Q: My Golden Retriever was recently diagnosed with lymphoma. The vet advised against chemotherapy, so he is currently on steroids instead. Is there any way I can improve his diet to make it more suitable for his current condition? What are some foods that are particularly good or bad for him? He’s now on a quality grain-free kibble with fish oil as a supplement.
Using steroids (what we term corticosteroids) is a form of chemotherapy, but the option your vet has chosen avoids using some of the very harsh drugs available. Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system, so the steroids work by suppressing the immune cells affected by the cancer.
Diet is very important to a dog with cancer, so I strongly suggest that you consider putting your furkid on a complete raw food diet. While grain-free kibbles sound good in principle, some formulas swap grains for other types of carbohydrate, and unfortunately, diets high in carbohydrate feed cancer cells. Your Goldie needs a diet high in quality meat proteins and fats that are best served raw. His meals should comprise minimal carbohydrates (less than 10 percent), high protein (over 35 percent), and a high fat content (over 15 percent).
Cancer cells dislike high oxygen levels, so keep up with your furkid’s regular exercise. To introduce more oxygen into your dog’s system, you can also try adding food grade hydrogen peroxide (three percent concentration) to your dog’s water bowl (approximately 5ml per litre of water).
When fighting cancer, you need to create an anti-inflammatory environment in the body. Anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, rosehip, and boswellia are helpful, but may react with the steroids, so it is crucial to discuss with your vet beforehand. Krill oil has also been known to reduce inflammation. It’s a good idea to include high potency antioxidant supplements with proven efficacy—such as glutathione and astaxanthins—in his diet.
With lymphoma, the best we can hope for is long-term remission, and this can range from a few months to a year or two if you are lucky. It’s a nasty cancer that attacks younger dogs and affects the immune system—the very part of the body that is designed to prevent cancer—so you need to monitor your dog closely during this treatment phase.