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

Food and Nutrition for Dogs with Mast Cell Tumors

Updated: May 27th, 2019


Dr. Dressler’s Dog Cancer Diet is appropriate for most dogs, but dogs with mast cell tumors need a few modifications. Read this if your dog needs a low-histamine diet.

low-histamine-mast-cell-tumWe know that good nutrition is the foundation of health. The Dog Cancer Survival Guide devotes an entire chapter to a real food diet for our dogs battling cancer, advising both on the foods to give, and those to avoid.

While every cancer journey is a tough one, the diagnosis of Mast Cell Tumor (MCT) presents a bigger challenge when it comes to feeding. In some mast cell cancers, large amounts of histamine are released in the body, causing irritation and itching. Most treatment protocols include an antihistamine to help, but many foods either have histamines or trigger the release of histamines in the body — so the diet must be looked at, as well.

Even some of the healthiest, highest recommended foods Dr. Dressler recommends in his diet are not appropriate for a dog with MCT. Dr. Dressler’s post on Diets for Dogs with Mast Cell Tumors addresses this cause and effect in more depth, and he has provided insights and reviewed this article, as well.

For more information on Mast Cell Tumors, get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide and check out Chapter 30!

Too Much of a Good Thing

First, it’s important to know that just because your dog has MCT doesn’t mean your dog is automatically having a problem with histamine levels.

The body increases histamine in multiple ways, not just from diet.

So, if your dog is not currently vomiting, itching, feeling sick, having reduced appetite, or swelling as a consequence of histamine load, there is likely little point in reducing histamine levels in his or her diet.

Also, if there are few to no mast cell tumors in the body, there is definitely little point in reducing histamine load by avoiding histaminergic foods.

If any of these symptoms are present, however, having a period of a lower-histamine diet may help.

Like most things, this is all about balance and is not a yes/no/black/white topic.

Finding Information Can Be Tough

It’s surprising just how tough it is to find more thorough information on what foods to give a dog with MCT. I honestly don’t know whether this is because no one wants to publish a recommended list, or no one has thought of it yet. But I know the need is there because our readers are asking for it.

So with Dr. Dressler’s expert input and my own background with animal nutrition, I’m going to give you a list and some suggestions, as long as you promise to note the following:

  • Please be sure to follow the recommended proportions/amounts in Dr. Dressler’s diet. Don’t go overboard on any ingredient — five pounds of brussels sprouts at a time is not good … even though they are on the “ok” list.
  • These tips were compiled by researching several human-food resources for histamine-restricted diets, and screening it against the highest recommended foods for dogs with cancer. Keep in mind that dogs and humans share many similarities physiologically, and dogs are the preferred test subjects for human cancer research. Some of these sources are The Histamine and Tyramine Restricted Diet, and The Histamine Restricted Diet.
  • No list will ever be perfect. There may be foods recommended here that your dog either just doesn’t like, or doesn’t digest well. Every dog is different, and what works for most may not work for your dog, and vice versa. Also, you may research and find a list that recommends against one or more of the items below, and lists that disagree on one item. You can find anything on the internet if you try hard enough.
  • Remember that it’s nearly impossible to eliminate everything that may trigger histamine, but that reducing the histamine load by not aggravating it is surely better than ignoring the problem.

The Definite ‘No’ List

The following foods or ingredients should be completely avoided whenever possible:

All Fermented Foods
All Processed Foods
All Leftovers
All Fish
All Berries
All Stone Fruits (ex: Apricots)
All Cheese
Citrus Fruits
Yeast products like Breads
Cottage Cheese
Walnuts and Pecans
Processed Oils with BHA/BHT
Anything Pickled
Anything with Vinegar

The Recommended ‘Yes’ List

I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised with this. As always, the better quality, organic meats are always better to serve, if possible. And please check out the cooking guidelines below as well.

Chicken Breasts
Lean Beef (trim off any fat)
Turkey Breasts
Chicken or Turkey Necks
Mung Beans
Organic, Rolled Oats (not instant)
Brown Rice (not instant)
Cooked Cabbage
Brussels Sprouts
Butternut Squash
Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
Pure Peanut Butter
Fresh Garlic Cloves
Fresh Ginger
Coconut Oil
Krill Oil/Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flaxseed/Linseed Oil

Get a copy of this in-depth seminar to learn more on Dr. Dressler’s recommendations for Mast Cell Tumors!

Commercial Foods

Unfortunately, even among the best-quality commercial dog foods we have yet to find one that matches these recommendations. So if your dog is showing symptoms of histamine overload, cooking for him or her is your best bet.

However, there are some really great foods available these days, many we have listed in the Dog Cancer Shop and Dog Cancer Shop UK, which will help if your dog is not showing the symptoms listed above.

If a commercial food ever does come on the market that is of high quality and would be appropriate for dogs with histamine overload, we’ll update this article.

Special Cooking Considerations

Histamine rises as meat cooks, and it continues to rise after removed from the heat. So, always cook your meat at low temperatures and don’t overcook.

For example, I’ve found the best way to cook chicken and turkey is to simmer the breasts in a large pot of water. You get more meat for your money and you have a great broth too.

You can also reduce heat-induced histamine by immediately freezing your meat in meal-sized portions.  (Even refrigerating the cooked meat has proven to raise histamine levels — so freezing is the best option.)

Don’t throw out that broth — it can be frozen in ice cube trays for treats, or in any small containers that give you up to a cup-size frozen broth-cicle which can be melted down at any time for your dog’s enjoyment.

