Cancer is all too common in dogs and it’s the leading cause of their death. By some estimates, there’s a one in three chance your dog will be diagnosed with cancer. Some types are more common than others.  That makes cancer prevention as important to them as it is to humans.

Antioxidants (and their bioflavonoid cousins) are well-known for their health benefits, including cancer prevention and sometimes treatment. Many studies have been done on humans and animals, with positive or mixed results.

“Antioxidants protect the body’s cells and tissues from free radicals, which are made when our bodies use oxygen,” writes the Canadian Cancer Society. “Free radicals can damage cells, which may lead to cancer. Antioxidants are thought to help protect cells by removing free radicals before they cause damage.”

The value of these natural wonders is anchored in prevention. There have been positive results from incorporating them into the diet of those who already have cancer, but some studies show at that point they may do more harm than good. The problem appears to be related to the use of supplements or high doses. Organic natural sources (namely whole food and herbs) help to prevent over-consumption of antioxidants, which may make some cancers worse or interfere with treatment. Plus, whole food sources come packaged with other cancer-fighting nourishment and anti-cancer properties.

For example, seaweed is a rich source of antioxidants. It also offers several other properties that have been found to protect against cancer, including lymphoma (common in dogs and cats).  Each property tackles cancer in different ways, including:

  • Inhibition of cancer-cell multiplication and attachment
  • Preventing the production of blood vessels in tumors to arrest growth
  • Prevention of free radical damage
  • Preventing Metastasis

That isn’t to say you should never use supplements. Some of the best sources of antioxidants for dogs are easier to administer as a supplement. Or there may be no food sources that contain a high enough level to be beneficial, such as Arabinogalactan. Bioavailability from food sources can be a problem sometimes, which the better supplements are designed to offset (such as Curcumin supplements with BioPerine). You can either use small portions of each supplement, or only give your dog a supplement a couple of times/week instead of daily.


Cancer treatment should be undertaken with the guidance of your veterinarian. Inform your veterinarian if you make changes to your dog’s diet or add natural supplements, to prevent drug interactions or treatment complications.

“Further preclinical and clinical studies are needed to establish the clinical implications of antioxidant doses and timings based on treatment regimens, disease stage, and especially immune suppression status,” cautions the study, Potential Contributions of Antioxidants to Cancer Therapy: Immunomodulation and Radiosensitization.

8 Antioxidants That Fight Canine Cancer

Some antioxidants are more powerful than others and some are known to be better for cancer prevention and treatment, in both humans and dogs. That’s what we’ve focused on here.

1. Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid that is even more potent than other carotenoids.
“I believe that astaxanthin is the most powerful carotenoid in terms of free radical scavenging,” states Dr. Mercola. “It is 65 times more powerful than vitamin C, 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene, and 14 times more powerful than vitamin E.”
Best Sources of Astaxanthin for Dogs: Krill, shrimp and algae supplements (especially Haematococcus pluvialis).

2. Turmeric Curcumin

Curcumin is a strong anti-inflammatory that comes from Turmeric, which boasts a number of anti-cancer properties.
Best Source of Curcumin: Organic, digestible supplement.

3. Arabinogalactan

Arabinogalactan protein (AGP) possesses strong antioxidative activity, and also offers a number of other cancer-fighting properties.
Best Source of Arabinogalactan: Supplement 

4. Epigallocatechin-3 Gallate

Studies have shown Epigallocatechin-3 Gallate targets an enzyme that fuels tumor growth.
Best source of Epigallocatechin-3 Gallate: Pure Green Tea. Do not use Green Tea Extract supplements. Brew a weak tea instead.

5. Lycopene

A super carotenoid antioxidant known to prevent cancer, including lung cancer.
Best Sources of Lycopene: Ripe, cooked tomatoes and seedless watermelon.

6. Procyanidins

Studies have shown procyanidins “inhibit the proliferation of tumor cells.”
Best source of Procyanidins: Apples. Team apples up with cinnamon and you’ll add even more antioxidants (and flavour).

7. Vitamin D

“Vitamin D-3, which is the most bioavailable form of Vitamin D, is one of the most powerful anti-cancer vitamins in nature,” claims Conscious Lifestyle Magazine. “Research on Vitamin D and cancer shows that it positively influences over 200 genes in the body, reduces inflammation, inhibits the cancer cell’s growth and replication cycle, inhibits new tumor blood vessel growth, and induces cancer cell self-destruction.”
Best sources of Vitamin D: Egg yolks and fatty fish like sardines.

8. Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid antioxidant. Studies have shown that it inhibits tumor growth, causes cancer cells to self-destruct, and may make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy.
Best Sources of Quercetin: Leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, berries and green tea.

What about Vitamin C?

Dogs and cats synthesize their own Vitamin C (humans don’t). A healthy dog probably isn’t lacking in Vitamin C, and he’ll ingest some with other foods on our list of anti-cancer antioxidants. Too much Vitamin C may cause digestive upset.

Amazing Antioxidant Dog Treats

Amazing Antioxidant Dog Treat Recipe

© Formulated exclusively for by Melody McKinnon
1 1/2 cups barley flour
1 1/2 cups green pea flour (or other flour substitute)
1/2 tsp unprocessed/raw sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp Spirulina Powder
1 egg
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
2/3 cup lightly-brewed green tea
1/8 cup pure Manuka honey
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unseasoned, unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup strawberries (chopped small)
Empty 1, 500mg capsule of Arabinogalactan into mix
Empty 1, 500mg capsule of Turmeric Curcumin into mix

Preheat Oven: 350F
Mix all ingredients together. Add more flour or liquid if required to reach desired consistency.
Roll into 1″ balls and place on cookie sheets, greased with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until they are just starting to brown.
Serve 1-2 treats per day. Freezes well.

??? Have you changed your dog’s diet to prevent cancer? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Additional Sources:
Astaxanthin inhibits tumor invasion by decreasing extracellular matrix production and induces apoptosis in experimental rat colon carcinogenesis by modulating the expressions of ERK-2, NFkB and COX-2. 2011. 
An Apple a Day May Hold Colorectal Cancer at Bay: Recent Evidence from a Case-Control Study. 2011. 
Structural characteristics, fluorescence quenching, and antioxidant activity of the arabinogalactan protein-rich fraction from senna (Cassia angustifolia) leaves. 2011. 

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Natural Sunscreen Foods for Dogs (Infographic)
7 Natural Remedies for Anxiety, Nervousness or Fear in Dogs and Cats


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4 thoughts on “Fight Canine Cancer with These 8 Antioxidants + Dog Treat Recipe

  1. antioxidants are good for the whole family! It’s so easy to include pets in most food healing & prevention just share your own meal or the parts that are good for that pet. My dogs only get human food and I’ve spent a ton of time learning about it from books, the internet and my vet. It’s worth every effort I promise you.

  2. Its always worth the effort to learn about health & whip up something healthy for my girls! Antioxidants are proven cancer fighters in humans but I never really thought about them for dogs other than giving them krill oil. Its all good for them in other ways too!

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