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50% of Dogs Will Die of Cancer. Here’s 7 Science Backed Ways To Prevent It.

Written by: Justin Palmer
Justin Palmer is a Certified Pet Food Nutrition Specialist and co-founder of Inspired by his rescued husky, Splash, he dedicated himself to learning about extending both the length and quality of her life. Splash lived and thrived until 18 years old, and now Justin is on a mission to share what he learned with other dog owners.Read more
| Published on February 15, 2024

Cancer is a formidable adversary in the animal kingdom, affecting our canine companions at alarming rates. Recent studies indicate that 50% of dogs will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, a statistic that’s both startling and heartbreaking for dog owners. However, hope glimmers on the horizon, with scientific advancements shedding light on several promising strategies to combat this disease.

1. Mushrooms in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

The humble mushroom, often overlooked in the culinary world, is emerging as a powerhouse in cancer prevention and treatment in dogs. Scientific studies have begun to unravel the mystery of how certain mushrooms can combat cancer. For instance, a study published in the “Journal of Veterinary Science” demonstrated that polysaccharides found in mushrooms like Shiitake and Reishi have immunomodulating effects, which can help in slowing down tumor growth in canines. These polysaccharides enhance the body’s immune response against cancer cells, making them less able to spread and take hold.

Further research points to the compound Ergothioneine, found in mushrooms like King Trumpet, as a potent antioxidant that helps protect cells from DNA damage, a precursor to cancer. A clinical trial involving dogs with hemangiosarcoma, a highly aggressive cancer, showed that a mushroom supplement led to a significant increase in survival time. This promising evidence suggests that incorporating certain types of mushrooms into a dog’s diet might play a role in both preventing and treating cancer.

2. The Role of Sulforaphane in Cancer Prevention

Sulforaphane, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, is gaining attention for its potential anti-cancer properties. In humans, it has been studied extensively for its ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death. What makes it particularly interesting is its potential applicability to dogs. Research indicates that sulforaphane may help detoxify harmful compounds in dogs, reducing the risk of cancer development.

A study published in the “Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry” highlighted that sulforaphane can activate certain enzymes in canine cells that help protect against oxidative stress and carcinogen-induced DNA damage. While research is still in early stages, especially in canine subjects, the existing evidence suggests that adding sulforaphane-rich foods like broccoli sprouts to a dog’s diet could be a proactive step in cancer prevention.

3. Turmeric and Its Anti-Cancer Properties

Turmeric, a spice revered in traditional medicine, contains curcumin, a compound with notable anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. In both human and canine cancer studies, curcumin has shown promise in reducing tumor size and mitigating the spread of cancer cells. Its mechanism of action involves the modulation of multiple cell signaling pathways, making it effective against various cancer types.

A research study focusing on dogs with osteosarcoma revealed that curcumin could inhibit tumor growth and metastasis. Another significant benefit of turmeric is its safety profile; it’s generally well-tolerated by dogs, making it an accessible option for owners looking to supplement their pet’s cancer prevention or treatment regime. However, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian for the appropriate dosage, as turmeric can interfere with certain medications.

4. Ketogenic Diet for Dogs with Cancer

The ketogenic diet, high in fats and low in carbohydrates, has been studied for its potential benefits in cancer therapy, including for dogs. The premise behind this diet is that cancer cells primarily use glucose for energy. By limiting glucose availability through a ketogenic diet, it’s hypothesized that cancer cells can be starved, while normal cells adapt to using ketones (produced from fats) for energy.

A study in the “Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association” explored the effects of a ketogenic diet on dogs with cancer. The results indicated a reduction in tumor growth and an improvement in overall health in some dogs. However, it’s important to note that this approach is not universally effective for all types of cancer or all dogs. Therefore, consulting a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist before altering a dog’s diet is crucial.

5. CBD and Its Potential in Cancer Therapy

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, has been a topic of interest in both human and veterinary medicine. In dogs, studies have suggested that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits in managing pain and anxiety, and it’s also being explored for its potential in treating cancer. Research indicates that CBD can induce apoptosis in cancer cells and inhibit tumor growth.

One study published in the “Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics” demonstrated that CBD effectively reduced the viability of cancer cells in dogs. Another research indicated that when combined with traditional cancer treatments, CBD could enhance the efficacy of these treatments and reduce their side effects. This emerging data, coupled with CBD’s safety in dogs, positions it as a promising adjunct in canine cancer therapy.

6. Importance of Regular Veterinary Visits

Regular veterinary check-ups are pivotal in early cancer detection and effective management. Many types of canine cancer, if caught early, can be treated more successfully. During these visits, veterinarians can conduct physical examinations and recommend screenings like blood tests, ultrasounds, or biopsies for any suspicious growths.

Education on the common signs of cancer in dogs is also crucial. These include lumps or bumps, abnormal odors, sudden weight loss, or changes in appetite. Early detection, coupled with advancements in veterinary oncology, can significantly increase the chances of successful treatment and extend a dog’s quality of life.

7. Maintaining Proper Weight for Cancer Prevention

Obesity in dogs not only affects their mobility and overall health but also increases their risk of developing cancer. Excess body fat can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a known risk factor for cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise is key in cancer prevention.

A study in the “Veterinary Journal” highlighted the link between obesity and an increased risk of certain cancers in dogs. Owners should work with their veterinarians to establish a balanced diet and exercise regimen, keeping their dogs within a healthy weight range. This not only reduces the risk of cancer but also contributes to better overall health and longevity.


Confronting the reality that 50% of dogs will battle cancer in their lifetime is a daunting prospect for any dog owner. However, armed with knowledge and the latest scientific findings, we can take proactive steps to protect our canine friends. From incorporating cancer-fighting foods like mushrooms, sulforaphane, and turmeric into their diets, exploring the potential of CBD and ketogenic diets, to ensuring regular veterinary care and maintaining a healthy weight, we have a multitude of strategies at our disposal. Each step we take is a stride towards a healthier, happier life for our beloved pets.

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