There is increasing evidence pointing toward the array of environmental toxins as causes of some cancers. Avoid pesticides on your pet if possible. Avoid using toxic lawn care products, and try to clean your house with non-toxic cleaners. As a society, we are exposed to more cancer causing products than we are even aware. A recent study showed the presence of over 75 environmental carcinogens in a group of ‘healthy’ people. There are many things that you can do to prevent Cancer. These changes will be good for both you and your pet.
Vaccinate for only what is absolutely necessary for your dog or cat. A limited vaccine program is highly recommended – and is especially important if your companion belongs to any of the breeds known to be more susceptible to cancer and chronic diseases. In pets, vaccines continually stimulate the immune system – in an older dog or cat this may bring on undesirable effects and many researchers have wondered about the increased frequency of vaccines over the past 30 years and increased incidence of cancer in pets. The bottom line: only vaccinate your pet for diseases they are likely to get if not vaccinated, and only give the vaccine boosters as often as needed. As a generality, most pets can go without any vaccines past the age of 10.
As with people, regular exercise will help prevent cancer. It keeps the body weight lower, and causes the release of stress relaxing hormones, called endorphins. Recent studies in people show that moderate to intense exercise can dramatically reduce the chance of developing cancer. In a Finnish study, the researchers determined that, after controlling for cigarette smoking, fiber and fat intake, age, and other variables, the most physically active men were the least likely to develop cancer, particularly of the gastrointestinal tract or the lung. Clearly this study can be drawn to our dogs; one simple technique to decreasing dog cancer is with regular exercise, at a minimum of 30 minutes twice a day.
Nutrition is the most important aspect of cancer prevention in your pet. When the body is supported with the building blocks needed to maintain healthy cells and repair damaged ones, healing from within can begin. It is best to feed a premium quality holistic diet. Avoid artificial colors, and ensure that a natural preservative is used. Some dogs thrive on a raw food diet; if you take the proper precautions, then this is an excellent option.
I encourage you to look at supplementing your dog or cat’s diet with nutrients that may play a role in cancer prevention. In people the general advice is to eat a diet including far more fruits and vegetables; the studies have shown that this simple change can reduce the risk of many cancers by 30-50%. In dogs we are typically not feeding anything fresh, instead hoping that the supposed dry and ‘nutritious’ dog kibble contains all that they need.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EFAs) should be added to every pet’s diet; in fact, EFAs are vital. Omega 3 Fatty Acids are great anti-inflammatories and some studies have suggested that they may lower the likelihood of some types of cancer. They are inexpensive and easy to give; you can give your dog 1 tablespoon of flax oil per 50lbs daily added to their food, in the form of supplements, in ground flax seed or in fish oil. The cat dose is 1 teaspoon per day of flax oil.
The last, but not least supplement I want to discuss are antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances which protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals; these are unstable molecules formed during normal cellular reactions. Most scientists tend to agree that free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants work by stabilizing these free radicals, preventing cell damage, and then cancer. There are many different antioxidants, such as vitamins A,C,E, selenium, lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene, and even green tea. A very simple way to increase the antioxidants in your dog’s diet is with the use of ground flax seed- it contains considerable levels of vitamin E, selenium and lignans; all are antioxidants. The dose I advise is to give your dog one tablespoon of ground flax per 50lbs daily; you can add it directly to the dry kibble, and many dogs will eat it.
Cancer is on the rise for a number of reasons, including environmental toxins, food toxins, genetics, and many factors we don’t fully understand. Certain breeds such as Golden Retrievers are at a higher risk, but there are many things that you can do to lower the risk. These include avoiding many of the environmental toxins, decreasing the number and frequency of dog vaccines, better nutrition, and adding in supplements such as omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants.