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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, 2021

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

Leave a Comment

  1. Robyn on August 12, 2023 at 4:51 am

    Good Lord, you are in Maui?! Are you ok? I do pray for all those affected by this terrible situation.

    I’m trying to find independent data about the link between dog kibble and dog health for a Doctor friend of mine. I am a true believer in feeding dogs fresh food (not ready for raw) and most info is linked to someone selling a food product (which of course won’t fly with someone with his background). I told him I had heard that the life span of our dogs has declined since the introduction of kibble, I’ve heard this over and over. But can’t find the data. He has two beautiful big dogs and they are getting older. I hope to convince him to change his food. I need to know what to add to a homemade food that would replace the bone that is consumed in the wild? What organ meat should be added to a basic chicken recipe with a bit of veggies and fruit and a bit of brown rice? I would like to make food for my son’s dog. Maybe a supplement daily would suffice?

  2. […] Traditional dog food is sometimes full of grains that can be contaminated with toxins such as aflatoxin B1 that cause cancer. In addition, carbohydrates from grains and corn are converted to sugar in the body, which: fuel for cancer cells. […]

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