Consider: No Leftovers

Many of us cook the dog cancer diet in a big batch and refrigerate it for a few days. But if your dog has mast cell tumors, and you need a low-histamine diet, you might consider freezing every day’s portion individually. That’s because histamines rise in food as they sit in the fridge. Leftovers have higher histamines than fresh cooked foods. When you freeze the fresh-cooked food, you avoid excess histamine accumulation.

Are Fish Oil Supplements Safe?

Is there cause for concern if you give your dog a fish oil supplement? Possibly …. although the processing of the fish to get its oil alters the original material, and likely removes any problematic metabolites that cause histamine reactions, fish flesh itself is on the ‘no’ list. So to be very safe, if your dog is showing signs of histamine overload and you have him or her on a low-histamine diet, avoiding fish oil is a conservative choice.

What about krill oil? Dr. Dressler, in general, recommends krill oil over other fish oil supplements for many reasons which he explains in the book. We have found that Mercola Krill Oil and Jarrow Formula Krill Oil report that any histamine is “below detectable levels” which is about as good as it can get.

So the benefits of giving a high-quality krill oil outweigh the infinitesimal amount of histamine which may be present. Both of these oils are available through the Dog Cancer Shop.

If you are interested in more supplements that Dr. Dressler recommends, get this seminar on the Best Supplements for Dog Cancer

A Labor of Love

All of this sounds like a lot of work, I know. But once you’re in the swing you can actually make your doggie food preparation a lot of fun. When you have your ingredients, a little organization and an hour of time is all you need to prepare a week of food for your dog.

While your meat is cooking you can prepare a pot of organic, rolled oats or brown rice, and lightly cook the vegetables.

Store the meat portions in one container, oat/rice in another, and the various vegetables in a third.

Freeze the meat, refrigerate the others.

When food time nears you can select from each to make a delicious meal. Either thaw to room temperature if you have the time, or warm in a microwave. Remember not to overheat.

I’ll bet your dog will be gazing wide-eyed until you put that bowl down.

I hope this helps those of you out there who were shaking your head in frustration. Take a deep breath, sit down with your dog and make that shopping list. You’re doing great!

Happy Tails!


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Leave a Comment

  1. Lauren on December 4, 2019 at 8:14 am

    Hello. My 12 year old dog Roxie was diagnosed with Mast Cell Tumors on her left hind leg in June 2019. She has been on prednisone, Benadryl and has even had surgery. The tumors have since gotten worst. Roxie is still very alert and in good spirits. I am determined that she will survive this. Today I decided that I would look into natural healing remedies, changing her diet etc. and that is when I found your website. I have been reading and researching a lot about this disease and your website has been helpful to me. Today will be the start of Roxie’s new diet along with other things as far as meds etc. Thank you!

  2. Dallas Ryan Roberts on September 6, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    Would sweet potatoes be okay? To help with the liver.

  3. Tracy Price on August 5, 2019 at 6:08 am

    What about DAO supplementation for dogs with high histamine production?

  4. Melanie on July 19, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you. My dog has lived 3 1/2 years past her mast cell cancer diagnosis. Two tumors were removed, but the primary tumor could not be removed. I also give her 5 ml of children’s Benadryl before her meal. I’ve been cooking for her based upon your recommendations since February 2016.Steamed Broccoli, oats, organic chicken breasts, and flax oil seem to work best for her.

  5. Bonoca on July 14, 2019 at 6:18 am

    Dr. Dressler’s book version on page 209 recommends adding cottage cheese whereas your list says not to. I’d love a proportion recommendation of protein to oatmeal/brown rice to veggies for a 60 pound dog.

    • Molly Jacobson on July 14, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Bonoca! Thanks for your question. This post is only for dogs with mast cell tumors who are actively itchy/over-histamined. These are MODIFICATIONS to the dog cancer diet in the book. So, follow the book in general, including the ratios of protein, carbs, and veggies in the regular recipe. If your dog has mast cell tumors AND is currently super itchy/overloaded on histamine, THEN you should modify what you are doing to follow these suggestions. So for example, if your dog is overloaded on histamine, and you are currently giving cottage cheese as recommended, eliminate the cottage cheese until the histamine is under control. As for weight, the amount of food in the recipe guidelines in the book will last a 50 pound dog 2 to 4 days. So a super-active 50 pound dog would eat half one day, and half the next. A couch potato 50 pound dog would eat 1/4 that amount of food each day for four days. Your 60 pound dog would need a little more than a 50 pound dog, but exactly how much would totally depend upon your pup’s level of energy. I recommend making the recipe and then give your dog what you THINK he needs based on his activity level. If he’s really active, this might only last you two days, or even a day and a half. If he’s not as active, though, it might last two or three days. The only way to figure this out is to experiment and see how he does. Once you have an idea of how long this amount of food lasts you, you will get an idea of how much to make at a time for your dog and your schedule. I personally make a month’s worth of food for my dog, and then freeze it in containers that hold about two days’ worth of food at a time. That way I have one big cooking day per month, but I don’t have to do it again for a long time. I just take a container out every other day and thaw it to room temperature and then refrigerate until it’s gone. Happy cooking!

  6. patricia w. on June 24, 2019 at 6:52 am

    any kibble guidelines for people who cannot home cook for their dog with a history of MCT? it would be hugely helpful. thank you.

  7. Ann on May 26, 2019 at 7:27 am

    Hello. My boxer has had 3 low grade MCT all benign. Would you recommend following this suggested list of food even though he doesn’t have cancer? Thanks!

