First, the most critical thing is ensuring your canine cancer patient eats. This can be the most difficult job of all. The old adage, “If they go hungry long enough, they’ll eat anything,” does not hold true for cancer, despite what anyone tells you.
Second, pets with cancer lose weight, not only because they reduce their regular food intake, but also because of the tremendous metabolic impact of the disease. Dogs with cancer have an altered carbohydrate metabolism, so a diet lower in carbohydrates, while containing high quality proteins and fish oil as the primary fat source is best. Grains should account for no more than 10% of the diet. This leaves us with 30% to 50% meat, along with 30% to 40% fruits and vegetables. A calcium source and vitamin/mineral supplement complete the foundation of the diet. Third, try to use organic products, and always use distilled, filtered, or spring water. Using a crockpot is one of the easiest ways to prepare a nutritious meal for your cancer patient, and its aroma may be just the thing to entice your companion to eat.
Fourth, knowing the percentage of protein, fats, and carbohydrates you are working towards makes it easier to choose ingredients for your cancer cooking challenge. Consider chicken, beef, turkey, or a novel protein like ostrich, emu or buffalo, along with liver and heart, eggs, carrots, broccoli, celery, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens, spinach, and summer squash, enhanced by antioxidant-rich turmeric. Canned wild salmon, sardines and other fish can top off a meal of whole brown rice or whole oats and sweet potato or for a change, try protein-rich pseudo-grains, like quinoa and teff.
So, with the help of executive chefs Jenny Izaguirre of Bell + Whete and Stew Navarre of Local 360 (pictured above), we’ve cooked up some recipes to keep your dog drooling, with four-year-old Hadi (Maltese-poodle-mix) and six-year-old Finn (basenji-mix) as our four-legged test testers.
Fresh and Friendly Frittata
3/4 cup artichoke hearts, finely chopped (choose artichokes canned in water)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 free range eggs
2 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (butter can also be used)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1½ teaspoons dried
1 cup grated goat cheese
1/4 cup whole grain oat flour or artisan whole grain bread crumbs
Package of kombu
1/4 cup unpasteurized local honey
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup finely ground almonds, Brazil nuts or hazlenuts
A Cocktail for Cancer
8 ounces raw chopped liver (beef, bison or chicken)
4 ounces grated carrots
1/2 ounce ground Brazil nuts (the richest source of natural selenium)
4 cups chickpea flour
1 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
2 teaspoons carob powder
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. 2. Cover cookie sheet with parchment paper. 3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. 4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well. 5. Cut into desired shapes and place on cookie sheet, or place dough in middle of cookie sheet, roll out to the corners, and lightly score with a knife or pizza cutter. 6. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn oven down to 175ºF and allow to bake for 40 more minutes. 7. Allow treats to cool in the oven. Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
If you find yourself in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, be sure to visit the dog-friendly, outdoor patios at Bell + Whete (200 Bell Street; bellandwhete.com) and Local 360 (2234 1st Avenue; local360.org).
Author Suzi Beber has been successfully creating special needs diets for dogs with special needs for two decades. She is the founder of Canada’s Smiling Blue Skies ® Cancer Fund and the Smiling Blue Skies ® Fund for Innovative Research, part of Canada’s University of Guelph’s Veterinary College and Teaching Hospital Pet Trust. Suzi is the proud recipient of numerous awards including a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and most recently, the degree Doctor of Laws honoris casa, for her work in cancer.