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

Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli and Cabbage in Dog Cancer Diet?

Updated: October 10th, 2018

Here is a link to a page on the store where you can get a free download of the Dog Cancer Diet eBook, which is excerpted from my full-length book, The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.  You are invited to get this information-packed bundle of everything you need to know for your dog’s diet when dealing with canine cancer.

This diet is specifically designed for dogs with cancer.  There are some rather strange ingredients that you may notice and wonder whether maybe Dressler has lost a few marbles along the way.  Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage for dogs?  Seems pretty unnatural, right?

Right you are.  Dogs in nature do not eat these strange plants.  But the truth is that dogs with cancer need extra help, and if they were provided with only what was found in their natural diet it would not be enough.

So what is the deal with Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage?

These were specifically chosen for several reasons.  One big one is that they help with detoxification.  And no, I’m not talking about some vague idea of “detox” or “cleanse” or “purify the body”.   Let’s look at some science and forget the woo-woo stuff for a moment.  (You will recognize this approach as the basis for Full Spectrum Care in the Guide, where we look at all treatment options without bias then choose what makes sense from a scientific point of view.)

So what are we talking about when we say “detoxification”? Of course we are getting rid of toxins.  There are toxins from outside the body and there are plenty produced inside the body too. And there are tons of toxins in a body with both cancer cells and chemotherapy or radiation at the same time. From cancer, we have too much lactate from cancer cells gobbling up all that starch (sugar), the release of acid, and lots of damaging free radicals from inflammation. From chemo and radiation we have a variety of toxic effects that may be seen, although many dogs do fine with little obvious reactions.

Many of these toxins can promote later cancer growth, particularly those produced by the cancers, but also even sometimes those created by our treatments (these are rare).

Obviously, we want a way to deal with toxins that does not interfere with treatments.  There are many, many different ways to do this, but a simple one is diet. And here is where the Brassica plants like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage come in!

These plants stimulate what are called the Phase 2 detoxification systems.  Detoxification has 3 Phases. Phase 1 makes the toxin more easily dissolved in water.  This will allow it to get filtered out in the urine  (from the kidneys) and also in the bile (from the liver) later on in detoxification.  Phase 2 adds chemical groups to increase this water solubility. These mainly happen in the liver cells. Phase 3 involves shipping the water soluble toxin to organs to get rid of it from the body, mainly getting dumped into the urine thanks to the kidneys and into the lower intestine in the bile from our friend the liver.

Phase 1 reactions are weird because sometimes they increase toxicity of the substance.  Oops! But thankfully, the Phase 2 systems catch the bulk of these and stick chemical groups onto these Phase 1 created toxins to inactivate them.  And guess what veggies crank up the Phase 2 systems?  You guessed it: Brussels sprouts and cabbage!

These veggies also help out with Phase 3 detox too.  They add bulky fiber (without adding sugar).  This stimulates more release of bile into the intestine, and freely flowing bile is a big part of clearing toxins in Phase 3 detox.

You will read more information like this in the Guide.


Dr D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment

  1. Sara Barton on December 22, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    What about the use of CBD oil for pain relief in dog with Chrondrosarcoma. It seems to be controlling her pain from half grapefruit size rib tumor but does it interfere with apoptosis?

    • Cheri Aristo-Frey on February 6, 2018 at 8:11 am

      My guy has liver cancer and I give him CBD oil 2ce daily…I have seen great quality of life changes in him. He was given a survival rate of 1-4 months and is now at 6 1/2 months…tumor is still present and slowly increasing in size but we just up’d the dosage to try to fight it harder as it is said to POSSIBLY have cancer fighting benefits.

  2. […] Cancer Blog, written by the canine cancer veterinarian who developed Apocaps, has a list of detoxifying foods, as well as a free cancer diet download. The site is a wealth of information on everything from […]

  3. Jen Lee on November 24, 2012 at 4:54 am

    I check back to this page from time to time to see if anyone has answered this question – “Are there any guideline as to how much of these veggies are okay before they might start interfering with thyroid function”?

    I would really love to know the answer if anyone knows. I want to give my dog a broccoli seed extract supplement and am not sure how much to give… I guess since he’s almost 100 pounds I’ll give him 1/2 to 3/4 capsule? That should be enough for some benefit, but maybe not too much to interfere with thyroid function?

    Thanks so much for writing all these blogs though! I really appreciate all the knowledge!

  4. Doryan on September 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

    RE: Giving artemisinin with 2nd degree AV heart block.