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on May 27, 2019 at 9:04 am

      Hey Ann,

      Thanks for writing. Dr. D does recommend that if your dog has a grade 2 or 3 MCT, you should try to incorporate a low-histamine diet into your dog’s treatment plan. You won’t be able to eliminate histamine from your dog’s body entirely, but you can take proactive steps to reduce the amount of histamine in the body 🙂

      However, if your dog is not currently vomiting, itching, feeling sick, having reduced appetite, or swelling as a consequence of histamine load, there is likely little point in reducing histamine levels in his diet.

  8. Maha Omais on March 25, 2019 at 3:21 am


    in the Yes list is there no eggs?

    i am very sad because all that is good my dog does not like, i am loosing him, nothing i could do to help him , i am left with dozens of Apocaps and k9 and citrus Pectin, nothing and no vet in my country
    i am very very sad extremely sad he only accepted ham this morning, he is in pain i do tramadol injections every 6 to 8 hours…All is in God’s hands
    thank you for all you do to try to help

  9. Susan Cosentino on February 9, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    I thought garlic was toxic for dogs……along with onions, grapes, etc.

  10. Bobby Fletcher on January 17, 2019 at 7:11 am

    Hello there,

    my dog has been diagnosed with a M.C.T. We are not sure of the grade yet, surgery in 7-days and its been about 7-days since we found out. We are giving her turkey tail mushrooms in small dosage, increasing slowly every 5-7-days as well as CBD & THC( very monitored with THC). We give our dog dehydrated apple slices for a treat, but I am wondering if we should stop? She doesn’t itch often but sometimes after we put a C.B.D/T.H.C cream on, other than that not too bad. She has had a small loss of appetite but she is around 70-95% regular food intake. We give her Open Farms food brand, the flavor is usually wild salmon or whitefish. I have just read your article as well as others and should i change the flavor of her food to a turkey flavor for the next month or so?
    I really appreciate any information you may have here as to my questions and ANY tips at all that helped you and your fur-babies beat this horrible disease. I was so glad to read that you and your pups made it against some not so great odds.
    Her name is Shinobi and she is a Pug/Boston/Papilon/Pom mix, and weighs about 10-12 lbs.

    Thank you very much.

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on January 17, 2019 at 8:51 am

      Hello Bobby,

      Thanks for writing, and we are sorry to hear about Shinobi! As we’re not veterinarians here in customer support, we can’t offer you medical advice. We can, however, provide you with information based off Dr. Dressler’s writing 🙂

      Diet is very important in helping your dog with cancer– Dr. D even dedicated an entire chapter to diet in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide. In the article above, Susan has Apples in the Definite No list for dog’s with MCT.

      If you are looking for some healthy treats to give your girl, some** of the options in the articles below may be good for a dog with MCT:

      ** Eggs is an example of a treat that can’t be given to a dog with MCT

      In general, the Dog Cancer Diet is ideal for most dog’s with cancer, and they actually enjoy eating it! The reason why Dr. D has a list of healthy options that you can add to the diet is to help enhance the diet’s flavour, and provide some variety for your dog. However, consult with your vet to tailor the diet to your girl’s dietary needs, and see what they would recommend to include or exclude 🙂 Here’s a link to the Dog Cancer Diet that readers of the blog can get for free: https://store.dogcancerblog.com/products/the-dog-cancer-diet

      We hope this helps! 🙂

  11. Terri Beirne on January 14, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    My catahoula cur had a subcutaneous mast cell tumor removed. If graded it would be a 3. So far no signs of metastasizing. I would like to make her food using the diet. However, it does not say how much of each ingredient to use. Please clarify.
    Kind Regards,

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on January 15, 2019 at 8:14 am

      Hello Terri,

      Thanks for writing. We’re not veterinarians here in customer support, so we can’t offer you medical advice. However, we can provide you with information based off Dr. Dressler’s writings 🙂

      Most of the exceptions for dogs with mast cell tumors that are listed in this article only applies if your dog is actively itchy and has histamine overload (not all dogs with mast cell tumors do)– your veterinarian may be able to help answer this for you. As for a recipe, here’s a link to the Dog Cancer Diet PDF that readers of the blog can get for free : https://store.dogcancerblog.com/products/the-dog-cancer-diet

      In general, this diet is ideal for most dogs with cancer. If your dog can not tolerate an ingredient or it isn’t good for her, or if your vet tells you to not give it to her, then exclude it. Dr. D lists a number of healthy options that you can add, so that you can find a way to give your dog a balanced diet, even if you can’t do everything he recommends.

      You should also consult with her veterinarian to see if they have any suggestions on what to include, or exclude 🙂

      We hope this helps!

  12. Linda Skerbec on December 22, 2018 at 6:52 am

    Hi Susan,

    We feel overwhelmed because we just found out that or 7 1/2 year old black lab has cancer.

    He had his spleen removed as well as a little bit of his liver – where a small amount of the cancer
    was found.

    Can you tell mw how this diet helped your dogs.

    – and thank you so much,


  13. Edith A Little on November 29, 2018 at 7:56 am

    had been using halo dog food and treats, snuggles started throwing up more and more, vet changed her diet to a science diet for sensitive stomachs, this is a grain based and also put her on probiotic, she has some lumps that we have found that was not there before, have an appointment with vet tomorrow, is this a good food for her to be on since she has had mast cell cancer in the past with clear margins?

