Just as the incidence of cancer has become more common in humans, cancer in dogs is also occurring more often. In fact, according to WebMD Pets, cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10. And, VeterinaryPracticeNews.com reports that the disease is responsible for about half of all canine deaths.
Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to cancer, especially purebreds such as Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Boxers.
Pet health experts say dog spaying is one of the best ways to prevent your pet from developing certain hormone-dependent forms of the disease. However, many vets also suggest vitamins and nutritional supplements to boost your dog's immune system and can help reduce his likelihood of developing cancer.
According to DogAware.com, supplements including omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA), selenium, bioflavonoids, bromelain, amino acids (such as arginine and glutamine) and vitamins A, B, C, D and E may be beneficial in cancer prevention.
Scientists are also studying other supplements such as curcumin and artemisinin to determine if they can help ward off the disease.
According to VeterinaryPracticeNews.com, in 2008, Americans spent $1.4 billion on supplements for animals. While many veterinarians support the use of supplements in dogs, they also caution owners to be careful when choosing and purchasing these products for their animals.
Vets say choosing supplements that carry a label from the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) is important in maintaining your pet's safety. The NASC is a non-profit trade organization comprised of companies providing health and nutritional supplements that comply with a set of guidelines for good manufacturing practices.
"Some clients want to purchase supplements from wholesale stores, but there is little regulation and you don't know what's in it," veterinarian Dr. Carmine Bausone told the website. "It is better to purchase supplements created for animals when that is the patient they are intended for. I carry everything I prescribe to patients or suggest they purchase the supplement carrying the NASC label. Some supplements, especially Chinese herbs, may carry high levels of lead, mercury or other toxins, depending on where they are grown."
Those who want to utilize pet supplements for their cancer-fighting properties should speak with a veterinarian to determine which substances are likely to be the most beneficial for their pet. He or she may also suggest dietary changes and can help develop a personalized supplement plan.