Skip to content
Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Steps to Help Avoid Canine Cancer? Part 2

Updated: July 12th, 2019

In the last post, we looked at some controllable factors that can be used to decrease risk of cancers in dogs.

These were adopting pets that have lower genetic risks of cancers, keeping dogs lean, and opting for spaying between the second and third heats (we gain mammary cancer protection while also avoiding osteosarcoma risk due to early spay).

Let’s look at more risk factors that can tip the scale to a cancer-free life for a loved dog.

How about early castration?  This was shown to increase the risk of the most common type of bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma), and prostate cancers.

It was also found that spaying increases the risk of developing lymphoma, a common white blood cell cancer in dogs.  The study did not look at the age of the spay.  My hope is that future work will show that spays later in life eliminate this increase risk, but I cannot be sure.

For these reasons and those in the last post, I advise my clients to castrate their make dogs after a year of age if possible.

Now let’s look at some common carcinogens.

Cigarette smoke causes cancer.  Like children, dogs inhale second hand smoke. This has been shown to increase the odds of nasal cancer in dogs with longer muzzles.  It seems obvious that cigarette smoking should not be done in the presence of loved dogs.

Carcinogens can be found as a consequence of diet.  Food prepared at high temperatures can lead to heat-produced carcinogens.  This happens at above 300 degrees F, which one finds in frying pans, ovens, grills, and during  preparation of common commercial pet foods and treats.

Since this is a topic that usually creates a lot of emotional reactions when discussed, I will leave you with some reading material  (here) so the reader may research this independently and arrive at the logical end point: heterocyclic amines, acrylamide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons result from high cooking temperatures and these are carcinogens.

The advice I give clients is to choose foods that are cooked at low temperatures, which is a selling point of a lot of the newer “boutique” type pet foods.

Another problem are the N-nitroso compounds. These form in the stomach (human research) from compounds like sodium nitrite, along with dietary protein. Bacteria that live in the stomach and intestine for form N-nitroso compounds from precursors like sodium nitrite, many of which are classified as probable carcinogens.

For this reason I advise my clients to avoid sodium nitrate as a preservative, which is commonly used in dog treats and chews and occasionally in maintenance foods.

There  is a lot more to answer the question, “What can I do to prevent cancer in my loved dog.”  For further reading, see The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.  By eliminating the factors leading to cancer, we can decease the numbers of dogs getting cancer.


Dr D

Leave a Comment

  1. Karen V on January 13, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Our beautiful 10 year old female lab recently had surgery due to a large tumor. Her spleen and the tumor were removed. We were devistated to find out that the tumor was malignant. Is lean meat enough….do you ever recommend organic meat? What are your thoughts on Red Clover, and Burdock as a supplement? Thank you so much for all the valuable information in your book. I wish I would have read it ten years ago. I’m saddened that dog kibble can even be sold after learning what the heat process does….when will they have to report that….even cigarettes have a small disclaimer. So sad.

    • DemianDressler on January 13, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Dear Karen,
      as long as the organic meat is good quality meat, it is great. Red clover and burdock have some evidence as being helpful, but they are lower on the list than the items discussed in the Guide. If this were my patient, I would be using Apocaps (click here), the dog cancer diet (free download on top of blog), beta glucan immune support, fatty acid supplementation…at a minimum. These are all discussed in the Guide you have.
      All steps should be done under veterinary supervision

Scroll To Top