    • Dog Cancer Vet Team on November 30, 2018 at 7:16 am

      Hello Edith,

      Thanks for writing! We’re not veterinarians here in customer support, so we can’t offer you medical advice. However, we can provide you with information based off Dr. Dressler’s writings 🙂

      In Chapter 8 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, Dr. D recommends these high-quality brands– Halo, Solid Gold, Orijen, Honest Kitchen, Blue Buffalo, and Taste of the Wild– as a second only to a home-cooked diet. If you have concerns about the brand that your vet has recommended, ask them about carcinogens, cooking temps, and etc, to make sure it is safe for your dog. Here’s a link to an article that you may find beneficial: https://www.dogcancerblog.com/articles/full-spectrum-cancer-care/dog-cancer-diet/is-your-dogs-food-helping-or-hurting/

      If you are interested in the Dog Cancer Diet that Dr. D recommends, check out Chapter 14 of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, or get the free Dog Cancer Diet PDF here: https://store.dogcancerblog.com/products/the-dog-cancer-diet

      Because each dog and their health situations are unique, you should consult with your veterinarian if you would like to feed your dog the Dog Cancer Diet. This way, your vet can tailor the diet to suit your dog’s needs, allergies, sensitivities, and so on 🙂

      Consult with your veterinarian as they know your dog the best, and can advise you on a diet that works best for your girl, and her current treatment plan– and don’t be afraid to ask questions! 🙂

      We hope this helps!

  14. D.Denyer on May 16, 2018 at 9:36 am

    I just found out that my 3 yr old vizsla Baxter has mass cell cancer. Iam so upset over this news. I was wanting to know what food or supplements I could give him that would be safe and hopefully help along with the chemo treatments. Right now he eats Nutro grain free.

    • DogCancerBlog on May 17, 2018 at 8:44 am

      Hi D, Thanks for writing and we’re sorry to hear about Baxter! We have all been touched with canine cancer, and we know what you’re going through with your boy. The Dog Cancer Diet recommended by Dr. Dressler encourages healthy cells, discourages cancer growth and consists of feeding your dog a diet that is human-grade and that he will LOVE 😉 If you can’t give your dog a home-cooked diet, there are a few high-quality commercial brands of dog food that we recommend, such as Halo, Solid Gold or Blue Buffalo.

      D, you may find this Supplements for Dogs with Cancer article to be helpful! You should definitely check with your vet on what supplements to use in conjunction with conventional treatments, like chemo, as they know YOU, YOUR dog and his health situation better 🙂

  15. Laura Henschel on March 12, 2018 at 4:56 am

    I thought garlic was toxic to dogs?

  16. Elizabeth Maupin on January 15, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Hello: I received a daily meal plan from another source but am now unsure as it includes 1 egg per day, walnuts, and 2 T unsweetened yogurt and/or cottage cheese. Can you tell me why these foods are NOT recommended?

  17. Lia Azevedo on October 22, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Hello everyone,

    I am from Portugal and this type of marvelous aproaches to câncer don’t even exist gere.

    I Have a 5yo French Bulldog That was diagnosed with Insulinoma Stage 3.

    Since the ketogenic diet is low on carbs or with no carbs at all and the Insulinoma causes hypoglicemia what type of ketogenic recipes can I Feed my dog?

    He went trought surgery last week and the Vet took 6 cists and 1 linfonodule, as well as a part of the liver. He is very good and I don’t think is in pain But I would like to try my best to have him with me healthy as long as I can.

    Can you help me please cause I don’t know the quantities I should Feed him since is not a very active dog and he weights around 13,5kg. I have a lol of ebooks about this, the frete ones blecaute I used all my money and my credit card is out but I am still afraid am I not giving him the right quantities of food. I am giving him around 140gr of cooked cow meet and 7gr of brócolos and One small spoon of coconut oil, 2 Times a day.

    HELP ME PLEASE, I AM DESPERATE, he is my everything.

    Kind regards

  18. FD on May 29, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Hi Susan, I hope that you are still monitoring this post. Just wanted to let you know that this article is was so informative. The items on the suggested, “Yes” list are very similar to the foods I eat daily, so it’ll be easy for me to prepare healthy meals for my pup. Although my dog does not have cancer, I believe preventive health care is just as important. Thanks again for sharing this post!

  19. Cindy Bueso on June 13, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Hello, my dog was diagnosed with mast cell tumor and she just started taking Avemar which is fermented wheat germ but reading your blog I found out that releases more histamine… what should I do?

  20. Susan Kazara Harper on June 23, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    What wonderful news. Well done, John! Prognosis are always based on the statistics at hand, and can’t possibly take into account the spirit of the dog or all the love, care and support from their best human friends. Give your girl a wonderful hug form us. !!!

  21. John Thompson on June 20, 2015 at 2:24 am

    My dog has lung cancer. I have been making this for my dog.

    kidney beans
    garbanzo beans
    black turtle beans

    cook in crock pot and use food processor to make paste
    server one scoop with these on the top
    olive oil
    cod liver oil
    shiitake mushroom
    1/4 cube of unsalted butter

    green tea extract
    a drop Indica with high thc
    milk thistle

    She has been alive now for almost a year. The vet gave her two weeks.

  22. Susan Kazara Harper on June 16, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Sarah, You make good points, and come back to the issue; a dog with cancer has a compromised immune system. Period. The body is under attack, and normal body systems do not respond as they would in a healthy animal. This is why the Drs recommend against a raw diet. Why take the chance ot introducing more challenges to the body? A human-fed raw diet is not the same as a wild raw diet, it can’t be. Having said that, no guidline is 100% definite for every individual dog. Some will thrive on a raw diet. The Drs present their professional opinion. It’s down to every human guardian to take the responsibiliity of weighing it up and making the choice. Thank you for your input.

