Certain supplements have proven to help dogs under treatment for cancer. Special fatty acids and amino acids plus antioxidants aid in various periods during chemo and radiation therapy and slow cancer recurrence.
How DHA and EPA Help the Dog Cancer Patient
Most veterinary oncologists are now recommending dietary supplementation with the omeg-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA for cancer patients. These fats help reduce inflammation that causes decreases the appetite in these dogs. Reduced inflammation helps maintain a healthy appetite and reduce weight and muscle loss. It is also believed these fats may inhibit the spread of some types of cancer. DHA and EPA also help reduce the inflammation that is caused by chemo and radiation therapy.
Supplementation must be used with caution because excessive amounts of DHA and EPA can prolong blood clotting and suppress immune cell function. This is not desirable in these dogs and can interfere with cancer treatment. Many modern cancer treatments rely heavily on a proper functioning immune system to kill cancer cells. Your veterinarian or veterinary oncologists can provide the proper dosage.
Amino Acids Can Make a Difference
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The amino acids, glutamine and arginine, may also be important supplements for cancer patients. Some studies show that increased levels of glutamine in the diet can help muscles re-build and reduce the muscle loss caused by cancer. Other studies have shown that glutamine supplementation accelerates the repair of cells after radiation therapy. It also helps maintain immune function in the gut that is often disturbed during radiation and chemotherapy. Arginine has shown promise in promoting wound healing and decreasing postoperative wound infection after cancer surgery.
The experimental findings for glutamine and arginine are too early and too few to advocate their general use with cancer patients by veterinary oncologists. However, their safety, low cost and ready availability offer little downside for their use. Consult with your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist to find if glutamine and arginine are appropriate for your dog’s cancer treatment.
Antioxidants For Supporting Canine Cancer Treatment
Oxygen metabolism creates an abnormal oxygen molecule called a “free radical” or “Reactive Oxygen Species” or ROS. Free radicals cause cellular and DNA damage. It is thought that free radical damage overtime may be responsible for causing and enabling cancer growth. Dietary antioxidants like vitamins A, C, E and minerals selenium, copper, iron and zinc neutralize free radicals and help prevent cancer by reducing chronic cell damage. There is no evidence that antioxidants can cure cancer. But antioxidant supplementation may help prevent the re-growth of cancers that are removed or are in remission.
Chemo and radiation therapy create very large numbers of free radicals. Supplementing with antioxidants reduces the numbers of free radicals and minimizes the cell damage caused by these cancer treatments.
Supplements and diet will not cure cancer- and are not a substitute for standard cancer treatments, but they certainly have a role in cancer therapy. A nutritious homemade dog food formulated for cancer combined with the right supplements will aid treatment and also improve the quality of life for these canine patients.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN