Time to bust another myth.
How many of you have heard that “protein is hard on the kidneys?” Well everyone, it is time for a reality check!
This matters quite a bit for dogs with cancer. Most of us with some interest in nutrition agree that there is sound logic that a high protein, moderate fat, low simple carbohydrate, low vegetable diet is a good choice for dogs generally, and specifically for systemic cancers.
This data is taken from human research (which is an interesting twist, since we humans can be the lab animals for the dogs!)
But wait! Someone said that a diet with higher protein is bad for the kidneys!
First of all, let’s widen back for just a second. As we all know, dogs used to live out in nature, right? And guess what these dogs ate? Did they go munch on corn on the cob? How about a delightful snack of wheat gobbled off the stem? Rice paddy foraging?
No, of course we all know that dogs were hunters primarily, and sometimes scavengers, and nibbled a little bit of berry, shoots, bark or things like that from time to time, when things were lean.
This tells us that the body of the dog, at least out in the wild, was pretty much adapted to eat a lot of protein (since hunted or scavenged meat has tons of protein).
So that’s the “back to nature” argument. What about the science argument?
There is a bit of confusion around kidneys and protein. Here’s the bottom line: if your dog has kidney disease already, high protein will increase the kidney toxins in the bloodstream.
This is very different from saying that high protein causes kidney disease. That’s wrong!
Here’s a study that showed that dogs with 75% of their kidney tissue gone did fine on a high protein diet. That means that dogs with 2 normal kidneys should be just fine. Now, unless some new data comes in, it is fine to give a dog a diet that is close to what they would be eating out in nature!
Another fascinating tidbit is that there could be a reason for dogs to eat certain some pre-digested plant materials. The source of this would likely be the stomach or intestine of the prey animals, which normally contain partially digested plant material.
Why do dogs in the wild like these bits?
I believe that they contain nutrients that are vital to helping the body later in life, when accumulations of deranged cells are supposed to be cleared out by normal body processes. This process is apoptosis, which is programmed cell death. Cells that are damaged, infected, oxidized, or otherwise deranged are supposed to commit suicide.
Certain substances in plant material are able to activate apoptosis. This process is a normal process that I focus on a lot in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide (which has tons more diet details), and was the basis for the supplement engineering behind Apocaps.
So what’s the bottom line? Dogs with cancer have different needs metabolically, and most vets with an interest in nutrition will recommend a higher protein diet for cancer patients. Unless your dog has kidney disease, and as long as you follow your vet’s directions, it is the best choice at this time.
Best to all,
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.
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