The Antidote to Canine Cancer: You Will Never Look At Fat The Same Way Again

Adipose tissue (fat) is the biggest endocrine organ that produces hormones and cytokines that create a constant state of chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is a recipe for disaster. Obesity predisposes dogs to many serious diseases such as

  • cruciate ligament ruptures
  • intervertebral disk disease
  • osteoarthritis
  • congestive heart failure
  • Cushing’s disease
  • skin disorders
  • and some types of cancer
The Antidote to Canine Cancer: You Will Never Look At Fat The Same Way Again


What if I told you that by keeping your dog thin you can decrease the chance of them getting cancer?

Jasmine’s best buddy died of cancer at the age of 7. He was always on the chubby side. “It’s just a bit of winter fat,” his owner would say. Of course, he had more going for him than just that, and he was a Boxer. Apparently, Boxers are the second breed most prone to cancer, right after Golden Retrievers.

The average lifespan of Boxers should be around 11 years, though some resources list as high as 11 to 14 years. However, Jasmine’s vet wasn’t at all surprised that he would have died of cancer at the age of 7!

Dog cancer contributing factors

There are a number of factors contributing to canine cancer, some of which we have lesser control over than others.

Potential contributing factors to your dog getting cancer include:

  • genetics
  • hormonal levels
  • early spay and neuter (for some cancers)
  • environmental carcinogens
  • chronic inflammation

When I brought some of them up with Jasmine’s vet, however, he felt very strongly that obesity plays a much more substantial role that many of those discussed. “Fat is highly metabolically active,” he said.

Understanding fat tissue

Fat is metabolically active? What does that mean?

What we all know is that fat tissue is the means of long-term energy storage. This function was very useful when neither man or dog knew where their next dinner was coming from–not so much today. You might also know that fat tissue serves as insulation from heat and cold and as protective padding around organs.

Hormone production

What you probably don’t know, is that fat tissue (adipose) is, in fact, a complex organ with other important functions, including hormone production!

You heard right. Fat cells also called adipocytes or lipocytes, besides their well-known function of storing energy, also produce a number of signaling molecules (adipokines). This gives fat tissue systemic influence.

Obesity induces inflammation

The molecules function as hormones and are involved in metabolism as well as inflammatory response. Fat tissue secretes both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory adipokines. In an obese dog, inflammatory signaling molecules are prevalent.

In other words, fat tissue is involved in immune response. It regulates immune cells and it is able to induce inflammation and anti-tumor response.

An adipokine that is viewed as a link between obesity and cancer is called adiponectin. Adiponectin has been found to inhibit the development and growth of cancer. The more adiponectin is present in the blood, the higher is your dog’s resistance to cancer.

So what’s the problem?

Obesity inhibits the production of adiponectin. That, in turn, increases vulnerability to cancer. In other words, less fat means more adiponectin but excess fat works the opposite way.

Between chronic inflammation and reduced adiponectin levels, obese dogs are more vulnerable to developing cancer.

Your dog’s body has been designed to maintain health. However, it can only do that in its optimal state. Among other health benefits, keeping your dog at his optimal weight plays an important role in cancer prevention!

Related articles:
Breaching the Subject of Canine Obesity: No TV Tonight!

Further reading:
Are Overweight Dogs at a Higher Risk for Cancer?
Beyond the Belly: The health consequences of pet obesity

Categories: Dog health advocacy

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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