  23. Susan Kazara Harper on January 5, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    Renee, you are doing a marvelous job. And I do truly understand, have had two dogs with cancer myself. So I’m glad I can help in some way. I asked about the itching simply because you needn’t be too strict in avoiding some of the foods (as mentioned in the Food and Nutrition for Dogs with Mast Cell Tumor blog) if itching is not a problem. You won’t make the cancer worse by feeding foods that an itchy dog should avoid. I hope that makes sense. So you can loosen up a bit. I know Krill oil is expensive. You’d likely be better off giving her loewr doses of the krill rather than full doses of a regular fish oil. There is just so much range of good-to-poor quality in the larger fish oils…. but just a thought. I love that Daisy has a wonderful appetite. Let her have what makes sense, we don’t want skinny dogs fighting cancer, a little extra weight is not a problem. They need to be a bit robust to get through this. Do you have a good quality kibble base for some of her meals? We have some excellent brands listed in the Dog Cancer Shop (www.dogcancershop.com), and this is also a handy treat option. Using the food you make is perfect, you just get to spend more time cooking! It sounds as though you have some good vets working with you in a positive way. Give Daisy a great big cuddle from me please. Keep doing what you’re doing. More isn’t always better. You may also explain to Daisy what’s going on with the different treatments etc. You probably do; we know our dogs understand more than some people believe. Let her know what’s coming and stay positive with her. All the best!

  24. Susan Kazara Harper on December 29, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    You are doing an absolutely amazing job, and you MUST remember this. I truly understand what you’re going through. So here are some thoughts I want you to grasp hold of.
    First, as Dr Dresslers says in the MCT nutrition blog, don’t worry overmuch about restrictnig the foods unless there is itching. Is Daisy itching? Second, Stage 2 MCT is a wide range, but still more hopeful than Stage 3, so you focus on that. It’s hard to find the way to still the voices of doom and gloom, but it’s the only way you both will face this fight. I strongly feel you’d be happier with another vet, or at least an opinion from another vet. phone other vets in your area and interview them. By that I mean, ask how much cancer they deal with, how many cases of MCT. Find your expert.

    Next, check out the blog https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/neoplasene-as-a-dog-cancer-treatment/ to get some views on Neoplasene as a treatment option.

    Remember not to throw loads of supplementation at her. You can ‘overdose’ or over-do the supplements and pour money down her throat. Keep doing what you are, research. Use the Dog Cancer Survival Guide which has a wonderful chapter on what is considered the best treatments to put your money in to, and which sound great on the internet, but have no solid foundation of proof. Hang in there Renee. Daisy needs you and you know her better than anyone. We’re here to help you navigate. The best medicine of all is happy, quality days and that good food. Good luck!

    • Renee on December 30, 2014 at 10:43 am

      Thank you so very much for your response! I want to let you know that Daisy seems to be doing well on the diet. I don’t see any progress in her cancer as of yet; she seems stable so far. This is a huge relief to me because I know that time is my enemy right now. I have already brought neoplasene to my vet’s attention and he is very excited about it and plans to order it for Daisy on Jan. 2nd. I should mention that there are 3 vets in the practice and all three were mentioned in my previous letter…it was not just one who saw her and treated the different occurrences. One of them has her Master’s in Nutrition, and leans heavily toward holistic, natural treatments and is also very excited about neoplasene. I am anxious to get started, and also a bit apprehensive, which I think is natural. I hope the oral treatment does not make Daisy very nauseaus; that is my main apprehension.
      You asked if Daisy is itching. She is not. She is still on the 75 mg of Benadryl bid, so I would be surprised if she was itching. Is it ok to give her the cottage cheese and blueberries? Eggs? As far as supplements, I have started her on Krill Oil, but I cannot afford to give her 6000 to 9000 mg a day of it. A bottle would last me 5 days. I have started to give her Flaxseed Oil also because I saw it on the approved list for MCT, so I give her 2000 mg of that right now, with the intention of slowly building up. My only concern with that is I see it also has omega 6’s in it, which Dr. Dressler says is a “bad” omega? Please advise if I am doing the right thing. And what about the Fish Oil? I had bought a large bottle of that. I don’t know if that is ok to use or not.
      I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement and support. You couldn’t possibly know how much it means to me. I am trying so hard to keep my girl happy. The hard part for me is she is always looking for food and treats, and I hate denying her but there just aren’t any good treats for her, so I use the food I make as treats. I try to change it up a little here and there to give her a little variety, and I believe she is eating more and better than me and my boyfriend now, lol. At least I can use my food stamps to buy the food for her now, so that’s a good thing. She will always get good, nourishing, quality food.
      Thank you again for your interest in and concern for my Daisy. It means so much to me to feel that I have someone who understands what she and I are going through!

