The diet in my book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide is designed specifically for dogs with cancer. When you read it, you might think some ingredients are kind of strange and wonder whether maybe Dr. 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 necessarily these strange plants.
But dogs with cancer need extra help. They are out of balance, so when we feed them, we need to correct that balance. If we only fed their “natural diet,” it would not be enough.
So why do I recommend Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage?
These veggies are superheroes when it comes to detoxifying the body and helping fight cancer.
The dog cancer diet is critical to your dog’s health, and it can start tonight. Chapter 14 describes this 4th of 5 Steps to Full Spectrum Cancer Care.
Brussels Sprouts Broccoli and Cabbage in Dog Cancer Diet: Why Use Them
These three veggies were chosen for several reasons. Each one has demonstrated health benefits for both cancer and detox support, among many other benefits. Check out these incredible articles on broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage on the World’s Healthiest Foods amazing website.
The nice thing about detoxification support for dogs with cancer is that they ALL can use it. Whether they are going through chemotherapy, radiation, or just on regular prescription drugs, they need extra detox support. Cancer itself is also creating waste products that need to be removed from the body, pronto. And what detoxes the body?
The liver. So let’s look at liver detox.
A Detox Is Not Woo Woo, It’s Foundational to Health
I’m not talking about some vague idea of “detox” or “cleanse” or “purify the body.” A liver detox is not a spiritual event, it’s a (hopefully) daily occurrence that is critical to health.
Let’s look at some science for a moment. (I look at all treatment options with as little bias as possible, and then choose what makes sense from a scientific point of view.)
What Exactly is a Toxin?
So what are we talking about when we say “detoxification”? Of course, we are getting rid of toxins.
What are toxins? Basically, anything that hurts the body is a toxin. There are toxins that come from outside the body, like insecticides or air pollution, and there are LOTS of toxins that are produced inside the body during normal body processes.
Here are just a few toxins that build up in a normal body minute by minute:
- Normal cells produce metabolic waste just by doing their normal jobs.
- Contaminants and pollutions from absorbed through the skin or through food, air, and water.
- Insecticides and pesticides.
- Food additives, drugs, or alcohol.
The body, in its infinite wisdom, puts all of these toxins in the liver, so that it can detox them away. How? We’ll go over that below.
Now, obviously, most dogs don’t drink or do drugs. But what about the drugs we give them as medicines? Oh, yeah, those can be toxins too, if left in the body. There are a variety of toxic chemicals that can be left by the drugs themselves, or created when they break down. Now, most dogs do fine on chemo and radiation, with little obvious reaction. Still, rarely, these toxins can promote later cancer growth.
Those toxins also end up in the liver to be detoxed away.
But even if a dog isn’t on chemo or radiation, there are a bunch of toxins that every dog with cancer deals with:
- Cancer gobbles up starch (sugar) and creates a toxin called lactate.
- Cancer releases acid, which is toxic.
- Cancer creates inflammation, which results in lots of damaging free radicals.
These toxins also end up in the liver, and if they aren’t detoxed, they can definitely lead to cancer growth later.
How to Detox the Liver without Interfering with Cancer Treatments
So how do we support the liver’s natural detox practices, without interfering with cancer treatments?
There are many, many different ways to do this, but a simple one that you can do at home is with your dog’s diet. And this is where the Brassica plants like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage come in!
Liver Detoxification has 3 Phases, all of which are designed to make fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins.
Why do we want water-soluble toxins? Because fat-soluble toxins will stay in the body virtually forever, nestled up in fatty little deposits (either in the liver or in other fat stores).
Water-soluble toxins, on the other hand, wash out of the body in urine and bile.
So … one of the liver’s main jobs is to take fat-soluble toxins and change them into water-soluble versions.
Phase 1 Liver Detox
Phase 1 uses nutrients from food to start the change from fat-soluble to water-soluble. There are lots of nutrients needed (one reason why diet is so important for all of us). It’s nice that Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli all contain good amounts of many of these nutrients.
Weirdly, sometimes the things that happen in Phase 1 actually increase the toxicity of the substance. Oops!
Phase 2 Liver Detox
Thankfully, the Phase 2 systems catch the bulk of these and inactivate them by using special chemical groups. And guess what veggies crank up the Phase 2 systems? You guessed it: Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage! (Also, garlic, another “helpful food” included in my dog cancer diet!)
Phase 2 in the liver adds these chemical groups to increase water solubility.
Phase 3 Liver Detox
Once everything is nice and watery, Phase 3 involves shipping the now-water-soluble toxin to organs of elimination. This rids it from the body!
Most of the water-soluble toxins exit via the kidneys in urine. But the rest exits the liver and goes into the gall bladder, where the bile, another bodily fluid, carries them out into the intestines so they can exit via bowel movements.
Turns out these veggies help out with Phase 3 detox too. They add bulky fiber (without adding sugar). This stimulates more release of bile into the intestine. Freely flowing bile is a big part of clearing toxins in Phase 3.
Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage all provide lovely anti-cancer support, AND can be used in all three phases of liver detox.
And that’s why I include these powerhouse veggies in the dog cancer diet!
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.