A query we received in September 2020 from concerned owner Annie about her brave dog Breta
“I have a 5 year old labrador bitch who recently had a 2cm malignant melanoma removed from her hard palate. Histology showed that the margins were clean and a CT scan of her chest and biopsies of the lymph glands showed no spread as yet. However, I have been informed that spread and death are inevitable.
I am vegan and am very aware of the cancer growth-promoting properties of meat. I wish to convert her to a vegan diet in order to give her the best chance of a longer life expectancy. Could you comment and also recommend a particular brand, please? She was a rescue and I have only had her for 10 months. I have been feeding her the Science Diet.
Thank you, Annie”
PLEASE SEE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR AN UPDATE ON BRETA EXACTLY A YEAR LATER!
We asked the top vet oncologist in the country Dr Clare Knottenbelt, owner of gorgeous labrador Jumble (who has had a mast cell tumour removed from his head) for her opinion on this. Here is her answer:
I feed my own dog Jumble a plant-based diet as I believe that this diet will reduce his risk of cancer and help reduce climate change. In humans it is well recognised that meat consumption especially red meat and processed meat is associated with a higher instance of cancer. Many of the anti- cancer nutrients are also plant products – I was amazed once I started to explore the contents of “anti- cancer” supplements for people and pets. There is so much information out there. Of course there is very little published evidence in pets as sadly few people consider feeding dogs plant based food.
There is no doubt that there is a genetic link to many types of tumours and Golden Retrievers for example are particularly problematic – particularly in the US where 40% get cancer. However what is interesting is the way in which dogs are often used as models for human cancer in research trials for new treatments. In addition dogs and other animals can act as sentinels for environmental issues such as the case where sheep started getting asbestos associated mesotheliomas in Italy and soon so did the humans.
Our pets inhabit the same environments as us so they are exposed to the same carcinogens. We all know that obesity increases the risk if cancer in humans – it relates to there being a higher actual number of cells in the body and therefore a higher risk of the mutations that cause cancer occurring. If that is the case then there is no reason why this same link doesn’t occur in dogs.
Of course dogs don’t live as long as we do so they have less exposure to the risk factors we have but despite this they have the same incidence of cancer as humans (1 in 3 dogs and humans will develop cancer).
I do recommend a plant-based option for dogs as a natural plant-based diet contains more anti-cancer nutrients. For example Lutein is known to promote inhibition of various types of cancer cells in humans and it only comes from plants.
The very interesting article below shows the risks of cancer incidence in humans eating plant-based diets compared to non-vegetarian diets.
The conclusion states:
Results: A total of 2,939 incident cancer cases were identified. The multivariate HR of overall cancer risk among vegetarians compared with non-vegetarians was statistically significant for both genders combined. When analysing the association of specific vegetarian dietary patterns, vegan diets showed statistically significant protection for overall cancer incidence in both genders combined and for female-specific cancers.
Conclusion: Vegetarian diets seem to confer protection against cancer.
Impact: Vegan diet seems to confer lower risk for overall and female-specific cancer than other dietary patterns.
Read article about plant-based diets and cancer risk in humans
A wonderful update on Breta a year later by her owner –
“An update on our Breta – in July 2020 she had major surgery to remove a tumour from her hard palate. She is still going strong, despite being given only a 10% chance of surviving the first year.
I am told that statistically she will not make two years, but I have hope as she is thriving right now. As far as we know, she is showing no signs of its return and she has boundless energy. People frequently say how healthy she looks and I know that her vegan diet and daily Algae oil supplement is helping. This is her yesterday with my ten year old lab, Roman”
What wonderful feedback and we think Breta looks even brighter than a year ago in the photo!!
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