Can we prevent cancer in dogs?

Evidence is mounting that – at least for certain types of cancers – the answer is yes.

Physicians have known for years that good nutrition and adequate exercise are an essential part of maintaining our health. Veterinarians are finding that the same advice holds true for our dogs and cats as well.

Early detection is also important. Researchers have proven that finding cancerous lesions before they become malignant or while they are still small and removable can prevent many cancers from becoming life-threatening.

The newest bit of research comes out of the venerable MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas. Researchers there concluded that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, is linked to a significant decrease in the incidence of gastric cancer. Previous research published in one of the leading medical journals, The Lancet, demonstrated that taking low doses of aspirin — once daily for at least five years — decreases the chance of a person getting lung, gastrointestinal, or colon cancer.

Although the research was evaluated in people, dogs and cats respond the same way to NSAIDs. Basically, NSAIDs inhibit a group of enzymes in the body, some of which cause inflammation. Inflammation, especially acute inflammation, is essential for wound healing and other important immune functions. When inflammation becomes chronic in nature, cancer risk increases. Cancer seems to be able to co-opt the cells involved in this process and utilize them to allow malignant cells to proliferate.
Therefore, NSAIDs and other compounds that decrease or stop chronic inflammation may be able to prevent cancer in our pets. Compounds within cruciferous — e.g., kale and broccoli — yellow, orange, and red vegetables decrease inflammation, specifically by blocking the lipid compound Prostaglandin E2. Evidence suggests that feeding dogs these types of vegetables at least three times per week can decrease the risk of bladder cancer in certain breeds.

Vegetables You Can Feed Your Dog
There are risks to the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver from the chronic administration of NSAIDs to dogs. Consult your veterinarian to assess the benefits of cancer prevention against the possible side effects of these medicines. Giving your dog vegetables, however, comes with little to no risk — unless of course, your dog feels the way I do about Brussels sprouts.

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