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

Raw Diet Dogs and Dog Cancer

Updated: October 10th, 2018

Summary

Do raw diet dogs have to change what they eat after a cancer diagnosis? Is a raw diet good for dogs with cancer?

Many raw diet dogs — those who are fed raw meats — ought to have their diets modified after a cancer diagnosis.

Much attention has been placed as of late on raw foods for dogs.  Many raw food diets are really excellent, balanced nutritional rations that can significantly improve health.

We should clarify whether we are discussing a diet for healthy, vigorous dogs, or whether we are talking about a dog afflicted with cancer.  These are two different states of body health, two different instances.

One main difference is that dogs, at least those dealing with aggressive, malignant, hard-to-cure cancers, usually are walking around in a state of immune compromise. This means their immune system is not as good as that is the body of an average dog without cancer.

If the dog has a cancer and is also on chemotherapy, or being treated with radiation, the immune compromise will be even more severe.  These dogs, in particular, have quite weakened systems due to the effects of the chemo or radiation on the white blood cells and other body parts.

What is the connection between the immune system and raw diets?

Well, when we are talking about raw food, we can sometimes be talking about certain bacteria found in the uncooked food, in particular meats.  One of the benefits of cooking is that you kill germs.  These microbes are most commonly found on the surface of the food, after it is stored for a while in the plastic and foam containers we buy at the store.

A dog with cancer, in particular an overwhelming cancer, and most especially a  dog on  immune suppressing treatments, is susceptible to these microbes.  And they may get sick as a consequence.  Some examples of these disease causing bacteria are salmonella, e.coli, and campylobacteria.

These germs can cause food poisoning.

Old, ground, raw meat is the highest risk of containing disease-causing microbes like these.

Now, does this mean that every dog who eats raw meat will get sick? Of course not!! But guess what? If only 10 out of 100 does, and your dog is one of those ten, it will matter a lot to you!

In the next post we will look at more aspects of this area of health management.

Best,

Dr D

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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  1. […] happened after he got cancer. When we read what Dr. Dressler wrote this in his blog post, “Raw Diet Dogs and Cancer,” it really hit home with us, which is why we are sharing this food for thought with […]

  2. Pochy on May 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    My Diamond since she was diagnosed with cancer in his leg, we changed her food to natural food, besides that, if we gave her raw meat had to be of good quality and fresh the same as we ate our family … the vet gave her only three months to live …. hard but exactly one year, with much care and MUCH LOVE! That was the reazon why she live a longer life.

  3. Mark on January 6, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I’ve been commercial raw foods since our dane has had lymphoma. In remission now. The commercial ones go through testing and “cleaning” to rid bacteria, and are frozen that kills even more.

    She’s been doing great, but as of a week ago it seems like within a day she has gone downhill. Blood work was excellent and vet just put her on some pain meds, but I don’t she handled those well and I stopped. The dog now barely gets up, barely eats (I even started simmering the raw food, which helped some) and has lack of motor control/coordination.

    She also has lyme’s that was in remission, testing tonight to find out if it’s back.

    not sure where I’m going here, but our dog has done well on raw, could food poisoning cause such problems, but no digestive issues?

  4. Maryaan Wong on April 30, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Would like to know more on raw diet against cancer dogs

  5. ramak on December 28, 2009 at 5:47 am

    hi
    what about raw vegetarian foods?
    raw food eaters say that eating raw vegetables makes immune system better……..?

  6. Anu on May 4, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Great article! I love your blogs on natural alternatives to cancer and effects of any natural food or supplements on dogs. Based on one of your previous blogs, Iam still giving my dog turmeric a couple of times a week. Mostly I add turmeric to the water in which I boil her chicken. It gets absorbed in the meat and she loves the taste! What all that turmeric is doing to the color of my kitchen sink is another story 🙂

  7. Judith Conigliaro on May 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks for your article. I have a dog with bladder cancer and on herbals supplements and meds from the vet. I opted NOT for removal due to age. I appreciate knowing all of your input. My vet gets your newsletters (via me) and she is working to maintain quality of life with me and I am grateful for that.

    Thank you again!

    Judith Conigliaro
    and Abigail

  8. mags on April 30, 2009 at 9:26 am

    It’s great to know this kind of information. Thanks! Did you by chance see this article about Zootoo’s shelter makeover? http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-04-12-zootoo-shelter-clash_N.htm