Your fur kid has been with you every step of the way, greeting you when you come home every day and nuzzling close to cheer up when you are down. Is there anything dog owners can do to reduce the risk of canine cancer? Just as healthy food choices can reduce our risk of getting cancer, giving cancer-fighting foods to your dog may prove life-saving in the long run. Here’s a list of superfoods for dogs that you can include in their diet to boost health and help to prevent cancer or minimize its effects.
We’ve all heard of the benefits of detoxing and this veggie helps with this process in dogs and humans alike. Broccoli is referred to as a superfood because it’s chock full of fiber and important nutrients including calcium, potassium, protein, beta-carotene, and vitamin C, as well as vitamins A and D. This makes it a powerful ally in the fight against inflammation and it supports the health of organs like skin, eyes, and heart. It also has anti-allergy and anti-microbial properties.
Beyond promoting good overall health, broccoli also contains antioxidants. It is rich in glucosinates, which break down into biologically active compounds that have anticancer properties. These compounds make carcinogens inactive, protect cells from DNA damage, prompt cell death in tumors, and prevent the formation of tumor blood vessels.
As if that’s not enough, broccoli contains at least three biochemicals that help to protect against cancer and support the immune system.
Take note though, the florets on top may give your pup gas as a result of irritating their stomach. Give them only the stems. Dogs love them!
Broccoli is surely a powerhouse of a superfood for dogs and there are other vegetables in the cruciferous family that are safe and help to prevent cancer. They include Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, turnips, and rutabagas. Lightly steaming these crucifers releases the cancer-fighting enzyme indole and makes them easier for your dog to digest.
Rich in vitamins B6, C, E, and D, sweet potatoes are more powerful than we might think. They contain carotenoids and beta-carotene, which support vitamin A and this may be a key factor in reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Sweet potatoes are also packed with essential minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, folate, copper, and thiamine. They release their sugars slowly which means they provide energy for long periods and lead to a spike in your pet’s blood sugar.
Feel free to cook or bake sweet potatoes and mash them for easier consumption before adding them to your dog’s bowl.
The popularity of coconut oil in recent years is undeniable and its health benefits are widely touted. It contains fatty acids and plant sterols that mimic blood cholesterol and may help to block the absorption of cholesterol in the body. In addition to its anti-tumor properties, coconut oil is known to be beneficial for the skin and may clear up precancerous lesions and protect against cancerous growths. It is also fascinating to note that coconut oil has the ability to kill some bacteria that are associated with higher rates of certain types of cancer. Coconut oil
Pumpkin’s bright orange color is the visible signal that it is rich in beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A is an antioxidant that is critical in cancer prevention because it prevents damage caused by free radicals. Beta-carotene is important in its own right as it can slow cancer growth and support enzymes that help cleanse the body of cancer-causing substances.
In fact, pumpkin helps to keep the intestinal tract of both dogs and humans healthy and it is an excellent source of vitamins B and C, carotenoids, and potassium. Pumpkin can also be helpful for maintaining overall dog health as it has a high water and fiber content, which can hydrate the intestines when dogs are suffering from constipation and surprisingly enough, the soluble fiber in pumpkins can also help to calm diarrhea. We’re talking about pure pumpkin here, not sugary pie filling in a can.
If you want a superfood treat with a gentle sweetness your dog will instantly love, try giving them beets. Full of nutrients, these vegetables are as healthy as they are tasty. They are rich in folic acid, potassium, and beta-carotene. They have a high, insoluble fiber content, which boosts the body’s detoxifying process and can help support healthy liver function. The fiber in beets can also improve stool quality. Why not steam or roast them until they have a soft consistency so you can mash them and watch your dog feast on them.
Fish and fish oil
Whether your pet is in pain or not, oily fish should be included in their diet. Wild-caught fish is a better choice than farmed as it tends to contain more nutrients, especially Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and is less likely to be contaminated with harmful pollutants. Another bit of advice: ensure you only give your dog cooked fresh fish or canned fish because raw fish may contain parasites.
Fish like sardines, salmon, herring, cod, and mackerel, and shellfish such as shrimp, are packed with high quality protein, essential vitamins like B2 and D, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium, plus eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 supports muscle, heart, gut, and brain health and has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce pain.
Many dog owners are already aware of the benefits of fish oil and can confirm it is a supplement worth adding to your pup’s food. It prevents dryness of the skin and helps to keep your pal’s coat looking shiny. It also contains vitamin D3, an essential ingredient in cancer prevention.
Omega-3 is a fatty acid that shrinks tumors and reduces inflammation. Fish oil has tons of other benefits for your dog, and many owners add it to their pups’ food to help keep coats shiny and fight skin dryness. For dogs already diagnosed with cancer, fish oil can slow the growth of the disease and is often recommended as part of their treatment.
Blueberries & Blackberries
The dark pigments or anthocyanins that give blueberries their rich color have anti-inflammatory properties that are critical in cancer prevention and treatment. Blueberries are not only a great source of antioxidants, which prevent cell damage, but they also contain ellagic acid, which blocks metabolic pathways that can lead to cancer. When you give your pet blueberries, they will also get fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E. You can buy them fresh or frozen and they can be mixed in with other foods, but any way they’re served it’s best to introduce blueberries gradually to avoid the stomach upset that can result from large amounts being introduced too quickly.
Like blueberries, blackberries are top-rated for antioxidants and have a high anthocyanin content, which translates to powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Both blueberries and blackberries will boost your pup’s defenses against free radicals making them great superfoods for dogs.
Pitted Fruits – Peaches and Plums
Yummy! Your furry pal will be delighted to have peaches and plums for a treat. Just be sure to remove the pit first.
Peaches are high in antioxidants and work well to remove toxins from the body. Of course, the link between toxins and cancer is well established so the more toxins we get rid of the better off our pup will be. What’s more, peaches promote healthy skin because they are a powerful force in fighting skin infections.
Plums are equally rich in antioxidants and also contain vitamin C and iron.
Wholesome, fresh foods are just as important in your pet’s fight against cancer as they are for humans. Since cancer is one of the leading causes of death in older dogs, it makes sense to do everything in power to prevent it and keep our best friends as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Like us, some dogs are picky eaters but it’s worth it to experiment with superfoods to figure out which ones suit your furry companion best. These superfoods for dogs are well worth incorporating into their life weather they are currently healthy or fighting cancer.
If your pet has cancer, be sure to discuss the superfoods in our list with your vet to see whether they can be incorporated into your pal’s treatment plan.