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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My good friend's lab has recently been diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. She has some tumors removed from her stomach. I don't know much more than that. I've read that a if a homemade diet isn't an option, grain free is the way to go. I'm looking for ideas from anyone who has gone this route with a dog with cancer. I have a huge natural food store in my area that I'm headed to today. I want to bring Maxine (the Lab) some healthier treats for Thanksgiving. Anyone have any opinions of commercial grain free foods or treats?? All input is welcome!

Her owners live very busy lives and don't have the time to prepare a homemade diet so I know they will go the commercial route.

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I've tried 3 different grain-free foods for Chili, EVO (Innova), Instinct (Nature's Variety), and Orijen. Mainly she eats the Instinct, I give her Orijen when the store is sold out of the other. She does very well on these. I tried her on the EVO, but it made her itchy. This doesn't mean it will make your friend's dog itchy, just that it wasn't suitable for Chili.

When Rainbow (age 12) was diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma in mid-February, the vet estimated she'd have about 4-6 weeks to live if I didn't do surgery (if I did do surgery she was given about 6 months, so in view of her age I opted not to put her through it). I switched her to a homemade grain-free low carb diet and she did very well on it. She attended the Canadian National specialty towards the end of May and looked and showed great. You couldn't tell she was sick until the last few days when she went downhill very rapidly. I sent her to the bridge in June, and when I brought her in the vet commented on how good she looked, that she hadn't lost much weight or muscle mass and her coat was still shiny.

This site has some good links to articles about cancer and diet.

13,095 Posts
My good friend's lab has recently been diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. She has some tumors removed from her stomach. I don't know much more than that. I've read that a if a homemade diet isn't an option, grain free is the way to go.[/b]
Iams nutrition symposium reveals diet connection to major illnesses
"A study by Glenna Mauldin DVM, MS, DACVIM of Louisiana State University showed that animals suffering with cancer, receiving radiation, and fed a high protein, high fat diet maintained body weight better than those fed typical diets"

Integrative Treatment of Cancer in DogsR.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhD
Associate Professor of Neurology & Neurosurgery
Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
"Cancer cells utilize carbohydrates for fuel and compete for the body for amino acids. However, these cancer cells do not metabolize fats. Some data suggests that high fat diets can help the patient overcome the effects of cancer and even reduce cancer expansion

... For those who can not cook for their dog, a commercial food should be of good quality, moderate protein (18-22%) content, low carbohydrate (3-13%) content, and high fat (55-60%) content. One of these is Mighty Dog Bacon & Cheese dog food. Your veterinarian can assist you in finding a food which fits these criteria and is satisfactory to your dog. "

When Cancer Strikes: Prepare Ahead for Decisions Based on Fact, Not Fear
"Diet is an important part of cancer treatment. Research indicates that simple carbohydrates and sugars fuel cancer growth. Since the primary ingredient in almost all kibbles is grains, a modification in a kibble-fed dog's diet is probably in order if he's diagnosed with cancer. A prescription cancer diet, Hill's n/d, is available in canned form. Or you can prepare a grain-free diet for your dog at home. "

If you do some in depth investigating you will find Cancer patient do better on a high protein, high fat diet , thereby being low in charbohydrates. While on would thing grain free dry food would be low charbohydrate it is not . Carbohydrates are required, specifical starches, to form kibble. It is their main function. The fact they provide some nutrition is a bonus. What "no grain" manufactures do is substitute grain starch for a starch from another source like potatos or tapioca. If you follow the links you will see that these starch/charbohydrate sources are actual inferior to grain as it pertains to nutrition, Another considertion is cancer also involves a loss of appetite therefore ther is an advantage to make the food more paletable. Canned food is more paletable than dried it is is not constranted to have a given amount of charbohydrate as dry is so a much higher fat and protein content can be obtained. It is mostlikely a quality high protein and fat canned dog food is vastly superior than any dry food, and in the end grain free food in particular

Raw instinct
"Guaranteed Analysis
Crude Protein (min) 42.0%
Crude Fat (min) 22.0%
Crude Fiber (max) 3.2%
Moisture (max) 10.0%"

Crude Protein (min) 42 %
Crude Fat (min) 22 %
Crude Fiber (max) 2.5 %

Protein 42.0%
Fat 16.0%
Carbohydrate 18.0%

Are high protein , not so high fat and fairly low carb diet Orijen and Evo uses potato instead of grain, Raw Instinct uses tapioca . Take a look at the link to a comparison chart below and you will see that potatos and tapioca are nutritionally inferior to grains.

