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My Senior dog has medical conditions that require a special diet, and I do not want to give her commercial food. What do you recommend?

Q: Hello,I am hoping you could recommend a diet for my dog-I have been preparing her food myself instead of giving her commercial food because of her health conditions. She is a 15 year-old toy poodle, and has chronic bronchitis, a collapsed trachea, a heart murmur, and a malignant mast cell tumor on the surface of her skin near her rear leg, which I have not wanted to treat with surgery or chemo due to her age and weakened immune system. I have been trying to boost her immune system with nutritional supplements and have tried a few different meals for her but unfortunately she often vomits after eating, possibly due to the coughing or the food just not agreeing with her, or maybe both. Anyway, I have read that a low carb, high fat & protein diet is recommended for cancer patients, and I was hoping you could tell me some foods that would fit that description, or else any other dietary suggestions you could offer that you think would be beneficial to her in her condition. Thanks in advance for your help. Lexi and I will be looking forward to your reply…

A: Nutritional requirements in pets certainly become more difficult to sort out for those such as Lexi who have multiple health concerns. For heart conditions a diet low in sodium is often recommended. Unfortunately, with the exception of canine lymphoma, there is no widely accepted dietary recommendation for cancer patients. Studies have shown, however, that cancer patients undergo a dramatic change in the way their bodies metabolize their food. This includes processing carbohydrates through anaerobic metabolism which can lead to build up of acidic material (lactate) in the blood, increased protein breakdown, and changes in lipid metabolism which can lead to fat loss. For these reasons, a diet low in simple carbohydrates and high in protein and fat is often recommended. The Hills company has developed a balanced diet called N/D (neoplasia diet) which meets these requirements, has been tested and proven in bioavailability (ability of the nutrients to be absorbed and used by the body) and palatability (taste). This diet is also relatively low in sodium as well. It is a prescription only diet and therefore must be obtained through your veterinarian. Board certified veterinary nutritionists are also available to help formulate home cooked diets that are balanced and meet other important dietary requirements. It is also very important to follow up with your veterinarian on a regular basis to ensure that your pet’s nutritional needs are being met based on weight, disease progression, and other changes in condition. I hope this information has been helpful. You may call me at 813-988-1189 with any additional questions, concerns, or to pursue obtaining a diet prescription. ~ Dr. Lacie Armstrong.

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