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. 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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