I do not know of any scientific study that suport the premise that grain free is better or healthier for canines whether a cancer patient or not. Keep in mind many advocates are not disinterested party. Holistic, grain free, ect are routinely sold at much higher profit margins than other diets. Also keep in mind that grain free food in general still have the\charbohydrate/protein and fat levels that can be found in more traditional food. So how do they keep those precentage while removing a "so called Filler" like grain

The way they do it is to use another high carbohydrate source that it not technically a grain but in most aspects add the same or less ancillary nutritional benefits of a grain ie. vitamins and minerals, and in many cause are worse for most canines than the grains they replace. Example include the starchy potato, and tapioca.

see the following links

Critique of Rate Your Dog Food List
"8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
(This is a myth. Corn is superior nutritionally to many other starch sources. All kibble-type foods require starch to bind the ingredients into a nugget. To make pet food choices based upon where the starch comes from is to miss the point of nutrition altogether. (Comparison Chart)"

the source used for the chart is USDA, National Agricultural Library - Food & Information Nutrition Center. A quick look and one can easily see that main of the grain substitutes are vastly inferior to grains

Corn and Soy
"Aside from the natural nutrition whole corn and soy provide - essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, complex carbohydrates, fiber - they help permit the manufacture of a dry diet. The starch in grains gelatinizes around the meat ingredients shaping the nugget, changing starch to a digestible form, and permitting the meat to be dried into a shelf stable form. Whether corn is used for this purpose or any other grain such as wheat, rice, barley, potato, etc., makes little difference if diets are being rotated as they should be.

Don't be fooled by the various marketing campaigns to demonize certain grains (such as corn) in order to increase the sales of products that do not have the boogeyman ingredients. The pet food market place is highly competitive and it is common for companies to pander to myths about boogeyman ingredients in order to gain sales: "corn is evil; buy my product because it contains not corn." "

Raw Deception
"For example, there is a new wave of “grain-free” products on the market. (For example, “Evo” and “Raw Instinct”) The idea here is to lead consumers to believe the problem with cooked foods is the grains. So the grains are removed and replaced with other starches such as from rice, potato or tapioca. Then claims are made that the resulting products have all the merits of raw. The truth is that the foods are still extruded at hundreds of degrees. Grains, potatoes, rice and tapioca are all sources of starch, a long carbohydrate chain of sugars. Grains are added to extruded products because their starches (the dough) help create a formed nugget. Replacing the starch of grains with other starchy ingredients does not make a food raw or remove dough! "

One also need to remember that the source for the following info is not itself without self interest in these matters and use this material to promote there own less than scientifically based conclusions and products but this is true of anyone in the processes food industry because the simple fact is there ia a lot more that we do not know about nutrition than what we do know.

and on that note from the Abrahmson Cancer Center of the University of Pennslyvannia Nutritional Requirements of Dogs and Cats with Cancer
Clinical Oncology Service
Affiliation: Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (VHUP)
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

"The specific nutritional requirements of the pet with cancer are unknown. We have a good idea of the day-to-day nutritional needs of healthy dogs and cats but do not know whether a pet with cancer has any special or different needs. Some nutrients are of higher priority than others. Water is the most essential nutrient. Next, a pet requires adequate calories and protein, followed by minerals and vitamins. Commercial pet foods are balanced so that when a pet eats adequate calories he will also get adequate amounts of all other required nutrients. The typical problem encountered in pets with cancer is reduced food intake, or refusal of pet foods and acceptance only of table foods that lack essential nutrients.

...Meeting the basic nutritional needs of a cancer patient can be a significant challenge. In human cancer patients, it is established that malnutrition can increase the risk of complications and decrease survival rates. Patients with good nutritional status have an improved response to therapy and better quality of life. While the effects of malnutrition have not as yet been studied in veterinary patients, it seems likely that the results would be similar. "

The Neoplasia (Cancer) Diet for Dogs It started with learning of a study that showed that canine lymphoma patients had a better outcome when they had higher fat, higher protein, lower carbohydrate diet. Eventually this resulted in Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.® producing a "Neoplasia" diet. There are other studies as well and various recommendations for appropriate diet for the canine cancer patient.

