Can Dogs Doing Chemo Or Radiation Eat Keto Food?
We’ve previously looked into the potential therapeutic value of a Ketogenic diet for dogs with cancer...but what about dogs already going through chemotherapy or radiation?
Cancer is a complicated and multifaceted disease.
Recently, work has been done to explore the potential therapeutic effects of attacking cancer through a Ketogenic diet by increasing oxidative stress on cancer cells and cutting off cancer’s food source, glucose (source). KetoPet Sanctuary just out of Austin, TX has actually been treating dogs effectively with a Ketogenic diet, seeing 55% of dogs leave the program in remission (source).
Despite the amazing work that KetoPet Sanctuary is doing to help dogs go into remission with a Ketogenic diet, it is by no means a mainstream therapy...yet.
Some pet parents choose to go the more traditional route with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The good news is: traditional cancer therapies and a Ketogenic diet do NOT have to be divorced.
In fact, there are many studies coming out showing that a Ketogenic diet (for humans and dogs) is actually an integral part in helping people/dogs go into remission. That’s HUGE.
Given that, we’re going to explore the relationship between chemo/radiation and Keto. We’ll see:
If chemo/radiation and Keto can go hand-in-hand
If Keto is harmful to the body during chemo/radiation, or the opposite
CHEMOTHERAPY AND RADIATION THERAPY FOR DOGS
In a traditional setting, when a dog gets cancer, it is recommended that they can chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of these therapies.
Chemotherapy for dogs is...
“...often prescribed for one of the most common cancers in dogs, lymphoma, as well as for some other malignancies. ‘Chemotherapy is recommended for cancers that either have already spread to other areas of the body (metastasized) or are known to have a high potential for metastasis,’ said Dr. Lisa Barber, assistant professor of oncology and chemotherapy at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine.” (source)
Radiation therapy for dogs is...
“...a form of localized therapy with greater power than surgery because large areas can be treated than what the surgeon can remove. Chemotherapy treats the entire body, and is therefore primarily appropriate therapy for tumors that metastasize. Chemotherapy rarely has the power to cure or control tumors alone and should not be used as a substitute for radiation therapy.” (source)
While we’re not going to dive too deep into the specifics of what chemotherapy or radiation therapy does, it’s important to know that these are common treatment options for dogs with cancer, especially those that have spread across the body of a dog.
To read more about chemotherapy for canines: go here.
To read more about radiation therapy for canines: go here.
KETO AND CANCER THERAPY FOR DOGS
Back to the core question: is it okay for dogs going through chemotherapy or radiation therapy to eat a Ketogenic diet.
Research indicates: absolutely, yes.
Note: this blog is for informational purposes only. We are not recommending that you do a certain therapy based on this blog, but rather are bringing you information that is already out there regarding the Keto-chemo/radiation connection.
In humans, there have been multiple studies showing not only that a Ketogenic diet IS SAFE for patients undergoing chemo/radiation therapy, but that a Ketogenic diet actually helps these therapies have more of a positive impact.
A Ketogenic diet seems to be an ideal co-therapy for chemotherapy and radiation therapy for a few reasons:
In general, a high fat, adequate protein, low carb diet cuts off cancer cells’ food source, glucose, by using fat-for-fuel with Ketones and putting oxidative stress on cancer cells that effectively weakens them (source)
Keto can be used as an adjuvant therapy to chemo/radiation. These therapies are actually made more effective with a Ketogenic diet since Keto weakens cancer cells (i.e. Keto “sensitizes” cancer cells to chemo/radiation) (source)
Cancer patients often times have nutritional imbalances, GI issues, and can even develop cancer cachexia (a metabolic disorder that causes weight loss and skeletal muscle loss) during treatment. It appears that fasting or a Ketogenic diet can actually help cancer patients stay healthier overall while undergoing traditional therapies: “KF [Ketogenic formula] may suppress the progression of cancer and the accompanying systemic inflammation without adverse effects on weight gain, or muscle mass, which might help to prevent cancer cachexia” (source)
It appears that not only is a Ketogenic diet safe to eat while undergoing traditional cancer therapies like chemotherapy and radiation therapy, it appears to be an excellent co-therapy alongside chemo and radiation to help kill cancer cells while maintaining a healthy metabolic system overall.
P.s. if you’re unsure about how, on a metabolic level, Keto is a nutritionally safe diet for dogs and humans, check out our article on The Science Behind Keto.
Yes, Keto for dogs is safe
Regardless of whether or not a pet parents wants to address their dog’s cancer with just a Ketogenic diet, traditional therapies like chemo or radiation, or a combination of both, the point is:
Keto for dogs is safe, especially in conjunction with traditional therapies. That’s because Keto is a metabolic science that switches a canine’s food-processing pathway from glucose (a toxic, biologically-inappropriate, and fattening fuel source) to Ketones (a biologically and metabolically-appropriate, safe, non-fattening fuel source).
This is why we are SO passionate about Keto.
Keto works with a dog’s body by giving them an optimal diet high in fat, adequate in protein, and low in carb. Carnivorous canines biologically accustomed to fasting in the wild are meant to be on a Ketogenic diet. Even with traditional therapies like chemo and radiation, Keto appears to do nothing but good in dogs’ (and humans’) bodies.
Note: dogs with immune-compromised systems & keto raw food
While Ketogenic food goes hand-in-hand with traditional therapies like chemo, it is important to consult you specific holistic veterinarian when deciding to feed raw food during these therapies. Raw, Ketogenic food may not be ideal for dogs with immune-compromised systems.
A much debated subject, some pet parents do decide to give their dogs raw food even during chemo. Please consult your licensed veterinarian to discuss your dog’s food options if they are immune-compromised.
HELP US SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT KETO
There’s no doubt about it: cancer is an awful, heart-breaking disease that has been taking our dogs away from us way too soon.
While there are not many people talking right now about the benefits of nutritional Ketosis for dogs...we’re determined to change this. We have to share what we know about Keto with the world because our dogs’ lives literally depend on it.
Have specific questions about your dog’s health? While B&C cannot give medical advice, we recommend seeking advice from a Holistic Veterinarian for your best furry friend (BFF). B&C is here to be a resource for you while you learn more about raw food, Keto, and dog nutrition!