Food as Medicine
We hope that you and your pets never have to face a disease like cancer. It can be a very difficult struggle for both pet and owner, but new advancements in treatment could help the outcome look a bit sunnier. The good news is that every day food choices and supplements can play a large role in cancer treatment and prevention. Dr. Katy Nelson, a well-known veterinarian and friend of Freshpet, talks about the healing power of certain foods. For more great tips from Dr. Katy, follow her on Twitter at @drkatynelson or find her online at www.thepetshow.tv.
What can a diet do?
Diet is an important aspect of every pet’s life and is helpful in not only treating cancer, but preventing it as well. The basic principle of cancer nutrition is to reduce simple sugars and complex carbohydrates in our pets’ diets. Instead, look for foods that favor protein and non-saturated fats as the main energy sources. Fats contain more calories per gram than protein and carbohydrates, which is an advantage when animals already have cancer and can only handle eating small servings of food. When cancer is diagnosed, talk with your veterinarian about making changes to your pet’s diet. He or she knows your pet’s medical history, and can recommend a food that is well-suited for his condition.
Ideally, your vet will recommend a food rich in protein, fruits and vegetables with less processing, such as Freshpet. Many ingredients in Freshpet have medicinal benefits for your beloved companion, and can save the time and effort needed to cook a meal at home for your pet. Freshpet’s all natural products are filled with high-quality proteins and vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables. Vital recipes in particular are grain-free and contain 80% or more protein and 10% fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables like cranberries, pomegranate, and spinach also reduce the acid load, which is important because cancer progresses more in an acidic environment. Once you receive the go-ahead from your vet, remember to transition your pet’s food slowly to avoid stomach upsets, especially critical in pets with cancer. I recommend that pet parents gradually add Freshpet to their old diet, and slowly transition to using just Freshpet, adjusting the ratios over a period of about two weeks.
Supplements can make a difference
If your pet is undergoing cancer treatment such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, there are supplements that can come from or be added to your pet’s diet to help reduce risks associated with these powerful treatments. I often consider recommending additional antioxidants, such as Vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidants aid mostly in the prevention of cancer. When the consumption of antioxidants is inadequate, it has been hypothesized that this can lead to DNA damage, malignant transformation, and eventually has led to tumor development in numerous animals.
High quality protein and amino acids are also required for dogs with cancer. Glutamine, which is commonly found in n-3 fatty acids from fish and flaxseed oils, has been shown to increase disease-free intervals and survival time. Adding n-3 fatty acids as a supplement, or upping these by feeding a fish-based diet or one containing flaxseed oil like Freshpet Deli Fresh slice and serve rolls, must be carefully evaluated in each cancer case.
Finally, supplements like curcumin, vet-approved mushrooms, and artemisinin can also inhibit cancer growth. Curcurmin is known as the anti-cancer nutrient, and is sold as an easy-to-conceal supplement, as well as part of the spice turmeric. Artemisinin is known to be toxic to cancer cells while preserving healthy cells, and can be given orally in pill form. Extract from Yunzhi mushrooms has also been found to help pets with cancer live longer.
Remember, your veterinarian knows your pup or kitty best – be sure to check in with him or her before adding supplements or making dietary changes. We hope for a speedy recovery for any of our pets and pet parents fighting this difficult disease.