Benefits of Arginine for Dogs with Cancer

Arginine can be beneficial—or harmful—for dogs with cancer. Like so many other aspects of canine cancer and finding the best canine cancer diet, timing is everything.

Canine cancer cells (and cancer cells in other animals) need a nutrient-rich environment to build the proteins they need for rapid multiplication and metastasis through the body. In dogs, the amino acid “arginine” is especially important for the cancer cells entering a cycle of rapid growth.

This is especially true of lymphoma cells. It takes three days of arginine deprivation to shut down the growth of canine lymphoma cells. Canine osteosarcoma (bone and connective tissue cancer) cells shut down permanently after six days of arginine deprivation.

When healthy cells are deprived of arginine, they shut down at a point in their own (healthy) cell division cycle called G1. This is the stage at which cells are busy repairing and multiplying their DNA to create two cells out of one. It’s also the stage at which a cell repairs its DNA.

When cancerous cells are deprived of arginine, they move past G1 and get ready to multiply. They spend all their energy getting ready for the next stage, which never happens. They starve while they are waiting for more arginine. 

But when healthy cells finally get arginine again, they wake up from their “cellular hibernation” and return to normal.

So, it turns out that a dog’s inability to eat during chemotherapy can be a good thing, in the short term, especially if the dog has lymphoma or osteosarcoma.

There are times, however, when adding arginine to a canine cancer diet is important in providing the best nutrients for dogs with cancer.

Arginine (which is abundant in salmon) can be beneficial when the dog is getting chemotherapy and omega-3 essential fatty acids, like those found in wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and similar premium supplements for dogs.

Chemotherapy drugs like doxorubicin work by binding to DNA in rapidly dividing cells. When extra arginine “revs” up cancer cells, doxorubicin and similar chemotherapy agents have more activity to stop. The chemotherapy drug inflicts damage on cancer cells rather than on the healthy cells, and the dog’s immune system has a chance to catch up with the cancer.

However, chemotherapy needs some help to do this.

Chemotherapy along with arginine and omega-3 essential fatty acids all work together to get the job done. The benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids in canine cancer include reducing the production of inflammatory hormones. At the same time, the dog’s body produces more beneficial, regulatory hormones. Tamping down inflammation “holds” cancerous tumors in place, preventing metastasis, so chemotherapy can do its job.

And, as previously mentioned, arginine gives the chemotherapy drug a lot more active sites in cancer cells on which to act. 

While you don’t need to worry about depriving your dog of arginine to prevent cancer growth, you do need to get them to eat properly during cancer treatment.

That’s where Canine Biologics’ Integrated Nutrition System can help. Our human-grade food, premium supplements and wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil are cross-balanced and provide the full range of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that dogs with cancer need to help them stay as happy and active as possible.