How to Support the Diet of a Dog that is Suffering from Cancer

Dogs with Cancer Require Special Nutrition

A dog diagnosed with cancer has special requirements nutritionally.

To respond well to therapy, a sound approach to nutrition must be followed.

In animals suffering from cancer, a loss of weight is referred to as cancer cachexia.

Why Weights Loss Occurs

While a dog that is starving loses most of his weight in body fat, cancer cachexia is denoted by a loss of both muscle and fat. As a result, a severe case of malnutrition can develop. Dogs that have cancer suffer from weight loss or cancer cachexia because of:

-- A lack of appetite, due in part to nausea

-- The cancer itself - the tumor may cause difficulty in swallowing or digesting food or may cause diarrhea or vomiting

-- Metabolic changes, which can affect the balance of protein and the calories that are used

-- The radiation therapy used to treat the cancer, which can cause such side effects as inflammation of the digestive tract or mouth.

Making Nutritional Changes

Therefore, if your dog is suffering from cancer, you'll need to make the following adjustments nutritionally:

-- Make sure that the food you buy your dog is higher in fat. As tumor cells do not convert fat into energy as frequently as normal cells, the fat content should range from thirty to forty percent in a dry dog food.

-- Also, the dog food you buy should contain a high percentage of calories. That way, your dog can eat a small amount of food and receive his daily energy needs.

-- A moderate amount of protein is recommended too - around 35% in a dry brand.

-- In addition, the dog food should contain a minimal amount of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are more easily utilized by tumors and therefore support their growth. So, make sure the carbohydrate content of the food you give your pet makes up less than a quarter of the food's nutritional ingredients.

Helpful Nutrients for Canine Cancer Patients

In addition, specific nutrients are helpful to dogs who suffer from cancer. These nutrients include:

-- Arginine - an amino acid that provides immune system protection

-- Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, or Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) - both which are found in fish oils - a product which not only decreases the effect of cancer cachexia but can stop tumor growth as well. However, before you supplement your dog's diet with Omega-3, check with your veterinarian as too much of the nutrient can be dangerous.

Make the Food More Agreeable to Eat

To make sure that the food is more appetizing for your dog to eat, feed your pet small portions several times a day. Slightly warm canned dog food to enhance its scent or add water to kibble to make it easier and more palatable to eat.

What to Do if your Dog has a Food Aversion

So your dog does not develop an aversion to food, don't include your dog's medications in what he eats or drinks. Better to give the medicine before or after you pet consumes his meal. Also, if your dog is suffering from nausea, don't encourage him to ingest anything. Check with your vet to see if he can prescribe any medications to assist in this regard. Typically, dogs with cancer cachexia that do not want to eat can be helped by the use of a feeding tube. The tube makes it simple to feed the dog and administer his medicines. Using the tube will keep digestion normal too.