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

Latest on Dog Food and Cancer

Updated: April 13th, 2020

Is there a link between dog food an cancer?  Many feel the answer is yes, and there is evidence to support this link.

Today’s post will look at some of the newest thinking on dog food and cancer.

First of all, a dog’s wild diet is quite different from that of a modern, commercial diet.  In the wild, a meal was composed of mainly protein, with very little fat, and a small amount of vegetable (plant) matter. Bones supplied calcium and phosphorus, and internal organs provided vitamins.

This diet had almost no carbohydrates.  There was no cooking involved.  No preservatives were used.  The wild diet did not have any added oils like corn oil.

Here’s a bird’s eye summary on the latest linking dog food and cancer.

First, in preparing commercial food, it is heated at high temperatures.  The same can be said about cooking food in the kitchen at high temperatures.  This process produces potent carcinogens called acrylamide and heterocyclic amines, known carcinogens.

Second, carbohydrates which are turned into simple sugars are now known to be cancer cell’s preferred fuel.  Cancers have a particular type of metabolism that thrive on sugar intake.  By providing a diet rich in carbohydrates, we are also supplying cancer cell fuel.

Is it true that preservatives can cause cancer?  In some cases the answer is yes.  Nitrates and nitrites are not carcinogenic by themselves.  However, they change in the intestine by combining with other substances to make N-nitroso compounds.  These are potent carcinogens.

To make matters worse, the oils found in most commercial diets (and in packaged, ready to eat foods for us humans), are rich in oils like corn oil, vegetable oil and beef fat.  These oils contain very high amounts of a group of fats called omega-6 fatty acids.  These oils increase inflammation in the body.  There is now abundant evidence that cancer and inflammation are tightly connected.

Many dogs get overweight since their food is rich in calories.  Obese dogs make less of a cancer-fighting hormone called adiponectin. Lean dogs make much more of this important hormone.

What’s the bottom line?

Foods that are human grade, cooked at low temperatures, low in added harmful oils, and fed in proper amounts is the way to go.

For more on dog food and other things tied to cancer development, check out The Dog Cancer Survival Guide.


Dr D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

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  4. Carmen (Leslie) on November 27, 2018 at 12:26 am

    My dogs got sick, over and again with bacterial infections, causing tarylike & diaheria. I didn’t suspect Pedigree. I continued to feed Pedigree & get bacterial infections again.
    I switched to Blue Buffalo. Too late. Katie & Prissy were diagnosed with cancer, late June, 2018 & July 4, 2018.
    Prissy’s surgery to remove 6 masses, 2 of which were pre-cancerous. A few weeks later, 2 more showed up. When she entered surgery, the surgeon found that there were 4, not 2, masses/tumors.
    Katie, she has inoperable bladder cancer. She’s undergone radiation, chemo, & a battery of tests December 4, to check the status of her tumor.
    Prissy’s battery of tests for her monthly checkup is November 28.
    I’d like to feed the owners of Mars, the manufacturer, Pedigree, as the sole food in their diets for 1-2 years, to see how “sick” they get & how painful it is. I’ve spent upwards of $14,000since July, 2017, on medical to treat my Silky Terriers. Prissy will live . Katie has a few months of quality life, then I’ll have to put her down.
    Never feed Pedigree.
    The canned food began to contained 2 ounces of liquid per can. I took pictures of the liquid in two cans. It measures in a measuring cup as 2 ounces. Fraud??
    Bad food, willful negligence, at my kid’s pain & expence, & my hurt having to put them through cancer treatments, & how much all of this hurts me, for Mars (Purina & Pedigree() bottom line for “profit”.
    I wish I could upload a picture of the 2 oz of liquid in each can I fed my kids.

    • Kimmie on March 8, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      I just lost my 2nd Corgi in five years to Cancer. I fed what was supposed to be the “better” quality grain free dog food from the pet stores. As a child, we always had pets that ate cheap store brand dog foods. They never seemed to have all the issues I’ve seen my babies go through. Like you, I feel the dog food now days is in some way contributing to these sad outcomes. I will welcome another dog in my life at some point. However, I think they are going to eat human food only going forward. It hurts so much to lose them! I hope you get to spend a lot more time with your babies.

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