  25. Renee on December 23, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    My beautiful girl Daisy (10.5 years old, Lab/Chow? mix) has been diagnosed with MCT. I am devastated. She had a tumor removed from her left side…the vet had always said it was a lipoma, nothing to worry about(she had it her whole life) but had to be removed recently because it suddenly increased in size. He saved slices from the tumor for future biopsy if we ever felt the need to do so. Daisy did well following surgery for 2 weeks, then she had a bleed on the back of her neck that I couldn’t stop all day and evening. Following day, vet said she was fine, it was an adenoma, and put her on cephalexin 500 mg bid for 2 weeks. 2 days later Daisy woke up in the morning and cried out when she tried to stand on her left front leg. Her elbow was swollen, and part of her leg as well. Called the vet again, by the time I heard back, her entire leg was swollen, Vet did an x-ray to rule out fracture. Prednisone was prescribed. This was on a Saturday. Monday morning I brought her back because her entire leg was still quite swollen, as well as her left chest. She stayed to have a drain put in with two exits from her body. After the drains were inserted, my vet said he thought the swelling was due to trauma…had she fallen down the stairs? No, she couldn’t have because I went with her every time she went up or down stairs, holding onto her collar to be sure she was safe. I asked to have the biopsy on the slices from the tumor done the day the drains were put in; it took 3 days for the results to come back. Grade II, with mitotic index of 9, which I know is bad.After her “lipoma” surgery I found a few new small lumps, which the vet thought were also lipomas, but at this point we aspirated them and they tested positive for MCT. Daisy is currently on the cephalexin still, Benadryl 75 mg bid, and prednisone 20 mg bid. I found Dr. Dressler’s Cancer Diet, and made up a large batch consisting of boneless chicken breasts, beef liver, brown rice, fresh minced parsley, fresh minced garlic, brussels sprouts, blueberries, and cottage cheese, as listed in the dog cancer diet.She loves the food, but she is always hungry! Food has always been her favorite thing in the world, aside from me.I have also given her scrambled eggs, thinking that the protein would be good for her and hold her till the next meal. I also bought Fish oil for her and started giving her that. Today I found this blog. I see I am not supposed to give her eggs, cottage cheese, blueberries. I really feel lost and so scared. I am trying so hard to do the right thing for my girl but I am frustrated by my poor financial situation. my credit card is already maxed out. I want to do everything I can for my baby. And I am afraid she can sense my stress. I cry too much…I am trying to change that. I am waiting to hear from a holistic vet to find out if Daisy is a candidate for neoplasene, and if I can afford it if she is. Please, any guidance from you would be greatly appreciated.

  26. Susan Kazara Harper on December 1, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Hi Gina, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide does not have the detail of recipes for dogs with mast cell tumors, and as we’ve noted in this post, Dr Dressler points out that you only need to restrict histamine enhancing foods if there is an itching problem. So if you can use this blog, and the recommended food lists in it, and use the Dog Cancer Diet as in the book, you can select the best ingredients for your dog IF you find a need to reduce histamine foods. We all become mini-experts in the nutrition of our own dogs, and after all, isn’t that the absolute best way?

  27. Gina on November 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Is there specific dog food recipes for dogs with MST in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide?

  28. Susan Kazara Harper on September 9, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Feed that gorgeous girl everything she wants to eat. If she isn’t having itching symptoms you can always include a egg here and there if she likes them. Take them away if you see any histamine response. Feed her, feed her, feed her. We’d always rather have a little extra weight on a dog with a cancer diagnosis, than to be underweight. Extra cuddles too, and one from me please. Follow the diet, give her as much as she wants. You’re doing a wonderful job.

    • Gina Tomaselli on May 9, 2018 at 2:28 pm

      Actually that’s not true about the weight. Are you a vet? Every vet I have talked to says it’s always better to have a lean dog.

      • DogCancerBlog on May 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm

        Hi Gina, thanks for writing. In general, a lean dog is healthier than a heavier dog, but Susan’s point is that when it comes to cancer, which causes cachexia (weight loss), it’s OK to have a little extra weight on a dog. It helps the body to fight the cancer, and it gives them something to “lose” as the cancer progresses, without cutting into reserves too much. When it comes to serious illnesses, we simply have to go easy on ourselves where we can. If a dog is a little heavier than we’d like, but is able to fight cancer, we worry less about the weight and more about the ability to fight the illness. Susan isn’t a veterinarian, but she is an animal health expert in the UK, and many veterinarians actually turn to her for advice about nutrition due to her incredible breadth of experience and knowledge. When it comes to cancer, there really are no rules that apply to every case. In people, or in dogs 🙁

  29. Allyzabethe on September 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Thank you for responding to my previous post. Isabelle is still hanging in, despite a second tumor. She is not experiencing any histamine reactions, thank goodness.
    My question today is about how to put a little weight on her. She’s lost quite a bit of weight, some due to her age, but I think some also due to the cancer. She’s lost 4 ounces in a month.Her diet follows the book as far as meals go. Would you recommend an additional portion of her normal food? I was thinking of making “meatballs” for her of higher fat beef (80/20 or 73/27). Her food protein is venison which is fairly low fat to begin with. With any other dog, I’d use eggs, but I hesitate to go with eggs since they are on the no-histamine list. Just in case. She has the typical pug appetite and will eat virtually anything I put in her bowl.
    Thanks in advance.

  30. Susan Kazara Harper on September 8, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Hi Erika,
    Sorry for the delay responding. Dr. Dressler advises that if there is no itching or other symptoms of a histamine problem, it’s not necessary to restrict foods to low histamine foods. That makes it ever so much easier. Being aware of the restricted list gives you a great leeway to manage Gracie’s nutrition.
    I hope this helps. Give Gracie a big cuddle for me.

  31. Erika on August 29, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    Hi Susan, hopefully you are still monitoring this blog post, though I know it’s a bit old. My Labrador just had a surgical removal of her 2nd MCT. The first tumor was a grade II and we are still awaiting the biopsy results for this second one. My regular vet removed the first, but this most recent one we consulted with an oncologist and surgeon at the same speciality clinic performed the surgery. I feel a bit overwhelmed with figuring out a nutrition plan for my dog (Gracie). She is NOT experiencing any symptoms related to histamine overload that you have mentioned except she has ALWAYS (since the age of 2 when we adopted her) been a big paw-licker. She is now 9.5 and did not get her first MCT until last year, when she was 8.5 years old. In light of this, would you recommend following a low histamine diet OR can I use the diet as recommended in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide?

