Previous posts in this series:
One of the most helpful things I learned from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide* was about diet and how a healthy one can benefit dogs with cancer. The book highly recommends a homemade diet for dogs with cancer, and as I explained in the previous post in this series, I opted to feed a partial homemade diet to Sheba and her siblings, as well as feeding her a higher quality kibble.
I explained the science behind the diet, and some basics about it. In this post I want to share some of the specific ingredients I have chosen to include in these meals, by category. Please read to the end of the post where I will share how you can get a free copy of the specific diet from the book, which is important especially if you plan to feed homemade meals exclusively.
The author, Dr. Dressler, advises ingredients from each of these categories be included. My previous post told a bit more about how to cook each one, which is important.
Meats: Lean meats with fat trimmed off are preferable, cooked slowly at low temperatures. My favorite thing to do is to roast a turkey. Not only does it feed the Dadz and me more than one meal, but there is plenty of meat for several meals for the dogs. I have also slowly simmered lean steaks, and even though chicken is not advised I will cook extra for the dogs if I’m cooking it for us. I also use the Nature’s Variety Raw Boost Mixers* when I haven’t had time to cook meat.
Other meats that are advised are fish, duck, and goat, though I haven’t tried any of these yet. I have read in other places that rabbit is also good. Dr. Dressler advises lamb and venison as well, but another favorite source of mine, SlimDoggy.com, advises that “cool” meats are preferable for dogs with cancer and that excludes those (you can read more of their post by clicking here).
Oils: Fish or krill oil, or you can alternate both. We are currently using Bonnie & Clyde’s Wild Omega-3 fish oil. Dogs can be allergic to krill oil, so we opted to stay with what we know has been safe for them.**
Calcium: I like to use cottage cheese, but chicken or turkey necks, and calcium citrate tablets are other options.
Grains: Most grains are not good for dogs with cancer because they break down into sugars. However, brown rice and oatmeal are both healthy and filling. Their bran contains polysaccharides that may help fight cancer. They are lower on the glycemic index so release less simple sugar into the bloodstream. I use steel cut oats which are quick and easy to cook, and Success brown rice in cooking bags – 10 minutes in the microwave and it’s done! It makes a good size helping so I often use it in a human recipe at the same time.
Vegetables: My favorites so far have been broccoli, cabbage, and red or yellow peppers. Since I use these a lot for the humans it’s easy to cook extra for the dogs. I also decided to try Brussels sprouts, and guess what? The dogs LOVE them, even the girls! I gave them each a bite after cooking them the first time and they all came looking for more! Others that are good are shiitake mushrooms and cauliflower. Though not mentioned in the book I’ve also read that red beets, spinach, and kelp are healthy choices.
Extras and flavorings: A salt substitute is recommended for flavoring, but I use a dash of the suggested balsamic vinegar instead. You can also use watered down pan juice from the meats you cooked, or a little water from canned tuna.
Other additions that add flavor as well as cancer-fighting, immune boosting properties are fresh garlic cloves or ginger root (both peeled and minced)**, fresh leafy herbs like parsley, basil, or oregano (minced), virgin coconut oil, sardines packed in oil (the dogs go nuts for those!), and fresh blueberries (my favorite but not Cricket’s), raspberries or blackberries.
I have never cooked with fresh ginger before….it smells SO good! I actually picked up a parsley plant when grocery shopping a while back, but some kind of bugs ended up getting to it. I now plan to plant some of my own herbs for the house, and I usually have an outdoor garden in the summer.
Important! If you are feeding the full homemade diet, you need to pay attention to quantities and you will also need to add a multi-vitamin and digestive enzymes** to your dogs’ diet. You may want to get a small kitchen scale for measuring.
If your dog has any other health issues, especially involving the liver, kidney, or pancreas, some of these ingredients may not be appropriate. You should consult with your veterinarian.
Since I am basically only using this diet as a topper to kibble a few days per week, I am not overly concerned with quantities, but used the book as a loose guide (and common sense). The dogs already get fish oil daily so I don’t add it to this. Sometimes I just put together what I have and don’t include ingredients from every category. However, we have to be careful to cut back the quantity of kibble so they don’t get too many calories. The oils especially can add a lot.
I make the “base mixture” advised and refrigerate unused portions for next time. The base mixture would be your fresh cooked meats, grains, vegetables, calcium and flavorings. The extras can be added just before serving. If I use the Raw Boost Mixers I add them then.
Good news! Do you want to learn more specifics about this diet? You can visit The Dog Cancer Blog and by signing up with your email you can receive a free 76 page e-book, which is basically pulled directly from the full book. I advise doing so before trying this diet.
As I’ve said before, we won’t really ever know for sure how much this diet helps Sheba fight her cancer. But what we do know is that it is healthy, she enjoys it, and the other dogs are benefiting by more fresh food as well. How could we go wrong?
Coming next: Supplements and immune system boosters, and our final post will be about preventing cancer.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and the things we are trying here are our own choice to try, after doing my own research. You should consult your own vet when making any significant changes to your dogs’ diet or lifestyle.
**Krill and fish oils, as well as garlic, ginger, and digestive enzymes have blood thinning effects. Be sure to stop using all of these 10 days before any surgery, and wait until 10 days after or once sutures are removed to resume their use.
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