If your dog is diagnosed with cancer, your veterinarian might prescribe a special diet to help him in the fight against the disease. Generally, dogs with cancer or who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment require food with more protein than the standard canine diet. As of the time of publication, there is only one prescription diet manufactured exclusively for dogs with cancer: Hill's Prescription Diet n/d Canine.
Hill's Prescription Diets
The goal of Hill's prescription diet for canine cancer is to provide good nutrition and perhaps lengthen the life of the patient. A prescription diet by itself cannot cure your dog. The type of prescription diet your vet recommends for you dog might depend on your pet's symptoms. If your dog has problems eating or swallowing, a soft, moist or canned prescription food is better than dry food. Because prescription diets designed for dogs with cancer have a high fat content, you should introduce the food gradually over a period of several days, rather than just change your dog's food. While that's good advice for any dog food change, it's especially important for animals with cancer, since you don't want to inadvertently cause gastrointestinal issues.
Chemotherapy Prescription Diet
If your dog undergoes chemotherapy, your vet might prescribe Hill's Prescription Diet n/d Canine because it's specifically designed with the canine chemo patient in mind. Such foods contain high protein levels, which help combat muscle wasting and give the dog additional energy. High fat levels make the food quite palatable, an important consideration since chemotherapy can make a dog lose his appetite. Chemotherapy canine diets are low in carbohydrates, but contain added omega-3 fatty acids and other ingredients for immune system support.
Holistic Cancer Diet
For certain types of cancer, your vet might recommend a holistic diet. Such diets generally consist of organic ground turkey or chicken, brown rice, eggs, certain vegetables and vitamins and supplements. Don't give your dog any holistic, raw or "natural" diet without checking with your veterinarian.
Your dog's prescription diet can't help him if he won't eat it. Unfortunately, cachexia -- body wasting -- is a common issue in canines with cancer. Your dog has lost his appetite and has no desire to eat even the tastiest of meals. Rather than give your dog his prescription diet once or twice daily, feed him small portions several times daily. If he appears nauseous or vomits frequently, ask your vet to prescribe antiemetic medications so he can keep his food down.
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: Cancer in Dogs
- MIchigan State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital: Overcoming the Challenges of Cancer Cachexia
- Holistic Veterinary Center: Cancer Diet
- Hill's Pet Nutrition: Hill's® Prescription Diet® n/d® Canine
- Embrace Pet Insurance: Preventing Cancer With Your Pet’s Diet
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.