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Keto Diet for Pet Cancer: What’s Fact? What’s Not?

Seems like every day we hear something about a new alternative pet cancer diet that’s supposed to be better than all the rest. Lately we keep hearing about The Keto Diet for pet cancer, so today we’ll take a look at this meal plan.

What is the Keto Diet for Pet Cancer?keto diet for pet cancer

The basic Ketogenic menu revolves around a low-carb, high fat raw food recipe that’s intended to starve cancer cells of the glucose needed to replicate.

“When non-fibrous carbs are significantly reduced, protein is moderate, and dietary fat is increased, the body will naturally switch its primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. Once a person or dog begins using fat for fuel instead of glucose, the liver breaks down those fats into ketone bodies which are then used for energy by tissues throughout the body. This process induces a healthy metabolic state called ketosis.” – KetoPet Sanctuary

Think “Atkins for dogs,” and a species-appropriate diet for cats. It includes:

  • the fattiest cuts of beef and chicken.
  • a rotation of Monounsaturated and Saturated fat sources like Avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, red palm oil, ghee, Kerrygold salted butter, or heavy whipping cream.
  • Fibrous, low sugar vegetables including green beans, red cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus.
  • and no carbs whatsoever.

The Ketogenic Diet has been around since the 1920s, when researchers found that it helped reduce seizures in epileptic children. Later scientists studied mouse models and found that this type of diet increased survival times for mice afflicted with brain tumors.

Unfortunately, much of the cancer-fighting claims surrounding the diet have always been based on thin evidence from a few rodent and human studies. The non-profit KetoPet Sanctuary is trying to change that. The organization gives homes to shelter dogs with cancer, treats them with a full-spectrum pet cancer care that combines conventional cancer therapies along with the Keto diet for pet cancer. Then they study how the dogs respond.

“Most nutritional protocols rely on faith, lacking objective metrics from which the diet can be analyzed. However, unlike other diets, the ketogenic diet can be assessed by examining blood glucose and ketone levels. By definition, a ketogenic diet is any diet that produces ketones, so blood tests were used to determine the efficacy of the diet.” — KetoPet

KetoPet Sanctuary doesn’t claim that this diet is a cancer cure. What they do say is that until they came along in 2014, no other organization has “systematically tested” the diet in dogs with cancer. Today, more than half of the dogs who graduated from their program are still thriving, with many outliving their cancer prognosis. Hopefully the organization can eventually fund studies backed by notable veterinary nutrition researchers like Dr. Donna Raditic.

There’s no doubt that many skeptical veterinarians and human cancer researchers will conclude that even with KetoPet’s testing, there’s still not enough hard evidence to prove that this diet helps pets fight cancer. And even holistic vets familiar with the Ketogenic diet will tell you that when done improperly, it can put a dog at risk of pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). Diabetic dogs can also be put at risk with the Ketogenic diet.

Our Conclusion About the Ketogenic Diet

The Ketogenic diet definitely has certain risks that should be carefully weighed with your veterinarian. But whether we’re discussing people or pets with cancer, it makes sense to us that eating a healthy, fresh, whole food diet is infinitely better than eating processed foods.

If you want to give this or any new diet a try, please do it under the guidance of someone who knows more about pet nutrition than you do. Your veterinarian is the first place to start and if you need more help, contact a veterinarian with nutrition expertise though the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and the American Holistic Veterinary Medicine Association directory.

Keto Diet for Pet Cancer: More Information and Resources

The KetoPet e-Book. Sign up for the KetoPet Sanctuary’s email list for free Ketogenic Pet Diet guide.
Keto Kitties Raw Food Recipe
Science-Based Medicine: “Ketogenic diet does not “beat chemo for almost all cancers.
NPR, Your Health: Fighting Cancer By Putting Tumor Cells On A Diet
Pet Tao: The Benefits and Dangers of a Ketogenic Diet For Dog
Dr. Judy Morgan DVM: Feed the Dog, Not the Cancer

 

 

 

4 Responses to “Keto Diet for Pet Cancer: What’s Fact? What’s Not?”

  1. To many veterinarian’s believe kibble (processed food), is the best food for dogs and cats. They are not introduced to a healthy raw food diet in veterinarian school so unfortunately, their fur clients suffer from a kibble carb diet which their body converts to 50%-60% sugar. Sugar feeds cancer! You need to locate a holistic veterinarian who is educated in the raw food diet.

  2. Thanks for reading Carmen! I agree it’s always good to seek out a holistic veterinarian’s input to get a full range of opinions about the best diet for our animals.

  3. At least start teaming veterinarians up with pet nutritionists. The combined knowledge and experience would do wonders to help owners develop meal plans for their pets based on what they can reasonably afford. Especially with raw diets, it’s overwhelming to see the preparation, storage, budget, etc. that goes into it. That alone scares people to stick with the easy option of kibble. A little creativity catered to each family’s specific living and financial situations could go a long way to getting pets on healthier diets and preventing expensive medical costs as those pets age.

  4. We couldn’t agree more Zae, thank you for these great suggestions. Yep, we’ve done the home cooking / raw feeding at different times and it did get to be overwhelming when we took a DIY approach. It would be great to see more dogs and cats eating healthier, with the approval of their veterinary team and nutritionists alike.

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