The Essential Role of Salmon Oil in a Canine Cancer Diet


It’s only natural for people who love their dogs to want to provide the best diet for them if they develop cancer, and one component of the best canine cancer diet is wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil. Salmon oil is one of the best sources of nature's anti-inflammatory agents, the essential fatty acids DHA (short for docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).

Salmon oil is also a source of some unique antioxidant pigments, the natural chemicals that make salmon pink, that have their own supporting roles in canine health. But before we get too far into our discussion of wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and canine cancer, it may help to review some basic facts about inflammation and cancer in dogs.

Cancer and Inflammation in Dogs

Everything about inflammation isn't bad in canine health, even for dogs that suffer canine cancer.

Inflammation is often a beneficial response to disease. A dog's immune system may generate inflammation to fight pathogens and to remove injured tissue to allow wounds to heal. Inflammation can be part of the process of restoring normal function to damaged tissues like broken bones and scratched skin.

The immune system in dogs (and in people) sends out white blood cells known as cytotoxic T-cells to clear injured tissue out of the way. But the immune system also sends out cytotoxic T-cells to the surfaces of cancerous tumors. 

The compounds known as chemokines and cytokines that white blood cells release around injured tissue break it down for renewal. White blood cells also release growth factors that encourage the growth of replacement tissues. The problem in canine cancer comes up when these same white blood cells release growth factors that make the cancerous tumor grow, along with chemokines and cytokines that break down the tissues holding the tumor in place. This last process helps the tumor to metastasize or move around the body.

Stopping Inflammation Slows Down Canine Cancer

Since inflammation speeds up the growth and spread of cancer, stopping inflammation slows down the growth and spread of cancer. Sometimes anti-inflammatory drugs like prednisone and prednisolone are given to dogs by injection to treat the cancerous tumor. (Prednisone and prednisolone are also sometimes given to dogs that have lymphoma.) 

The problem with using pharmaceuticals to slow down the growth and spread of cancer and give other cancer treatments a chance to work is that they can work too well. They can leave your dog vulnerable to infection. Many dogs getting treatments for canine cancer die from infections, not from the cancer itself.

Wild Alaskan salmon oil for dogs isn't as potent as steroid drugs. It's not enough by itself to stop cancer in its tracks. But it can work with any other kind of canine cancer therapy or treatment option, including surgery, chemo, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy, to provide just enough inflammation relief to support other cancer treatments in doing their jobs.

What in Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon Oil Relieves Inflammation?

The simple fact is, there is nothing in wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil that directly relieves inflammation. The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in salmon oil must be transformed into hormones that regulate inflammation by your dog's healthy cells. They act as a counterbalance to hormones that your dog's body makes from a pro-inflammatory fat known as arachidonic acid and from omega-6 essential fatty acids.

Both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids (the number refers to a feature of their molecular structure) are essential to your dog's very life. Dogs need the fats that turn into the hormones that start inflammation (the omega-6s) and that stop it (the omega-3s). 

You don't want to eliminate inflammation, even in the connective tissue around a cancerous tumor. But the reason supplementing with natural wild salmon oil is so important in nutrition for dogs with cancer is that, in most dog foods, omega-6s and omega-3s are out of balance.

Restoring Balance with the Best Dog Cancer Diet

A dog's body doesn't respond to the DHA and EPA in supplements for dogs with cancer automatically. Your dog's body can use DHA as part of building protective linings for nerves in the eye and brain. However, for fighting inflammation, your dog's liver must transform it in EPA first. 

The enzyme a dog's liver uses to transform DHA into anti-inflammatory EPA is affected by other substances in the canine cancer diet. When you’re asking what to feed a dog with cancer, it is especially important to leave out any veggies that aren't veterinarian-approved as natural nutrition for dogs.

Celery, for instance, contains apigenin, which blocks the action of the liver enzyme that changes DHA into EPA. Onions (which are never healthy for your dog), apples, and grapefruit contain rutin, which also blocks EPA production. Fluoxetine ("Puppy Prozac") and many antibiotics also interfere with the enzyme.

Feeding table scraps to your dog with cancer can cancel out the benefits of even the best salmon oil.

Another reason ordinary dog food nutrition won't work for dogs with cancer is that many dog foods contain lots of grains and fillers. Your dog's body gets some benefit from grains and starchy vegetables, although there is nothing in a grain that a dog's body doesn't more efficiently make from the amino acids in the proteins in meat and Alaskan wild-caught salmon.

(Dogs break down amino acids to make glucose, the sugar that fuels every cell in their bodies, although they can also break down small amounts of carbohydrate in grain.)

The problem with grains and seeds in your dog's cancer diet is that they are loaded with omega-6 essential fatty acids. These fatty acids become the pro-inflammatory hormones that initiate inflammation. When your dog's diet contains 50 percent or more grain, like dogs get from many dry dog foods, cells are overwhelmed with omega-6s so they can't use omega-3s. They are so busy making pro-inflammatory hormones that they can't make the anti-inflammatory hormones your dog needs to recover from cancer.

Omega-6s and omega-3s recommended dosage needs to be in about a two to one ratio in your dog's diet. Many dry dog foods provide 20 times as many omega-6s as omega-3s.

Why Canine Biologics Is the Best Integrated Nutrition Approach for Dogs with Cancer

Canine Biologics provides high quality ingredients and essential nutrients like the small amounts of omega-6s in your dog needs for fighting infection and dealing with tissue injury. But it also provides all the omega-3s your dog needs for fighting cancer with the best salmon oil supplements for dogs and the best food for your dog's immune system.

Of course, it is still important for pet owners to provide their dog with food that tastes good. Dogs with cancer often go through long periods of lacking appetite, so they need nourishment to get back to normal for overall health as their treatments work.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon Oil for Dogs

Q. Should I limit how much wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil I give my dog?

A. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends limiting total DHA plus EPA for dogs to 25 mg for every pound of your dog's body weight. That's 55 mg for every kilo (2.2 lbs) your dog weighs. If you follow the directions on the label, you won't be inviting any complications. In extreme overdose, wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil could cause diarrhea or fishy burps. 

In the very unlikely event that your dog develops either diarrhea or fishy burps, simply cut back on the dosage of the best salmon oil for dogs.

Q. Can I give my dog my fish oil supplement?

A. Canine Biologics wild-caught salmon oil is more highly purified than many off-the-shelf brands of fish oil supplements for people. Ironically, it is also more natural than the esterified (chemically stabilized) fish oil in the most popular prescription EPA supplement for people—that are very expensive. You will get better results with a fish oil supplement specifically manufactured for dogs.

Q. Why use fish oil from wild-caught Alaskan salmon? Why not just any fish oil?

A. Some fish oil is steamed out of fish that have sat in a cargo hold under minimal refrigeration for several weeks before they arrive in port. Canine Biologics uses salmon that is caught in cold water and kept cold at low temperatures until processing. Canine Biologics also has tests run for heavy metals, hydrocarbons and other contaminants to make sure that you are getting human-grade, wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil for your dog.

Q. What about treats? Can I still give my dog treats if I am giving them Canine Biologics?

A. Most dogs that have cancer need proper nutrition any way they can get it. One survey found that 68 percent of dogs getting cancer treatment were underweight and 32 percent had suffered muscle wasting.

Dogs with cancer need significant levels of protein in their diet. Don't let treats interfere with the nutrition, anti-inflammatory benefits, and other health benefits your dog needs for to live a happy, active life.