The n/d diet—Hill's Pet Food Company introduced the first cancer diet for dogs called n/d. The diet contains increased protein and fat, decreased carbohydrates, increased omega-3 fatty acids, and increased arginine. The composition of the diet is: protein, 37 percent; fat, 32 percent; carbohydrates, 21 percent; arginine, 3.1 percent (647 mg/100 kcal); omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil, 7.3 percent (1518 mg/100 kcal). In controlled studies dogs with lymphoma (lymphosarcoma) that were being treated with chemotherapy and being fed n/d had increased survival times when compared with dogs being treated with the same chemotherapy medications and eating a controlled diet.
Similar findings were found for dogs with nasal and oral cancer that were treated with radiation therapy and eating n/d. The conclusions from this study showed that: survival time increased 56 percent; quality of life improved due to decreased pain from dogs treated with radiation; remission periods were longer; and metabolic changes seen in pets with cancer were reversed.
While these findings are quite impressive, there is no evidence this diet helps dogs or cats with other forms of cancer. Despite this need for additional research, it is likely any pet with any type of cancer could benefit from this or similar diets. However, there are three potential problems with diet n/d:
- It is an expensive diet, especially for owners of large breed dogs.
- It is only available in a canned variety, most likely due to the high fat content.
- The protein source is an animal by-product, beef lung. (Owners who desire the most holistic and natural diet possible might object to this protein source.)
A homemade diet that approximates n/d can be attempted. However, due to the high level of omega-3 fatty acids in the food it is difficult (if not impossible) and expensive to prepare a similar diet at home.
Tofu (soy protein) protects the intestinal tract from damage that could occur with certain chemotherapy drugs and result in diarrhea. While not proven, tofu diets might be preferred for pets with cancer, especially those whose treatment regimen includes chemotherapy.
The homemade anticancer diet for dogs should have the following nutrient levels: protein, 35 to 40 percent; fat, 30 percent; carbohydrates, 20 percent. Cats can have higher protein and fat levels and minimal or no carbohydrates (cats do not have a strict dietary carbohydrate requirement). Antioxidants can be added to the diet. However, high doses might interfere with any chemotherapy medications, such as doxorubicin (Adriamycin), that work to kill cancer cells by oxidation. Several studies indicate high levels of antioxidants may help cancer cells grow and spread. For example, one study showed that cancer cells contain high levels of vitamin C, probably serving as an antioxidant to protect the cancer cell from oxidation. Because of the possibility of high levels of antioxidants interfering with treatment or cure, you should discuss this topic with your pet's oncologist prior to using increased levels of antioxidants.
Arginine decreases tumor growth and spread (metastasis); supplemental arginine is useful for pets with cancer. Glutamine may retard the cachexia (wasting) seen in many pets with cancer and may help protect against intestinal injury. However, some experimental studies have shown no benefit and occasionally increased vomiting or diarrhea in pets supplemented with glutamine. At this time, there is no clear-cut evidence for or against glutamine supplementation. The need for glutamine will vary from case to case.
Other recommendations include adding 60 to 100 mg of Coenzyme Q10 and 500 mg of vitamin E /450 kcals of food. The precaution mentioned above concerning antioxidants should be heeded.
Finally, many holistic veterinarians will add fresh vegetables (especially those high in indoles and antioxidants), such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and fresh garlic. Other supplements can be used as needed. Your veterinarian can decide which additional supplements might be helpful after consultation with you and a thorough examination of your pet.
Diet For Dogs With Cancer
Note: Before you start to feed your dog or cat a home-prepared diet, it is strongly recommended you discuss your decision with your veterinarian or a holistic veterinarian in you area. It is essential you follow any diet's recommendations closely, including all ingredients and supplements. Failure to do so may result in serious health consequences for your pet.
- 1/2 cup raw tofu
- 1 cup boiled lentils
- 2 cups potatoes boiled with skins
- 2 teaspoons chicken fat or canola oil
- 1/10 teaspoon salt
This diet provides 775 kcal and supports the daily needs of a 25-pound dog. It also provides 43.9 gm of protein and 22 gm of fat. Adding 2 tablespoons canned sardines increases the protein content by 6.2 gm and fat content by 4.6 gm.
- 1. Add arginine at 647 mg/100 kcal of food.
- 2. Add omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) at 1518 mg/100 kcal. This is very difficult to do, as the average omega-3 fatty acid capsule contains 180 mg. Work with your doctor to increase the fatty acid content as much as possible (adding fish such as salmon to the diet can help achieve this goal.)
- 3. Occasionally substitute 1/3 pound of cooked chicken, turkey, or lowfat beef for the tofu (in which case the lentils can be eliminated).
- 4. Occasionally substitute 2 cups rice or macaroni for the potatoes.
- 5. Add fresh, raw or steamed vegetables to increase the level of natural vitamins and minerals, as well as add flavor. Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per 1/2 cup.
- 6. Add 4 bonemeal tablets (10-grain or equivalent) or 1 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin/mineral supplement. Follow the label instructions. Alternatively, use a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets) for each 2 bonemeal tablets.
- 7. When possible, use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination), as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically synthesized vitamins. Use either Catalyn from Standard Process (at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 25 pounds) or Canine Plus from VetriScience (following label dosages) as the natural vitamin in this recipe.
Diet For Cats With Cancer
- 1/2 pound chicken
- 1/2 large hard-boiled egg
- 1/2 ounce clams, chopped in juice
- 4 teaspoons chicken fat or canola oil
- 1/8 teaspoon potassium chloride
- 100 mg taurine
This diet provides 471 kcal, 53.1 gm of protein, and 27.4 gm of fat and provides the daily needs for a 15-pound cat.
Next month we will discuss the different forms of Omega-3 fatty acids and how they interact with a cancer diet.
- Add arginine at 647 mg/100 kcal of food. This is a recommendation for dogs and has not been proven in cats.
- Add omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) at 1518 mg/100 kcal. This is very difficult to do, as the average omega-3 fatty acid capsule contains 180 mg. Work with your doctor to increase the fatty acid content as much as possible (adding fish such as salmon to the diet can help achieve this goal). This is a recommendation for dogs and has not been proven in cats.
- Occasionally add . cup rice, macaroni or potatoes. However, cats do not have a proven need for dietary carbohydrates, and adding additional carbohydrates supplies substrate (food) for cancer cell.
- Add fresh, raw or steamed vegetables to increase the level of natural vitamins and minerals, as well as add flavor. Most vegetables provide approximately 25 kcal per . cup. Many cats, however, will not eat vegetables.
- Add 3 bonemeal tablets (10-grain or equivalent or 3/4 teaspoon of bonemeal powder to supply calcium and phosphorus with a multivitamin/mineral supplement, following the label instructions. Alternatively, use a natural product from Standard Process (1 Calcifood Wafer or 2 Calcium Lactate tablets for each 2 bonemeal tablets) as the natural vitamin in this recipe.
- When possible, use natural vitamins made from raw whole foods, rather than synthetic vitamins (although both can be used in combination), as the natural vitamins also supply plant phytochemicals, enzymes, and other nutrients not found in chemically synthesized vitamins. Use either Catalyn from Standard Process (at a dose of 1 Catalyn per 10 pounds) or NuCat from VetriScience (following label dosages) as the natural vitamin in this recipe.
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Shawn Messonnier, DVM
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Shawn Messonnier DVM Past Supporting Member, Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Author, the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs, and Breast Choices for the Best Chances: Your Breasts, Your Life, and How YOU Can Win The Battle!
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