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

Osteosarcoma and Dog Food Link

Updated: October 10th, 2018

Some new information for dogs at risk or afflicted with osteosarcoma is out that I would like to share.

Osteosarcoma occurs in both dogs and humans, but is much more common in dogs. It is the number one bone cancer in the canine.

A recent study found that eight widespread brands of dog food contained high levels of fluoride.

It was found that there was a link between fluoride in drinking water and bone cancer in boys.  The areas with high fluoridation in the drinking water had higher levels of osteosarcoma. Here is the link.

In 2006, there was an interesting scandal surrounding the study involving suppression of this data and a dissenting researcher at Harvard.

Osteosarcoma does not have a single cause. There is no doubt there is a genetic basis due to the breed predilection (giant breeds), but genes are not the whole story.

This fluoride issue is discussed in The Dog Cancer Survival Guide in the osteosarcoma section on causes not addressed by conventional veterinary dogma.

The fluoride content found in these eight brands were found to be from 1.6 to 2.5 times higher, on a body weight basis, than the EPA’s legal maximum for fluoride intake in water for people.

There is a great article with some nice graphics to review by clicking here.

So what do we do with this information?  Well, owners of dogs afflicted with osteosarcoma or at risk for it (large or giant breeds, especially neutered or spayed) may want to limit the fluoride intake of their canine friends.

It is suspected that the high fluoride content of the foods was found in the added bone meal. Take home message?

Check your dog food ingredients. Avoid bone meal in these dogs and consider unfluoridated water sources. Calcium carbonate is an alternate calcium source for home made diet recipes. Specific recipes are in The Dog Cancer Survial Guide.

All my best,

Dr. D

Leave a Comment

  1. RK on August 1, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Essentially one needs to avoid as much as possible any chicken-by-product meal, poultry-by-product meal, chicken meal, beef meal, and especially bone meal.

    Any ingredient described as “animal meal” is basically ground bones, cooked with steam, dried, and mashed to make a cheap dog food filler.

    This is what I derived from the article about osteosarcoma and dogs.

    The article can’t state actual products because of a liability.

    If one buys higher end dog foods, read the label on them too, they should be okay.

  2. Sara on July 15, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    The abstract referenced merely demonstrates an association between fluoride and osteosarcoma. The study was published in 2006 and there has been no follow-up study to confirm or refute the findings in the past 3 years. As is stated in the abstract, “Further research is required to confirm or refute this observation.”

    • Dr. Dressler on July 19, 2009 at 7:16 am

      Indeed, no causality. And the other side of the argument is, what do we have to lose by avoiding it in our dogs at risk?? Nothing lost, possibly something gained. Since avoidance is a no-lose gambit, the data has relevance.

  3. Margaret H. on July 15, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I looked at all the links, and dug around a little, and found the original report from the testing lab. The independent lab did not publish the names of the dog foods in their report. This is common practice, to avoid lawsuits from companies adversely affected by negative publicity. I personally think it stinks, especially when we want to protect our dogs!!

    I have already cut commercial dog food out of my Sweetie’s diet (lab mix, lymphoma) based on Dr. Dressler’s advice in his book. But I’m never going to feed any other dogs commercial dog food again. And certainly none with bone meal in them.

    Dr. Dressler’s ultimate advice, to not feed your dog foods that contain bone meal if they have osteosarcoma, is good.

  4. Christine on July 14, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    My border collie/heeler cross died just shy of ten years old. He had splenic hemangiomas…probably spelled that incorrectly….and may not have named it correctly. While I know that is not osteosarcoma….we live in an small town that has high levels of naturally occuring flouride. Parents are warned not to allow their growing children to drink town water unless it is filtered, for example. Do you know if there is also a link to high levels of flouride in the drinking water and the occurence of splenic tumors??

  5. Pamela Samson on July 14, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I too would like to know the brands to AVOID. I had a greyhound boy who survived 46 1/2 months post amp and chemo…my miracle boy. I did MOSTLY home cooking but did add a bit of canned ( Wellness usually ) .
    Please tell us:)

  6. Chrissy on July 14, 2009 at 12:15 am

    What are the eight brands of dog food with high fluoride content?

  7. Jeanne on July 13, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    Since I have a breed with a high cancer rate (and of deadly cancers: Boxers) I would like to know the foods as well. I realize that it may cause some trouble to publish the names, but there’s got to be a way to let concerned dog owners know. I feed only the high premium brands (no super market food) but this is something I think not easily found by reading labels since most foods I know of contain bone meal and will not list fluoride on the label.

  8. kay walden on July 13, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Would you please name the brands of food concerned? My 10 year old beardie had bone marrow cancer which spread to the liver.Sadly she had to be put to sleep.
    Many thanks

  9. Sharon on July 13, 2009 at 6:59 am

    There wasn’t any information contained in your article about dog food and osteosarcoma. Would you please show this? Thank you.

  10. Barb on July 13, 2009 at 5:58 am

    So, what are the eight dog food brands that you write about in your article? Thanks.

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