Canine Cancer: Raw vs Kibble Part 3


by Nick Thompson

Raw Food and Cancer


Kibble, as we have discussed, is associated with bowel cancer via microbiome disruption and IBD. It can promote cancer through chronic high blood insulin, toxic additives, obesity, chronic inflammation in the pancreas and bowel, high-temperature carcinogens, high levels of fluoride and periodontal disease. Appropriately fed raw food has none of these risks. Also, it offers protective factors:

  1. Raw diets are more ketogenic (inducing the body to use ketones in the blood for fuel in preference to glucose) than high carb kibbles. An every-day raw food meal can be easily made more ketogenic by stripping back vegetables to a bare minimum and adding more fat. This is precisely what they do at the Ketopet Sanctuary in Texas. Founded in 2014, they set out to give rescue dogs with cancer in shelters a ‘forever home’. The dogs were put on a ketogenic diet and their progress monitored by examination, blood work and PET (positron emission tomography) scanning, a bit like an MRI-type scan. Tumour size and distribution were observed. As you can see on their website, their numerous case studies show much-improved outcomes for many cancers using this nutrition-led approach.
  2. Most raw diets contain herbs and plant material with anti-cancer properties. Mohammad Aghajanpour and his team at Lorestan University of Medical Sciences, Khorramabad, Iran published a fantastic paper called ‘Functional foods and their role in cancer prevention and health promotion: a comprehensive review.’ In it, they detail a dozen well-researched molecules commonly found in plants. For example, Lutein is found in dark green leafy vegetables. It is a potent antioxidant. It is efficient in cell cycle progression and can inhibit the growth of several cancer cell types. Herbs including turmeric, milk thistle, Siberian ginseng and Reishi mushroom are among thousands of plants that have well researched anti-cancer effects. A 2005 study of 92 Scottish Terriers suggests that consuming certain vegetables might prevent or slow the development of transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) (bladder cancer) in this breed. The study compared the 92 Scottish Terriers older than six years who suffered from TCC with 83 Scottish Terriers who had no recent history of urinary tract disease. Scotties eating vegetables at least three times per week showed a 40-70% reduction in risk of developing the disease (Raghavan et al., 2005).
  3. Omega-3 fatty acids are generally low in the typical human and dog Western diet. Addition of fresh, non-rancid, fish, krill or flax oil is common in raw diets. They have a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. In humans, they are protective against breast and prostatic cancers.
  4. Bacterial contamination in raw food is a thorny issue. The critics of raw point out the many bacteria found routinely in raw food. Defenders of raw feeding are equally quick to point out the vanishingly small number of cases where dogs have been injured through infection. This is not surprising if we consider dogs have been eating rotting carcases, herbivore intestinal contents and faeces for hundreds of thousands of years. Indeed, it is logical to think this low level of bacterial ‘contamination’ is possibly where raw food is superior to the more sterile tins and kibbles promoted by food corporations. We see raw fed dogs with much better gut function, in many cases, than those eating the ultra-hygienic processed factory foods. Superior gut function means reduced inflammation which in turn reduces the risk of cancer.

Although no diet can guarantee to avoid cancer, it seems, unsurprisingly, that Mother Nature knows best. Feeding a species-appropriate diet not only prevents the pitfalls of ultra-processed food, but it also confers protection against the most common modern killer of dogs, cancer.

Back to Part 1. Back to Part 2.

Nick Thompson

BSc (Hons) Path Sci., BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS. Founding President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society. Petplan Vet of the Year Nominee 2009, 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2020. The practice of the Year Nominee 2018.


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