Studies show that cancer first became a big issue for golden retrievers in the 1990s. Before then, the breed at large wasn’t particularly at an increased risk. What’s more, studies show that cancer has especially become an issue for American golden retrievers. Their European counterparts aren’t nearly as affected according to Dr. Karen Becker.
While this may be good news if you happen to have a European golden retriever, American golden retrievers are still at a high risk of developing lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma. So what can be done? Dr. Karen Becker recommends:
•Don’t allow your dog to become overweight. Studies show that restricting the amount of calories an animal eats prevents and/or delays the progression of tumor development across species, including canines.
Fewer calories cause the cells of the body to block tumor growth, whereas too many calories can lead to obesity, and obesity is closely linked to increased cancer risk in humans…It’s important to remember that fat doesn’t just sit on your pet’s body harmlessly. It produces inflammation that can promote tumor development.
•Feed an anti-inflammatory diet. Anything that creates or promotes inflammation in the body increases the risk for cancer. Current research suggests cancer is actually a chronic inflammatory disease, fueled by carbohydrates. The inflammatory process creates an environment in which abnormal cells proliferate.
Cancer cells require the glucose in carbohydrates to grow and multiply, so you want to eliminate that cancer energy source. Carbs to remove from your pet’s diet include processed grains, fruits with fructose, and starchy vegetables like potatoes. Keep in mind that all dry pet food contains some form of starch. It may be grain-free, but it can’t be starch-free because it’s not possible to manufacture kibble without using some type of starch.
Cancer cells generally can’t use dietary fats for energy, so high amounts of good quality fats are nutritionally beneficial for dogs fighting cancer, along with a reduced amount of protein and no carbs…
A healthy diet for your pet – one that is anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer – consists of real, whole foods, preferably raw. It should include high-quality protein, including muscle meat, organs and bone. It should also include high amounts of animal fat, high levels of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids), and a few fresh cut, low glycemic veggies..
A few beneficial supplements like probiotics, medicinal mushrooms, digestive enzymes, and super green foods can also be very beneficial to enhance immune function.
•Reduce or eliminate your dog’s exposure to toxins. These include chemical pesticides like flea and tick preventives, lawn chemicals (weed killers, herbicides, etc.), tobacco smoke, flame retardants, and household cleaners (detergents, soaps, cleansers, dryer sheets, room deodorizers).
Because we live in a toxic world and avoiding all chemical exposure is nearly impossible, I also suggest offering a periodic detoxification protocol to your pet.
•Allow your dog to remain intact (not neutered or spayed), at least until the age of 18 months to two years. Studies have linked spaying and neutering to increasing cancer rates in dogs. Even better, investigate alternative ways to sterilize your pet without upsetting his or her important hormone balance.
•Refuse unnecessary vaccinations. Vaccine protocols should be tailored to minimize risk and maximize protection, taking into account the breed, background, nutritional status and overall vitality of the dog.
The protocol I follow with healthy puppies is to provide a single parvo and distemper vaccine at or before 12 weeks, and a second set after 14 weeks. I then titer (ask your vet to run titers at a lab that uses the IFA method) two weeks after the last set and if the dog has been successfully immunized, he is protected for life.
I do not use or recommend combination vaccines (five to seven viruses in one injection), which is the standard yearly booster at many veterinary practices. In my experience, this practice is completely unnecessary and immunologically risky.
Read more about cancer in golden retrievers and what Dr. Becker has found here. While it may not be completely preventable, there are many things we, as their guardians can do to help prevent cancer and set them up for success to have long, healthy lives.
If you are concerned that your golden may be at risk, talk to your vet about Dr. Karen Becker’s findings and what you can do.