    My chow chow was diagnosed with chronic lymphoctic leukemia. I was told by Dr. Lai and Dr. Singh that artemisinin can be effective against it. My chow has a second degree AV heart block. Is it safe to give artemisinin with this heartblock? Dr. Lai said artemisinin can affect the electrical activity of the heart. Please let me know what you think as I don’t want to cause a serious problem with his heart.

    thanks, Doryan and Ruskin

  5. Christie on September 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    My baby has lymphsarcoma, all of his lymphnodes are involved. I’ve started the cancer diet, and apocaps, it’s been about 2 weeks, but he doesn’t seem to be making any improvement. He also has seizure disorder and is on phenobarbital, and I know that apocaps can interfere with absorbtion, so I cut dosage in half as suggested on FAQ page. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Dr. Susan Ettinger on September 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      If chemotherapy is not an option (my recommendation for lymphoma) I would strongly encourage you to discuss prednisone with your vet. If actually kills thr lymphoma cells, just not as well as when combined with chemo or for as long. But there is about a 50% response rate with pred, and it does increase survival time in comparison to no therapy. You will have to cut back on Apocaps, but in general it is not recommended with seizure medication anyway. Obviously discuss with your vet, and good luck. I have a few posts on lymphoma you can check out, and there is more into in lymphoma in the Guide.
      All my best, Dr Sue

  6. Ben on August 20, 2012 at 4:23 am

    I’d like to ditto LisaT’s question from above: Is there any guideline as to how much of these veggies are okay before they might start interfering with thyroid function?


  7. Judi on August 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Dr. Dressler have you evaluated the kibble Great Life.I changed when my 13 year olddog who had anal cancer and also feed to my younger dog. Salmon no grain or potato. Thank you

  8. Sandra Trimble on August 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I have your Anti cancer diet for dogs and I have started my dog who has osteosarcoma on it. I had already been giving him Essiac tea and have now got him on Artemisinin as well. Are the two treatments compatible? I am concerned about the amount of iron in the Essiac and whether it could interfere with the Artemisinin. Unfortunately surgery is not an option for my guy as he has arthritis in his rear knees and the vet doesn’t think his legs would take the added stress. He is an 8 year old Lab-Newfie cross and very large. Can you give me any advice??

  9. Vicky on August 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Is there any preventative foods. And methods for fleasm heart worms etc, so my new baby doesn’t have to take these poisons

  10. Garry Sheen on August 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

    I’ll be using a broccoli extract which contains a standardized concentration of sulforaphane glucosinolate, for our dog, Logan, Should we still consider adding in fresh broccoli, or does the extract basically do the same job of detoxing?

  11. Christie on August 6, 2012 at 6:46 am

    I rec”d email headed Diagnosing mast cell rumors but there was no content! My dog has these rumors. Please re send the email. I really am interested in this topic!
    Thanks, Christie

  12. pam on August 6, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I noticed my dog had a flea which means there are more. I don’t wish to put poison flea control on her but the flea comb just doesn’t work with her coat.
    What is the best flea remedy or poison I can put on her with bladder cancer?
    Thank you.

    • Cheryl on May 28, 2019 at 2:34 am

      My dog has cancer yet she has been grain-free her entire life of 13 yrs. (Wellness Brand)
      I’m Paleo so mostly she gets meat and veggie scraps from the table. Of course she eats no sugar, no potato or corn chips either.
      I noticed she started having stomach trouble, lots of noises coming from her stomach and now she has a big internal tumor inside her stomach. So I did everything I should have and yet she has cancer. 🙁

      Our water does have some ammonia in it, because I tested it due to us having a goldfish aquarium. I am now giving her distilled or spring water when I fill her water bowl.

      She is overweight despite not eating grains and is ravenous all the time. I feed her twice a day.

      • Molly Jacobson on May 28, 2019 at 9:20 am

        Hi Cheryl. I’m so sorry to hear about your girl. Unfortunately, no matter how “right” we are in our care for ourselves and our dogs, cancer is still the number one killer for dogs, and it’s up there for humans. One out of two dogs over the age of ten will get cancer. One out of three dogs of all ages get cancer. Some breeds die of cancer almost exclusively: 75% of goldens, for example, die of cancer! Meanwhile, one out of two male humans will get cancer, and one out of three female humans. It’s not just our diet, it’s our environment and our stressful lifestyle. Also, cancer is one of the oldest diseases known to man — the ancient Greeks wrote about it. So it’s always been with us, and the skyrocketing rates in recent decades are largely due to things we can’t necessarily control. The way I look at life now is that I try to mitigate the risk of developing cancer, rather than preventing it. I also treat cancer as a manageable long-term disease, rather than trying to cure it. I know you feel like you failed, and I understand that feeling all too well. But I’m here to tell you, after over a decade of working with readers of Dr. Dressler’s book, that there is literally NO WAY that you could have controlled your pup’s destiny so much that you could have definitely avoided this. There is no one cause for cancer: there are multiple causes, and they can all intersect to trigger the condition. It takes a “perfect storm” to have cancer take root, in other words. It’s not your fault, and it’s WONDERFUL that you fed your dog so well all these years! Thirteen years of yummy, nutrient dense food led to a high quality of life for her. I’m convinced that dogs don’t really mind how they die — they just want to live well until it happens. It sounds like you are doing extraordinarily well at keeping your girl healthy and happy so far, and even with a tumor, she can still have a high quality of life. Be well.

  13. LisaT on August 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Is there any guideline as to how much of these veggies are okay before they might start interfering with thyroid function?