Canine Cancer and Your Dog’s Appetite

Canine cancer can cause a health complication called cachexia, a loss of lean body mass that results from cancer's demand for amino acids to make proteins. To understand how to help your dog fight cancer, it's important to understand the process of cachexia, how it affects your dog’s weight, and how you can stimulate their appetite for protein-rich food. 

Cancer cells reproduce rapidly. The process of tumors growing larger and breaking out of the tissues that surround them requires a tremendous amount of protein production. Even after canine cancer treatments begin to work, there is a deficit of proteins in healthy tissues of a dog's body.

But it isn't enough to give your dog "more protein."

Proteins are made from specific amino acids in a fixed order. The simplest protein in a dog's body is made from the amino acids of arginine, glycine, and aspartic acid, in that order. (Most proteins are much, much more complicated.) The cell that makes this protein needs arginine, and glycine, and aspartic acid, in that order. If it runs out of one of the amino acids in this sequence, it may break down healthy proteins to keep making the protein for the cancer cell.

That's why it's not enough to feed your dog "protein." You need to feed your dog complete protein with excess amounts of critical amino acids for protein repair to replace what has been destroyed by cancer. Your dog needs natural, complete, abundant protein sources like the human-grade chicken in Canine Biologics special food for dogs with cancer. 

There's a reason kibble won't do. Kibble contains grains, and grains contain some protein but less than complete protein. Even when grains are mixed in ways that provide "complete" protein, they need to provide all the amino acids in sufficient quantity to make the proteins in the dog's body. Furthermore, during the denaturing process of rendering meat for dog food (and inedible for humans), the structure of the proteins and enzymes is changed and nutrients are destroyed. 

But your dog has to eat the healthy protein you serve.

The first way you can help your dog have a good appetite is to provide moist, fresh human-grade food high in protein.

Humans break down carbohydrates with saliva, but dogs don't salivate to break down protein. They salivate to help them taste their food and to make sure it can easily move down the digestive tract.

Chemotherapy drugs and radiation treatments cause dry mouth in dogs the same way they do in people. Making sure your dog's food is moist, not scratchy, and your dog is served water along with every meal goes a long way toward stimulating your dog's appetite.

You can also stimulate your dog's appetite by making sure the food you serve is room temperature or gently warmed. Odor increases with temperature. Dogs depend more on smell than taste. Gently warming your dog's food — never make it piping hot — will make the food more palatable. Other tricks include adding small amounts of cooked bacon or rotisserie chicken, wetting with low sodium chicken or beef broth, adding sprinkle of garlic. (Yes, it really is OK to use garlic in small amounts.)

Your dog will have a better appetite in a familiar environment. That might mean next to a favorite toy, on a favorite blanket, or in a favorite spot where the odors, flavors, moisture, and textures in food can stimulate eating. Your dog will also have a better appetite in the presence of familiar people. 

The best food for dogs with cancer and the best canine cancer diet always involve the loving presence of human family. You provide the love. Let Canine Biologics provide the food, supplements and wild-caught salmon oil to help your dog stay as healthy and active as possible.