Hmm dogs doing better on a high protein high fat diet, were did I here that before :rolleyes:

<a href="" target="_blank">
Hill's n/d® Canine </a>
"Prescription Diet® n/d® Canine dog food was uniquely formulated by veterinarians and researchers for the management of dogs with cancer who are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy and is the only food clinically proven to increase life span and improve the quality of life for dogs with cancer. The nutritional formulation of Prescription Diet® n/d® may also be useful for pets with a variety of conditions. "

specifical Hills N/D diet by Mar Vista Animal Medical Center
"This diet may be of tremendous benefit to a dog with lymphoma but there are a few caveats:

This diet was tested on dogs who received BOTH dietary therapy AND chemotherapy. If you are planning to use this diet INSTEAD of chemotherapy, keep in mind that the effectiveness of this strategy remains untested.

This diet is very expensive as food goes but, of course, very inexpensive as cancer therapy goes.

This diet is frequently found unpalatable by dogs. Remember that enjoyment of food is an important life quality parameter. If a dog eats N/d diet poorly and loses body condition due to poor appetite, it is probably best to use a different diet which is more palatable. "

IMO your best best outside some proven but expensive prescription diet is a Canned Food the mimicks the Hill N/d protein, high fat, low carb

you will find the grain free canned diet of Natural Instinct lower in both protein and fat Evo's is much lower in fat and neither include any info on carbs why? Orijin does not make a canned food.

Who would of thunk it but lowly Might-dog comes much more highly touted, tho the basic parameter are vatly different from hill n/d being moderate protein, very high fat, and low carb.

775 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wow, that's alot to absorb. Thanks so much for posting such interesting reading. I forwarded your reply to my friend. Hopefully she will do some serious reading and decided what is best for Maxine. She is the sweetest dog!

Super Moderator
5,042 Posts
The only carbs in Rainbow's diet were from the cooked and ground veggies, no grains or potatoes (or tapioca). Her diet was fairly high in fat.

The problem with kibbles is they need some kind of starch to hold it together, so they need either grain or potato or tapioca. I chose the Instinct because I thought the tapioca would be the least harmful, not because I thought it contributed anything nutritionally.

13,095 Posts
"The problem with kibbles is they need some kind of starch to hold it together, so they need either grain or potato or tapioca. I chose the Instinct because I thought the tapioca would be the least harmful, not because I thought it contributed anything nutritionally.[/b]
Tapioca does offer the least nutritional but has the highest carb count whether this alows the manufacture to use less is unknowable from informational labels.

One also must keep in mind however all cancers are not the all the studies if have seen on the effectiveness of a high fat low carb diet in regards to cancer are with lymphoma. It is not realistic to expect all types of cancers to respond the same, just as they don't respond the same to different treatments. Trying to treat another type of cancer via diet may be a kin to ttreating a cut with a sunscreen, While a sun screen is effective at wat it does it as no effect on a cut.

What happens with these so called homeopathic cure, alternative medicine, etc is this the animal is predicted to have 3-5 months and you use any one or more of these approaches and the dog lives 3 months a day then they are responcible for extending the dog life. if the dog lives longer than 5 months they are a mirical cure, but if the dog dies the next day well at least we did every thing we could for the dog it just the cancer was more aggressive than the doctors relialize. There is no accountablility, proof, substaintiation and most are based on wild speculation that is is like that which when given with tat under these certain conditions help this unrelated disease in an unrelated species.
Hardly convincing evidence.

Beside any potential health benefit to a high fat low carb diet in cancer patient there are also palitive reason to consider it.

One of the major factor involver in qualitive of life and in surviability of cancer is maintaining weight. For this a higher protein, high fat diet can be be benefitial. Does tend to loss their appitite when sick.
Most dogs find high protein high fats vastly more enjoyable then higher carb diet. The ol given a choice with a dog choose a piece of meat or a piece of carrot? Fat cotains twice as much caloric content / any given weight than carbs or protwien so the dog can eat less and maintain weight. Many cancer interfer in (how is un clear) in metabolic functions , Having higher protein levels may help maintain muscle mass.
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