Should you feed a raw meat diet for dogs with cancer, or cook it?
I’ve been feeding raw dog food since 2015 and recently had to ask myself this very question. That’s because my pup Missy is no longer in remission from cancer.
The quick answer is that it depends on the individual pup. If you’re interested in our story, keep reading!
Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. I may earn compensation when you click on the links at no additional cost to you.
3 Years Of Remission From Cancer Are Over
Here’s the background information for you. A few days ago, I found out that my Boxer mix Missy is no longer in remission from cancer.
She fell into that category for pretty much exactly 3 years after her initial cancer diagnosis in late 2014. Back then, the thyroid tumor was removed and she got 3 rounds of intravenous chemotherapy (carboplatin).
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that Missy’s first cancer diagnosis was the reason why I made the switch from kibble to raw.
Raw dog food boosts the immune system, and that’s exactly what my little cancer patient needed after her treatment.
It also prompted me to make other lifestyle changes in her and her brother’s lives. For example, eliminating excessive vaccinations and chemical pest preventatives. I also stopped using dryer sheets after I realized how many chemicals are in them.
But now, our oncologist Dr. Ruslander discovered that the thyroid tumor is back and has spread to her lungs. F***.
Unfortunately, that means that there’s no cure for this diagnosis. All we can do is slow the spread of the cancer, and provide end of life support. 😞
If there’s any good news in that discovery, it’s that Missy was in remission for MUCH LONGER than he initially expected.
I fully credit her raw dog food diet for this extra time!
Raw Meat Diet For Dogs With Cancer: What’s Changing
I noticed that Missy’s stools were getting a little loose, so I began adjusting her diet to her weakened immune system.
In addition to that, I’m treating her with an oral chemotherapy drug called Palladia.
Oral Chemotherapy Drug Palladia
Missy is taking Palladia on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday basis. So far, she hasn’t shown any side effects yet. Possible side effects are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, lack of appetite, and tarry stool.
She’ll be taking the drug right before breakfast and will need to have bloodwork done every 2 weeks for the first 8 weeks of treatment. After that, bloodwork is required every 2 months. That’s if we’ll continue the chemotherapy route.
Since the pills can’t be crushed or chewed on, I didn’t just add them to her food dish but pilled her by hand.
She didn’t love it, but she calmly let me push the pills down her throat. She’s such a good little patient!!
Main Changes In Missy’s Food: What’s The Ideal Diet For Raw-Fed Dogs With Cancer?
I checked out the website DogCancerDiet.com and read their 56 page report excerpted from their book The Dog Cancer Survival Guide. The report is essentially an ebook that you can download for free in exchange for your email address.
In it, Dr. Demian Dressler goes over the ideal diet for K9 patients whose immune systems have been compromised due to cancer.
The main change in Missy’s diet is that I’m no longer offering the food raw.
Instead, I’m now lightly cooking the muscle meat and secreting organs.
I’m also replacing starchy veggies with certain types of starch-free cooked/puréed veggies.
The first batch of veggies I cooked for her consisted of a brussels sprouts/broccoli/shiitaki mushroom blend. She LOVED it!
Of course Buzz got a taste as well since he started drooling as much as Missy while I was filling the food processor with the veggies.
Other veggies than can be offered to K9 cancer patients are cooked mung beans, cabbage, and red & yellow bell peppers.
I also went ahead and made a batch of turmeric paste. That’s because it has anti-inflammatory benefits and actively fights cancerous cells.
I’ll be including it in Missy’s meals on a daily basis again. You can find the recipe for it here on my blog.
I then cooked up a cup of brown rice, as it came recommended by Dr. Dressler. While brown rice is a carb, it’s considered a complex carb.
According to Dr. Dressler, it “can be a good source of energy for your dog’s body while she fights cancer” (Grains and Cancer, ebook p.8). He also mentions that rice bran contains polysaccharides which are likely cancer fighters, so I’m giving it a shot.
2 days into feeding Missy the lightly cooked meat and boiled/pureed veggies, and she seems to be doing great on it.
I’m particularly pleased with this as she had some diarrhea over the course of the past few weeks.
Since she ate exactly the same raw dog food as Buzz, I’m assuming that the diarrhea is linked to her cancer. Her weakened immune system doesn’t seem to be absorbing it the way it used to when she was cancer free.
Adding Other Whole Food Supplements
Dr. Dressler also suggests adding other whole food supplements. For example, freshly minced garlic, cottage cheese, fresh berries, sardines in water, fresh minced leafy herbs, and a few others.
I wrote about the benefits of garlic in my blog post Myth Buster: Garlic is good for dogs, after all!
I do recommend you check out his ebook for in-depth information if you’re interested in the topic.
Second Opinion From A Holistic Veterinarian, Dr. Charles Loops
After talking with Lizzy Meyer, I reached out to a holistic veterinarian here in NC. I did that because I wanted to get a second opinion as far as Missy’s cancer treatment is concerned.
Lizzy works in holistic animal care education. She has a wealth of knowledge about whole food nutrition and energy work, both for dogs as well as for horses.
It’s raw dog food from Darwin’s Natural Pet, and I only cook it very, very lightly.
Dr. Loops explained that some dogs who have cancer do great with raw dog food, and others like Missy digest it better lightly cooked.
Cancer Support Formula Ingredients:
Whitefish (Pollock), Turkey Necks, Turkey Gizzards, Broccoli, Beef Liver, Turkey, Beef Kidney Fat, Whole Dried Eggs, Mushrooms (Maitake, Shitake), Blackberries, Blueberries, Parsley, Raspberries, Tomato Powder, Fish Oil (Source of DHA), Cod Liver Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Turmeric, Spirulina, Oyster Shell Powder, Green Tea, Vitamin E, Zinc Proteinate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Black Pepper, Manganese Proteinate, Iodine (EDDI)
Also, I only ended up treating Missy with the oral chemo for those first 2 weeks. That’s after consulting with Dr. Loops.
Missy’s taking several homeopathic remedies now, along with one traditional anti-seizure medication. You can read more about those topics under “Related Reading” mentioned below.
Have you had to deal with cancer in your dogs? Which approach did you end up taking? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!