May is Pet Cancer Awareness Month, and that means it’s time to spread the word about this dreaded and increasingly common disease.

Cancer has become the leading cause of death among canines in the U.S., Europe and Japan – but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Although the causes of cancer in dogs are not well understood, there are a number of things you can do to give your companion the best possible chance of avoiding the disease.

1. Don’t let him get overweight. Caloric restriction has been shown to help prevent tumor development and progression. While no direct link has yet been made between obesity and cancer in dogs, obesity is strongly linked to increased cancer risk in humans. Considering that one of the biggest health problems in animals today is weight gain and obesity, it makes sense that the increase in canine cancer rates is in part attributable to the obesity epidemic.

2. Feed him an anti-inflammatory diet. A healthy diet for your dog – one that is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer – consists of real, whole, organic, non-GMO foods, preferably raw. It should include plenty of high quality protein, including muscle meat, organs and bone; moderate amounts of animal fat; high moisture content, no grains or starches; high levels of EPA and DHA (Omega-3 fatty acids, such as krill oil); a few fresh-cut ground veggies; and a bit of antioxidant-rich fruit.

3. Reduce or eliminate his exposure to toxins. Harmful toxins include chemical pesticides like flea and tick preventives, lawn chemicals, tobacco smoke, flame retardants, and household cleaners (detergents, soaps, cleansers, dryer sheets, and room deodorizers). Because we live in a toxic world and avoiding all chemical exposure is nearly impossible, consider periodic detoxification for your dog. And remember, what goes on your dog goes in your dog, via absorption through the skin or ingestion during grooming.

4. Refuse unnecessary vaccinations. To keep your dog’s first line of defense against cancer – his immune system – balanced and vigorous, it’s important not to overstimulate it with unnecessary vaccines. Vaccine protocols should be tailored to minimize risk and maximize protection, taking into account the breed, background, nutritional status and overall vitality of the dog. Ask your veterinarian about performing a titer test to determine what vaccines he needs, and which ones you can skip.

5. Allow your dog to remain intact until at least 18 to 24 months. Numerous studies now show a clear link between spaying/neutering and increased cancer rates in dogs, especially large breeds.

If you apply these five suggestions in caring for your dog throughout his life, you’ll be offering him a real fighting chance against cancer. You’ll also know you’re doing everything possible to help him enjoy a healthy, high quality life.


Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.