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

Food and dog cancer: omega 6 fatty acids

Updated: December 12th, 2018

Many people ask me if dog food has something to do with the development of cancer in their pet.  Before I devoted my time to studying the topic, I never gave it much thought.  Nah, I would say.  Dog cancer is mostly genetic, viral, a few carcinogens…who knows?  “There is no real cause of cancer”, I would say.

Baloney.  There are causes of cancer, and they are real.  Most of us vets just don’t take the time to really investigate the literature. Due to our personal biases, lack of motivation, no time, fatigue, or professional indoctrination, we sometimes condemn before investigating.

A great example is dietary omega 6 fatty acid excess. Fats are grouped according to their chemical structure.  Two biggies are the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acid groups.  Dog’s bodies and our own are designed to have a certain ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids in the diet.

Too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3, and bad things happen.  These bad things are not minor, folks. Excessive intake of omega 6 fatty acids suppress cells that are key in the body’s natural cancer-fighting ability (Natural Killer cells and cytotoxic T cells).  The omega 6 group promotes inflammation, which is critical in cancer development.  They also stimulate cancer cells directly by turning on a path in the cancer cells called PI Kinase, one of the central signaling events in cancer cells which make them behave like…cancer cells.

Where do omega 6 fatty acids come from? Next time you are at the grocery store, read the panel on some popular dog foods.  Look for corn (grain, oil, meal), vegetable oil, and beef fat (lard, tallow), to name a few.  Foods are put together to be successful enterprises (profit), and omega 6-rich items are favored for this reason.

There are ways to offset the effect of the omega 6 excess in dog foods.  I’ll go over some ways in upcoming posts.  Stay tuned!


Best to all,

Dr Dressler


Leave a Comment

  1. Sylvia on February 16, 2023 at 3:54 pm

    My dog is healthy. Would this oil “Udos oil 3.6.9 blend” a healthy recommended proportion of omega 6 when mixed with homemade food?

  2. […] Demian Dressler (aka the “dog cancer vet”) wrote an article indicating that we should seriously limit foods for both people and pets containing ingredients […]

  3. Trish on February 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    How many milligrams of omega 6 is too much for an arthritic dog please? 27kg/ 60lb

  4. Joe on July 12, 2010 at 4:12 am

    Question, my dog has a sinus carcinoma. What supplements would you recommend to help fight the cancer? I am currently giving him grizzly salmon oil, pure gold hemp oil and a product called omega glo-coat with omegas 3-6-9. Am I suppose be giving him any omega 6 because I read this causes the inflammation?

  5. Ella on March 21, 2010 at 12:09 am

    My dog is so far a cancer survivor, Chinook is a Pyrenean Mountain Dog he was 18 months of age in January 2006 when he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma.He underwent amputation and chemo (carboplatin).He came to us at 11 months of age he had panosteitis and had been on a dry food only diet until he came to live with us,we changed him to raw food diet with no dry food whatsoeve.We did not have the top up chemo when he was 10 months from diagnosis even though the oncologist told us he had a shadow in the lung .We chose to us natural therapies which is mainly medicinal mushrooms and fish oil and maritime pine extract, and he is still with us today 4 years later.A raw food diet of lots of meaty bones we only give him human grade meats so that it is free from parasites.we also give him goats milk.

  6. Jana on March 16, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    I believe that food has a lot to do with cancer. While some experts believe that cancer in dogs is simply caused by dogs living longer, I think that in the contrary it is often the reason for them living shorter.

    I feel that cancer in dogs is a civilization disease. With all the environmental pollutants, highly processed foods with questionable ingredients, there is no wonder that cancer and immune disorders are on the rise.

    Interesting point about the omega-6 fatty acids. I just wrote an article on unsaturated fatty acids recently, so I do know that omega-6 have pro-inflammatory properties. I can see how in excess this could cause a lot of problems.

  7. […] Food & Dog Cancer: Omega-6 Fatty Acids […]

  8. Gita on August 16, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    My dog had small nodes on her mammary for a long time which early this year became a big tumour rapidly. My desciion not to go to vets was based on all I read online -I cannot give her any distress and so far after the holistic things I am giving her she rapidly improved after a brief period of being a bit lethargic and always licking the tumour, etc, anbd became lively and active. This started in Febrauary this year. I am really hoping for some guidance as so much is confusing.
    From what I can gather she has mammary gland tumour and it is not benign. Surgery in such cases works (or works best if you will) at early stages-and this merely means postpones things. Surgery itself carries risks. Besides the pain involved before after and during…Chemo is not considered so very effective and also carries
    its own iatrogenic fallout.
    I want to know about the following:
    1. Ginger-how to give in the form of fresh root and how much-cooked or raw juice?
    2. Echinacea liquid-how much per day (they say high doses for 2 weeks and then stop)?
    3. Turmeric-I want to give from the powder we ourselves use in cooking- so how much and again raw or cooked with her soup?
    4. I am also giving Vit C ester total 1500 mg divided into 3 doses -so far bowel tolerance is not reached. Should I increase -I am giving it for so long -when do I stop and how (one should decrease gradually they say)?
    Thanks so much for your kind and compassionate help,

  9. Darlene on April 5, 2009 at 6:32 am

    Hello, here is some updated information on Omega 6 and Omega 3. Very interesting information, and scientifically based; not opinion. Something that I find interesting is that the Dog Community et al seems to have a better understanding on carnovior diet in regards to gooooooood health. People should basically read these articles. However, the Omega information may just want to be revisited to see what science has now proven in that area.

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