What to feed a dog with cancer and pancreatitis?

Guest blog by Dr. Nancy Reese, a small animal veterinarian with over 30 years of clinical experience taking care of cats and dogs and other critters in the Sierra Nevada foothills. She is also a perpetual student and researcher, as evidenced by her many degrees. In addition to her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of California, Davis, she earned a Masters in Preventive Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis and then a Ph.D. in Epidemiology at UC Davis.

This is a transcript of a podcast posted on dogcancerblog.com on 13th April 2021.


The owner’s question: “I know he needs to get some fat into him, but all I’ve been doing right now is giving him some small amounts of fish oil. Any recommendations would be great to try and help me save my boy. Thank you so much.”

>> Dr. Nancy Reese: [00:01:55] “So, I think in this particular case, the pancreatitis somewhat trumps the cancer diet because pancreatitis is associated with being pretty miserable and vomiting and really a lot of discomfort.

“And we know that fat, in some animals, seems to be a major trigger of pancreatitis. So the classic thing is a dog that gets into some bacon grease and then starts getting very, very sick from it. So the diets that are high in fat seem to predispose animals to pancreatitis a little bit more. And like I said, nobody wants to be vomiting when you’ve got cancer on top of everything else. So avoiding major fats is a good recommendation, but something, I think she had mentioned is that she was following The Dog Cancer Survival Guide diet, but you can adapt it a little bit by using something like low-fat cottage cheese instead of the full fat cottage cheese.

And you can trim all the fat off of the meats so that you aren’t adding a bunch of extra fat. And I think that recipe calls for some liver, and liver tends to be high in fat, so that might be something to cut out or minimize the type of fat. Now, that being said, the types of fats that she is feeding is actually beneficial for pancreatitis.

So things like fish oils that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, those types of things can actually help cases of pancreatitis. For some reason, that fat is different than other types of fat. So adding extra amounts of the fish oil would be a way to get “more fat”. But it’s also a beneficial fat, and that is even used in the treatment for some dogs that have super high cholesterol and triglycerides, which is a type of blood fat, high doses of fatty acids are actually used to treat that.

So pancreatitis is generally a low fat recommendation, but fish oil is beneficial. So I would tend to get most of the fat from the diet, from fish oils instead of from other animal types of fat.

>> James Jacobson: [00:03:55] Dr. Nancy. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Hopefully, that was helpful. And thanks for being with us today.

>> Dr. Nancy Reese: [00:04:01] Alright, thanks again.

>> James Jacobson: [00:04:04] So, Susan, our caller, it sounds like you’re on the right track. You minimize fat from protein and limit or eliminate liver in the dog cancer diet, and then use fish oil as your main fat. Now, your veterinarian or a good nutritionist will be able to help you further fine tune your choices based on the specifics of your dog’s health condition.

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