  32. Susan Kazara Harper on August 7, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Hi Allyzabethe,
    Nutrition and supplementation is particularly confusing with MCT. We specifically wrote the blog because the Dog Cancer Diet, while ideal for most dogs fighting cancer, includes some ingredients which could potentially raise histamine levels in a dog with MCT who is experiencing itching. So if your dog has itching problems, you can take the Diet, and modify it against the recommendations in this blog post. As to the specifics you mention… First, be very careful about using too many antioxidants. The reasons to use antioxidants in a healthy dog is quite different in a dog with a cancer diagnosis. Dr. Dressler wrote a wonderful blog https://www.dogcancerblog.com/blog/dog-cancer-and-antioxidantstime-to-clear-up-confusion/ which helps explain this. Please take a moment to read it. Regarding calcium, please make sure, if you are giving a calcium supplement, that you get one which is not formulated with fluoride (a carcinogen). In the Dog Cancer Shop we have a very good brand recommended, https://dogcancershop.com/supplements-for-dogs/. The Krill oil is OK to continue.
    We really get to be experts in nutrition on this journey, once we plough through all the confusing information, and our dogs get the benefit. I hope this helps. Hang in there.

  33. Susan Kazara Harper on August 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    Hi Kim,
    You’re staying on top of things, and there are warnings everywhere about garlic being toxic to dogs (along with other items like grapes, chocolate etc). And there is evidence that large amounts of garlic (like a 1/2 tsp per pound body weight(can you imagine?)) can cause problems in the red blood cells of dogs. But we don’t use anything like that amount in the Diet. The constituents in garlic have demonstrated anti-cancer benefits, which is why Dr. Dressler recommends it in the Dog Cancer Diet. He does differentiate though, between real, natural garlic, and garlic capsules which can become unstable and may not have any beneficial effects. Garlic also has some antioxidant effects, but it’s the anti-cancer effects that lock-in it’s place on the recommended list. Small amounts of natural garlic pose no threat to your dogs health, and also, your dog will probably love the taste. So the only caution is, if your dog is anemic, check with your vet before using garlic. You would want to get the anemia until control before reintroducing it into the diet. I hope this helps.

  34. Kim on August 3, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Why are fresh garlic cloves on the ‘Recommended Yes’ list? Isn’t garlic toxic to dogs?

  35. Allyzabethe on August 2, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    I’m a little confused because the above list conflicts with the diet booklet. Specifically, the blueberries, eggs and cottage cheese. My Isabelle is 14+ and a grade 3 mast cell tumor removed two weeks ago. If blueberries aren’t an option, what do I use to supplement antioxidants? I can use a pill for calcium and use meats for proteins, but the antioxidants are what I really want to increase.
    Somewhat unrelated, but if I give her K9 Immunity Plus and Apocaps, do I reduce or stop krill oil?
    Thanks in advance,
    Allyzabethe and Isabelle

  36. Susan Kazara Harper on July 30, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Oh Deanna, that’s great news. To have a vet you are happy with and who is willing to check things out is a real blessing. Keep taking care of yourself. The frights will come, and the tears, but share them with Buddy. He knows what you’re feeling, and it would be very special for you to share that with him .. talk it through. The chats will help you both. He is blessed to have you too! Hang in there.

  37. Susan Kazara Harper on July 22, 2014 at 7:18 am

    Hi Deanna,
    We certainly do care, and maybe can offer some suggestions here for you.
    It sounds like you’re dealing with a very good vet, but possibly one that has not dealt with many cancer cases. Although vet oncologists are few and far between where you are, you can still get in touch with one’s office and put Buddy’s case to them. KSU could be a good place to start. And you do really need a specialist, even if it is one who is consulting remotely on Buddy’s case. I wonder, did you ask your vet for her opinion about whether to treat or not to treat and what you should do? If not, and you’re getting a lot of opinions and decisions of all sorts made for you, please remember that all our vets are highly qualified experts… who work for us. We pay them for their knowledge. Noone can be an expert in everything, but bottom line is that you are Buddy’s parent and guardian, and the decisions are yours Deanna. To assume that the mast cell has metastasized is taking a big leap without xrays or other tests showing that it has spread. If there is no evidence of spread, taking the toe could be a very good option. Your inquiry about Benadryl shows you’ve done some homework. Benadryl is traditionally used to control itching, but if Buddy isn’t itching from the MCT you may be able to keep it on hand to use if and when he does itch. You’re feeding good food, and if you can give more ‘real’ food, like real chicken meat etc. it will do him even more good. You can go to http://www.dogcancerdiet.com/ and enter your email for a free copy of the Dog Cancer Diet. Good nutrition is the foundation of a strong immune system. You say Buddy is overweight and yes, it would be nice if he were a healthier weight, but if he has cancer we’d rather have him a little heavier, than underweight. If you can, increase your Apocaps dosage – the full recommended amount for Buddy’s weight is 3 capsules 3 times a day, and you don’t seem to be giving him anything else that would indicate keeping him on a lower dose of Apocaps. Ask your vet about Mastinib, or Masivet. This launched in 2008 and was developed for dogs with MCT. It may be appropriate for Buddy. But again, you do need access to an oncologist who has the expertise that your vet may not. You are doing a wonderful job for Buddy, and he’s showing you this in his everyday joy. Take a deep breath and take charge. Your instincts are good Deanna. Keep going.

