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 excellent 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 conditions from developing in the first place.
What Is Intermittent Fasting?
We've heard a lot about this health trend, but what exactly is intermittent fasting?
Many people think it is equivalent to starvation, but it is very much the opposite. To starve the body means there is no nutritional intake, damaging the body, leading to health issues, and causing the body to break down. Fasting, on the other hand, is very much the opposite.
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 creating a nutritional plan of fasting and non-fasting days which leads to maintaining their vital muscle and organ function.
As we have discussed, a species-appropriate diet that will benefit your dog the most is designed to deliver what their ancestors ate in the wild.
Similarly, the frequency of their meals can benefit your dog's overall health as well. Like wolves, if your dog were in the wild, they would not have constant access to food.
It's important to remember that a dog's nutritional needs are different than a human's. Due to the availability of prey, it may be a natural occurrence that they only eat once a day. This cycle of eating and then fasting contributes to making their bodies and immune system stronger.
We have to keep in mind how our dogs were biologically designed to survive and thrive. Intermittent fasting can benefit your dog by naturally flushing out toxins, using all their 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 the same time frame for starting fast after dinner).
Your dog can thrive on intermittent fasting for a while- it does not have to be a temporary diet. While temporarily fasting your pup could resolve a variety of health complications, there's no harm in keeping your dog on the diet if they seem to thrive.
On non-fasting days, your dog will need nutrient-rich food to provide them with the energy they consume every day. A raw diet, like Cali Raw Nutrition, delivers all the necessary nutrients alongside a package of health benefits. What nature intended dogs to eat goes perfectly with this eating pattern.
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 for regeneration instead of digestion and absorbing nutrients. Healthier cells will replace unhealthy cells, and overall body regeneration will take place.
Destroy Bacteria and Viruses - Fasting will increase macrophage activity, which protects 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 metabolism by cleansing the body from toxins. Fasting also reduces insulin levels, which will decrease inflammation leading to weight loss. The body will also burn sugar for energy, which causes your dog to lose weight. If your dog is at an unhealthy weight, intermittent fasting may be something to investigate.
Reduced Risk Of Cancer -
Fasting enhances the activity of natural killer cells, which kill tumors and other unhealthy cells that are infected with a virus of any type. When these cells detect cancer, they fire back at it, fighting off the disease. Enhancing these cells’ activity is essential in boosting immune function.
Strengthen Immune System -
Fasting allows the digestive system to take a break and lets the body focus on other essential 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 your dog on high activity days.
No treats during the fasting period; only give your pup water.
Don't give in to the puppy eyes! Your dog is not starving; remember, this is a biologically appropriate approach to their diet.
While intermittent fasting is beneficial for many, please consult a holistic or integrative veterinarian to ensure it is a safe practice for your dog. Generally, fasting is safe for mature, healthy dogs. Still, it may be 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 nature, we also believe practices such as intermittent fasting can help enhance your dog's life. That is something your furry friend will love you for! Instead of fighting disease, let's do our best to prevent it from occurring in the first place.