Surely you’ve heard of intermittent fasting. It is a holistic health practice that has become extremely popular in the last few years due to its many amazing health benefits and healing properties. Did you know the practice can also be beneficial for dogs? Intermittent fasting, also referred to as therapeutic fasting, is a natural remedy to boost your dog’s immune system, manage existing chronic disease, and prevent other diseases to develop in the first place.
We’ve been hearing a lot about this health trend, but what exactly is intermittent fasting? Many people think it is equivalent to starvation, but it is actually very much the opposite. To starve the body means there is no nutritional intake which is damaging to the body leading to health issues and causing the body to break down. Fasting, on the other hand is very much the opposite. In order to benefit from fasting, your dog must receive a sufficient amount of nutrient intake on non-fasting days. Rather than starving your dog, you are actually creating a nutritional plan of fasting and non-fasting days which leads to maintenance of their vital muscle and organ function.
Dogs share 99.8% of the same DNA makeup as a wolf. As we have discussed, 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 humans. 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.
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).
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. That is something your furry friend will love you for!