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, as well as in egg yolks and fortified foods.
Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables, including apples and broccoli. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that administration of quercetin was able to stop cancerous cells from growing by inducing cell death. Therefore, quercetin may be beneficial in preventing cancer. You can add quercetin to your dog’s diet with our Beef & Broccoli meal.
Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes, watermelon, and other red fruits and vegetables. It has antioxidant properties and may help protect against certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer. Our Italian Beef Pasta contains high levels of natural lycopene from our pureed tomatoes!
Polysaccharides, which are a type of carbohydrate, have shown anti-tumor effects in previous studies. Ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms that have high polysaccharide content are gaining a lot of attention for their potential anti-cancer properties!
9. Gingeros & Shogaols
These compounds are the active nutrients of ginger, a commonly used natural product for cancer prevention in many cultures worldwide. These compounds have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Some studies have suggested that ginger may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells. You can add ginger to your dog's diet using our delicious Beef & Broccoli meal!
Lutein is a carotenoid that is found in many vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, spinach, squash, and cabbage. Studies in humans have shown that lutein supplementation resulted in reduced cancer risk for cancers of the breast, kidney, and bladder. You can find ingredients rich in lutein in all of our Tom&Sawyer recipes for dogs!
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent cancer in dogs, incorporating these ingredients and nutrients into your dog's diet can help improve their overall health and reduce their risk of developing cancer. Always talk to your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet or adding supplements, especially if your dog has any existing health conditions or is undergoing cancer treatment.
It's important to note that while antioxidants and other nutrients can play a role in cancer prevention, they should not be seen as a standalone treatment or a substitute for veterinary care. A balanced and nutritious diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary check-ups are all critical components of maintaining your dog's overall health and reducing their risk of cancer.
And, while the development of cancer is complex and multifactorial, incorporating antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and immune-boosting ingredients into your dog's diet may help support their overall health and reduce their risk of cancer.
Written by: Hannah Godfrey
BSc.H. | MSc. Animal Nutrition
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