At some point in their life, dogs and cats may become sick with cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death of pets and statistics are climbing at an ever increasing rate. November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month and we wanted to discuss the ketogenic diet, how it can help your pet if diagnosed with cancer, and provide pet parents with reliable resources to continue their research on the diet.
The Cancer Epidemic
The cancer that is seen in humans is very similar to that in pets, especially to the types of cancers. According to the Veterinary Cancer Society, there are up to 100 types of animal cancer, which includes skin, head and neck, bone, lymphoma, and abdominal tumors. The words “tumor” or “mass” are commonly used when referring to the the appearance of a neoplasm.
Neoplasms can either be benign or malignant. With benign neoplasms, this means the neoplasms are not spreading throughout the body and are growing at a slow pace. However, with malignant neoplasms, grow rapidly and unpredictably and spread throughout the entire body, which are truly the only type that are cancerous.
According to the Center for Cancer Research, there are nearly 6 million new cancer diagnoses made each year in dogs and cats.
The Ketogenic Diet
A ketogenic diet, or keto for short, is high in fat, moderate protein, and is low in carbohydrates. The idea behind this diet is to switch the body’s natural fuel source from carbs to fats. This is achieving a healthy metabolic state called ketosis and begins usually 3 to 4 days after removing carbs and sugars from a diet.
This diet works because the growth rate of certain cancerous tumors either slows down or diminishes completely due to the body burning fats. The science behind this treatment is new, but shows great promises for the treatment of cancer in human and dogs.
A raw diet and a keto diet conveniently line up with one another. Formulating a raw keto diet requires a 2 to 1 ratio of fat to protein. The 2:1 ketogenic ratio refers to a diet with twice the amount of calories from fat in comparison to protein and net carbohydrates combined.
Recommended amounts for macronutrients calculated to the 2:1 keto ratio can be achieved by feeding ingredients found at local supermarkets. Overall, it is recommended to select pasture raised or wild game ingredients.
The difference between grass-fed livestock and wild game in contrast to factory farmed livestock is in the amount of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids found within their meat. Grass-fed and wild game have more omega-3 essential fatty acids compared to omega-6 fatty acids which help fight against inflammation. However, it is not required to use pasture raised or wild game meats in a raw keto diet.
The primary source of energy and calories are from fat. Following a 2:1 keto raw ratio, this equates to 82% calories from fat. There are three different types of fats including monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fats. Rotating fat sources is recommended to prevent the dog or cat from developing taste aversion to one particular fat source.
Pure fat sources, such as oils, are ideal to use to fulfilling the fat macro recommendations. However, animal and plant based fats can be used as well. Animal based fats, such as pork belly and jowls, provide high amounts of fat but also include small amounts of protein. Plant based fats, such as nuts and seeds, provide healthy fats in addition to carbohydrates.
Clarified Butter, Ghee
1oz (28g) = 255kcal
1oz (28g) = 253kcal
1oz (28g) = 235kcal
Grass Fed Butter
1oz (28g) = 200kcal
1oz (28g) = 186kcal
Uncured Pork Belly
1oz (28g): 147kcal
Salmon, Fish Oil
1tsp (4.5g) = 41kcal
Moderating protein in 2:1 keto raw diets is important. Following a 2:1 ratio, this equates to 17% of calories from protein. Fatty cuts of meat are ideal for keto raw diets to moderate protein levels.
Ground meat products are often used because the meat and fat is evenly distributed; however whole meats can be fed. Higher fat muscle meats are ideal in keto diets but if lean proteins are used, adding additional saturated fats will be necessary.
Organs can be used to contribute to the protein macro recommendations as well as provide beneficial vitamins and minerals. However, organs are high in protein and low in fat and should be fed in small amounts not to overdo protein within the keto 2:1 ratio.
70/30 Ground Beef
1oz (28g) = 94kcal
1oz (28g) = 80kcal
80/20 Ground Beef
1oz (28g) = 72kcal
1oz (28g) = 53kcal
1oz (28g) = 33kcal
1oz (28g) = 38kcal
A low amount of net carbohydrates is required in a 2:1 keto raw diet. Following a 2:1 ratio, this equates to 1% of calories coming from net carbohydrates. Vegetables high in fiber, such as leafy greens, are beneficial for their phytonutrients but are low in net carbohydrates.
Higher amounts of leafy greens are required to fulfill carbohydrate recommendations. Combining high fiber vegetables with moderate fiber vegetables is beneficial in these instances.
1oz (28g) = 10kcal
Net Carbohydrates: 1.18g
1oz (28g) = 7kcal
Net Carbohydrates: 0.9g
1oz (28g) = 6kcal
Net Carbohydrates: 0.5g
1oz (28g) = 7kcal
Net Carbohydrates: 0.43g
1oz (28g) = 10kcal
Net Carbohydrates: 0.05g
DIY Raw Keto Diet
In order to create a home-prepared raw keto diet, the recommended amounts for calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrates needs to be calculated for diet formulation. KetoPet Sanctuary has a user friendly calculator to help pet parents provide their pet with a raw keto diet.
Once calories and macronutrients are calculated, a home-prepared raw keto diet can be prepared with items purchased from local grocery stores. Wild game can also be used as a source of protein if the pet parent has access.
Below is an example of a home-prepared raw keto meal using ingredients from multiple suppliers.
DIY Raw Ketogenic Meal
308g (11oz) | Calories = 1000kcal | Macro Nutrients = 91.07g Fat, 41.51g Protein, 2.5g Net Carbs, 1.71g Fiber.
Featuring Kin+Kind Coconut Oil
165.5g Raw Venison Muscle Meat
Wild game meat provides beneficial essential fatty acids which requires additional fats to be added to the recipe to complete the fat macro nutrient recommendations.
82g Coconut Oil
Raw and cold pressed coconut oil is the fat used in this recipe as it is low in essential fatty acids and will not affect the fatty acid balance in the meal. Coconut oil supplement from kin+kind was used in this recipe.
Broccoli is the main source of carbohydrates and fiber for this recipe.
10g Hemp Seed Hearts
Raw hemp seeds are rich in beneficial fatty acids and minerals beneficial to raw diets. Seeds help achieve carbohydrate and fat macro nutrients in keto diets.
Commercial Raw Keto Diet
Commercial Raw Ketogenic Meal
2 Patties = 16oz (448g) | Calories = 972kcal
Featuring Valiant Pet Nutrition Raw Beef Patties
The diagnosis of cancer is life changing and feeding a keto raw diet can be used as a component in treatment. Below are additional resources on the ketogenic raw diet:
Effects of Ketogenic Diets
A detailed presentation on keto diets in canines by the Epigenix Foundation and Keto Pets Sanctuary.
KetoPet, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, offers a calculator that will help make a ketogenic diet easier, as well as providing other information about their organization and their impact on dogs with cancer.
Long Living Pets Research Project
A private 30 year study on raw fed cats and dogs to help pets live longer healthier lives and limit the risk of cancer.
Perfectly Rawsome strives to provide pet parents with reliable information on raw diets for dogs and cats. The Perfectly Rawsome Guidance Blog is filled with articles to assist beginners on their raw feeding journey as well as information for those who have more experience.
Our raw feeding calculators, list of trusted resources, and comprehensive guides to transition dogs and cats are a few examples of the many features that will be forever free. Join the experience, connect, and share your pet’s raw meals with us on Facebook or tag us on Instagram.