Why Is Intermittent Fasting Beneficial For Dogs?
Dogs share 99.8% of the same DNA makeup as a wolf. A species-appropriate diet will benefit your dog the most because it is what they were designed to eat if they were in the wild. Similarly, the frequency of their meals can benefit your dog’s overall health as well. Like wolves, if your dog was in the wild they would not have constant access to food.
Due to the availability of prey, it may be a natural occurrence that they may only eat once a day. This cycle of eating and then fasting contributes to making their bodies and immune system stronger. Also remember, a dog’s nutritional needs are different than ours. We have to keep in mind how they were biologically designed to survive and thrive. Intermittent fasting can be beneficial to your dog by naturally flushing out toxins, using all the energy to regenerate rather than using it for digestion, and promoting overall self-healing.
How Do I Intermittent Fast My Dog?
There are different ways to fast your dog, but intermittent fasting means feeding your dog once or twice during a 6-8 hour period, and then fasting them for the other 16-18 hours. This is called the 16/8 method; 16 hours fast, then an 8-hour window for eating. Another method is feeding your dog breakfast, and then fasting for 24 hours till the next breakfast meal (or same time frame for starting fast after dinner).
5 Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting for Dogs:
Body & Tissue Regeneration - Due to the periodic absence of food, the entire body will have more energy to use on regeneration instead of using it on digestion and absorbing nutrients. Healthier cells will replace unhealthy cells and overall body regeneration will take place.
Destroy Bacteria and Viruses - Fasting will increase the macrophage activity, which acts as a defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances. It will also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, resulting in overall gut health.
Weight Loss - Intermittent fasting will boost the metabolism by cleansing the body from toxins. Fasting also reduces insulin levels, which will decrease inflammation leading to weight loss. The body will also use sugar for energy, which in turn will be burned leading to weight loss as well.
Reduced Risk Of Cancer - Fasting enhances the activity of natural killer cells, which kill tumors and other unhealthy cells that have been infected with a virus of any type.
Strengthen Immune System - Fasting allows the digestive system to take a break and lets the body focus on other important bodily functions. This allows the immune system to recharge and promote self-healing wherever the body needs it.
Tips for Intermittent Fasting For Dogs
Make sure they have access to fresh drinking water at all times
Don’t fast on high activity days
No treats during the fasting period, only water
Don't give in to the puppy eyes! Your dog is not starving, remember this is a natural occurrence in nature.
While intermittent fasting is beneficial for many, please consult a holistic or integrative veterinarian to be sure it is a safe practice for your dog. Generally, fasting is safe for mature healthy dogs, but maybe catastrophic to a dog with diabetes, a growing puppy in need of nutrients, some smaller breeds, or dogs suffering from certain conditions.
Intermittent fasting can benefit your dog’s overall health, wellness, and longevity while preventing disease and other health issues. As we strive to feed our dogs a species-appropriate diet that mimics natural, we also believe practices such as intermittent fasting can help enhance your dog's life. Instead of fighting disease, let’s do our best to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Sources: CaliRaw, Dogs Naturally