Every canine cancer diet must include both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. But the best food for dogs with cancer keeps the amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids within careful limits and in the right balance.
What are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids?
Both omega-3's and omega-6's are "essential" fatty acids. They are called essential not only because your dog must have them to live, but also because they can only come from your dog's diet, preferably from human-grade food, from salmon oil for dogs or from other supplements for dogs with cancer. But the fact that these nutrients are essential doesn't mean that more is always better.
The best-known omega-3 essential fatty acids are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA is especially important for puppies, because it's a building block of the protective linings of cells in the eyes and brain. In older dogs, it protects mature nerve cells and is considered a building block for EPA.
EPA is raw material for the hormones that a dog's body uses to regulate inflammation. A dog's body needs some inflammatory substances to activate the immune system, but EPA-based substances keep inflammation from excessive levels.
DHA and EPA are abundant in salmon oil.
DHA is made from algae that feed marine animals. Fish like salmon that feed on ocean algae use DHA to make EPA.
Strictly speaking, a dog's body could convert DHA from microalgae into EPA like a fish, but the process is extremely inefficient and depends on canine estrogen levels. Dogs with cancer can't convert enough DHA into EPA fast enough to keep inflammation in check. They need their EPA from food, such as the best wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil.
But what's so important about fighting inflammation for dogs with cancer?
Inflammation powers cancer.
The reason dogs with cancer need EPA is because inflammation powers cancer. Cancer cells secrete inflammatory substances called cytokines to dissolve the intercellular matrix that holds them in place. Cancerous tumors secrete inflammatory substances to dissolve the healthy tissues around them, so they can build their own blood vessels to take nutrients away from the rest of your dog's body. Inflammatory substances trigger a signal called apoptosis that tells healthy cells it's time to die, but don't trigger this reaction in cancer cells.
Your dog's body needs EPA to counteract the inflammation that fuels the spread of cancer. Ordinary dog food doesn't deliver enough EPA to give your dog a fighting chance. But there's another problem.
Grains like corn and soy contain omega-6 fatty acids that power inflammation.
Every dog needs tiny amounts of the omega-6 fatty acids that trigger inflammation. The immune system uses inflammation to dissolve bacteria. Dead tissue has to be cleared away to make room for healthy tissue to replace it.
There are small amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in meat. There are huge amounts of omega-6 fatty acids in the grains that so many companies use as fillers in dog food. Your dog's body needs about 150% more omega-3s than omega-6s to keep inflammation in check. But grains deliver 10, 20, and even 50 times more omega-6's than your dog's body can use safely. Some "fillers" in kibble are actually toxic to a dog with cancer.
Healthy plant oils are no substitute for salmon oil for dogs.
But what about healthy plant oils?
Healthy plant oils are emphasized in some natural approaches for treating cancer, like the Budwig diet, which is used by some alternative practitioners for treating cancer in humans.
It's possible for a healthy dog to convert tiny amounts of a plant oil component called ALA into DHA and EPA. About 5% of the ALA in the diet becomes the needed building blocks for regulating inflammation, and 95% is burned for fuel.
Healthy plant oils just aren't enough to give your dog the inflammation regulation needed for fighting cancer. Dogs in recovery from cancer need a canine cancer diet that includes wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil to give them the DHA and EPA they need.
The best food for dogs with cancer always involves the loving presence of their human family. You provide the love. Let Canine Biologics provide the food and specialized supplements that your dog needs to live as active and happy a life as possible.