Does calcium matter to a dog with cancer? How about carcinogenic lead?
Many dog lovers are feeding their dog The Dog Cancer Diet in The Guide, with very good results. A dog with cancer has a unique metabolism that is totally different from a dog with no cancer.
With this in mind, it is clear that they should be on a totally different diet. By changing what a dog with cancer eats, we can get an edge on canine cancer.
Dogs need calcium from their diet. So, a dog fighting cancer needs to have a guardian who is aware of what kind of calcium to give, and whether there are any dangers to avoid.
I was recently talking to Mitch who is taking care of his dog Raleigh. Raleigh was fighting recurring mast cell tumors and was forced to have two surgeries to remove them.
Mitch was inquiring about the form of calcium to give his dog. After hanging up, I thought I should get some information together for everyone.
In the past, we have used oyster shell calcium. Well, no more.
Recent research shows that many calcium supplements may have unacceptably high lead levels.
Why does this matter?
Well, low long term lead exposure can cause brain problems that interfere with learning and can affect moods. On top of this, it can affect fertility, hearing, digestion, the bones, the heart, the kidneys and more. Here is a good reference for more information.
In dogs with cancer, we want to avoid lead for another reason. Lead is classified as a probable carcinogen. Exposing a dog with cancer to carcinogens very likely makes the cancer worse and more difficult to treat.
Clearly, avoiding lead is a good idea.
It has been shown that two thirds of 136 calcium supplements did not meet the 1999 California standards for acceptable lead levels.
So how do we deal with this information?
Calcium has a lot of different forms. The bottom line is that the best one you can easily buy is probably calcium citrate. A paper showed that common calcium citrate supplements did not significantly increase lead levels.
So, instead of bone meal or oyster shell calcium, the new recommendation for dogs with cancer is calcium citrate.
The amount of calcium needed for older dogs is about 40-50 mg per pound daily. For a 40 lb dog, this is about 1600 mg daily. If we assume that this dog gets about half of this amount in a home made diet without adding chicken necks, we need to supplement with about 800 mg of calcium.
To get this amount, we need to give a 40 lb dog about 1 and 1/2 Citracal Maximum caplets daily.
If chicken necks are added according to the recipe in The Guide, this is not necessary. A chicken neck weighs about 2 ounces, which provides 900 mg of calcium. Therefore, two necks daily is adequate for each 40 lbs of body weight.
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.