    • Deanna on July 29, 2014 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you so much for your reply. Yesterday, I took Buddy to another veterinarian who was much more helpful. We are increasing the Apocaps and starting Palladia (100 mg M-W-F), and increasing the cimetidine. I feel better because this vet spent 2 hours with Buddy and myself and really took the time to answer my questions and look information up that she wasn’t sure of. He is also starting an antibiotic for some scabs that have formed on small skin tumors.

      I will attempt to contact a vet oncologist at KSU. I am trying to stay positive around Buddy as it says in the book, but sometimes I get scared and cry. I think he thinks I am hovering a bit much, so I am watching that lol.

      He is a wonderful dog and I am blessed to share my life with him!

  38. Deanna on July 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    My yellow lab mix, Buddy, who weighs 105 lbs, had a mass cell tumor removed from his back left toe that has returned. The vet did a fine needle aspirate on a lump in his caudal region that came back as a mast cell tumor, probably metasticized since it was on the same back left leg. She said it was too big for her to feel comfortable removing, and that there was no point in removing his toe with the tumor because it had already spread up his leg. I asked if I should start giving him Benadryl, and she asked me why. I told her about the histamines and she said she would call a vet at Kansas State University and ask him, but she would not treat a dog with chemo because of side effects. Later, she called me back and said to give him 100 mg. of Benadryl 3 times a day (seems like a lot!) and I could order Palladia if I wanted to try it but it was really expensive and she didn’t think we needed to do all the blood tests, etc. recommended. Basically, she said he probably had already lived the amount of time he could due to his obesity, and I needed to accept that he wouldn’t be around much longer. I am now giving him the Benadryl, 200 mg. of Cimetidine 3 times a day, 1 Apocaps 3 times a day, and two 8 mg thyroid medicine 2 times a day. He has started to get little bumps that look exactly like mosquito bites on his back left leg (the one with the tumors) some have scabs on them and two larger scabbed areas, one on his shoulder and one on his abdomen. I have been putting Neosporin on them. He eats Acana dry dog food, 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup at night. I have. O idea if what I am doing is correct. He still has a great appetite, no vomiting or diarrehea, and still wants to go on walks and runs around in the backyard. He licks the tumor on his toe a lot, an shows some weakness in that leg, when going up stairs. Will you PLEASE help me? I live in SW Kansas and there are no vet oncologists anywhere near me. Am I on the right track? Am I overmedicating him? Is there anyone out there who cares to help me. I feel so alone and just want to help Buddy who means everything to him. I know I can’t cure him but I want to do the best things for him while I still have him. I feel like there is no one to help us.

    • TamekoTheArtist on June 24, 2017 at 7:34 am

      Google mass cell tumors and see if you can find an image of what you are seeing. I saw pictures describing that appear to be the tumors multiplying. My dog had one that started like a mosquito bite then it grew to about 3 cm. I took him to the vet right away and now I am waiting on the results! Pins and needles I tell you but I don’t find anything similar to this growth other than mass cell tumor. I still have my fingers crossed but it doesn’t look good.

    • Jill Barc on March 15, 2018 at 3:50 pm

      My dog is in an earlier stage of treatment, and I feel like you do. To me, you’re doing everything right and it sounds like your dog is enjoying his life! I hope my girl manages as well. I’m considering amputating her leg if her tumor doesn’t shrink. Best of luck to you.

  39. Susan Kazara Harper on June 16, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    If we come across any recipes to help, I’ll make sure to post them.

  40. Kelly k on June 14, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    You mention that cooking the poultry/meat increases the histamine, is it better to try a raw diet for a dog with MCT?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on June 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Kelly,
      Well, not really, because while a raw diet would negate the problem with cooking temperatures, Dr Dressler doesn’t recommend a raw diet for dogs with cancer. In The Dog Cancer Survival Guide and the Dog Cancer Diet, he explains that dogs with cancer have a different body chemistry than healthy dogs, as well as compromised immune systems. Raw food we get to feed our dogs is a far cry from ‘wild caught’ raw, and the possibility of passing on surface microbes, salmonella, trichinella and other parasites isn’t worth the risk. Cooking meat at low temperatures is much preferable.

      • Sarah Osborne on June 12, 2015 at 9:38 am

        Dogs (even those with cancer) have a digestive system built to eat raw meat. There is an INCREDIBLY low risk for things like salmonella which the acidity in a dog’s stomach will kill or trich (which has been eradicated from US pork, anyway). Cooking removes nutrients. If you are going to cook, the diet must be supplemented with vitamins. That’s not necessary with a properly balanced raw diet. The only dogs I would recommend against a raw diet for would be those that are truly immunocompromised or on immunosuppressant medications.

  41. Marie Breska on June 14, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Hi I’m really don’t know much abuot Low histamine food but my dog Pug had MCT stage 1 and I’m cooking and freezing individual portions for each day but how do i serve the food ? if defrosting do release histamine as well ?

    • Susan Kazara Harper on June 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

      Hi Marie, Well done for taking this on. Cooking special meals is a lot of work, but I know you pour your love into each portion.
      Basically, if you have the time to defrost the food and let it warm to room temperature, you’ll negate any problem with heating to a higher temperature. But as Dr Dressler recommends, don’t make this food issue a big problem if your dog is not experiencing itching or other histamine symptoms. I hope the blog helps!

      • Marie Breska on June 16, 2014 at 4:10 am

        Thank you so much 🙂 I’m still looking for recipes for low histamine dog treats i really appreciate your help
        Best Marie and Hazelnut the Pug

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