Treating Cancer May Be A Mouthful Away

By Shawn Messonnier, DVM

Sadie's bag lunch may not fill the bill for a healthy diet. Proper diet and nutritional supplementation are an important part of cancer therapy.

At this year's meeting of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association, there were a number of exciting presentations. As always, taking the holistic view towards common problems sheds new light on many treatments that we don't always think of when taking the conventional approach. While there are many natural treatments that can be used in the treatment of pets with cancer, feeding the correct diet with the proper nutritional supplements is the foundation of any cancer treatment program.

There is no doubt that cancer is a feared disease and one that is all too often diagnosed. Many owners fear the treatment more than the disease itself. As a result, many holistic veterinarians are called upon by the pet-owning public to offer something different from chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Dr. Greg Ogilvie, a renowned oncologist, presented data on incorporating nutrition into the prevention and treatment of cancer. In my opinion, nutrition is often overlooked when treating most conditions. However, feeding the proper diet and nutritional supplements is the one "treatment" where owners can make a difference! Because of the devastating metabolic consequences of neoplasia, we must always incorporate sound nutrition when treating the cancer patient.

Blackie naps after a convenient but inferior dry food dinner. While there are often many treatment options for cancer, we often overlook the simple aspect of nutrition.

Studies demonstrate that both people and pets with inadequate nutrition cannot metabolize chemotherapy drugs adequately, which predisposes them to toxicity and poor therapeutic response. This makes proper diet and nutritional supplementation an important part of cancer therapy.

There are several metabolic abnormalities that occur in the cancer patient. First, cancer patients often have too much lactic acid in their bodies. Since metabolism of simple carbohydrates produces lactate, a diet with a minimum of these carbohydrates might be preferred. (As a side note, pets with cancer that need IV fluids do better when given fluids that do not contain extra lactate.)

Regarding dietary protein, Dr. Ogilvie notes a pronounced decrease in certain amino acids in the plasma of cancer patients. If left untreated, these amino acid deficiencies could result in serious health risks to the patient. Supplementation with the deficient amino acids might improve immune function and positively affect treatment and survival rates.

Most of the weight loss seen in cancer patients occurs as a result of depleted body fat. Tumor cells, unlike normal healthy cells, have difficulty utilizing lipids for energy. Dogs with lymphoma fed diets high in fat had longer remission periods than dogs fed high carbohydrate diets.

The use of omega-3 fatty acids can promote weight gain, may have anti-cancer effects, and warrants special mention. In people, the use of omega-3 fatty acids improves the immune status, metabolic status, and clinical outcomes of cancer patients. These supplements also decrease the duration of hospitalization and complication rates in people with gastrointestinal cancer. In animal models, the omega-3 fatty acids inhibit metastasis and the formation of tumors. Finally, the omega-3 fatty acids can reduce radiation damage to skin in those pets undergoing radiation treatments.

While there are often many treatment options for the various malignancies experienced by our patients, we often overlook the simple aspect of nutrition. In the next decade, prevention and treatment will most likely include a focus on nutrition in veterinary medicine, just as our human counterparts are now doing in the human medical field. The research is out there - there is no doubt that cancer patients have deranged nutrient metabolism that can negatively affect the outcome of conventional therapies. Additions of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidant vitamins and minerals, and possibly shark cartilage to the diet of cancer patients may help improve survival and possibly decrease the chances of pets contracting cancer in those who are currently cancer -free.


Ogilvie, G.; Nutrition and Cancer: Frontiers for Cure! Proceedings of Am Hol Vet Med Assoc, 1998, 69-73.

Dr. Shawn Messonnier is the holistic columnist for Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy magazine. To learn more about the holistic treatment of cancer and other diseases and nutritional supplementation for your pet, or to obtain a free Pet Care Naturally Resource Guide, visit his new website (end of May) at .


Comments (9)

Topic: Volume 8 Issue 6
4/5 (8)
1 2 > Last
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Kylie says...
Do i mix the hard oil in his feed or melt it
16th October 2016 9:51pm
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
Jamie says...
Costco sells organic raw coconut oil in a double pack for a decent price. I give it to my French Briards for a nice healthy show coat and for skin and nails. Just started using it on my horses. Specifically due to the drought/dry weather. I have a neighbor who uses a mixture of organic raw coconut oil and raw honey as a poltice on cuts and bad wounds on her horses and the results are amazing. They heal without so much as any scaring. Smile
13th July 2016 3:24am
Emma says...
Hi I have been researching beet products extensively and while some beets are GM (genetically modified) some aren't - for example speedi beet made by British horse feeds is made from all natural sources and not GM. I think it is important to note as an all natural version can be sourced.
4th April 2015 5:24pm
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarFull Star
karen hughes says...
Hi have been using pure coconut oil for 1 year with great results I also give chia seeds ground up in coffee grinder I use unmollased s beet will try to source coconut fibre my mare is 21she gleams with health natural horse natural feed treats are celery and a few peanuts in shells she can't have carrots or apples as insulin resistant I use insulite from Hilton herbs to treat this I do not use metformin unopened in my tack room 5 years on painkilling herbs meadowsweet devils claw instead of ... Read More
30th November 2014 5:43am
Full StarFull StarFull StarFull StarEmpty Star
Liz says...
Where do you buy the coconut oil from
20th May 2015 3:39pm
1 2 > Last
Page 1 of 2

Add Comment

* Required information
(never displayed)
Bold Italic Underline Strike Superscript Subscript Code PHP Quote Line Bullet Numeric Link Email Image Video
Smile Sad Huh Laugh Mad Tongue Crying Grin Wink Scared Cool Sleep Blush Unsure Shocked
Remember my form inputs on this computer.