In the third and final part of this little mini-series on the evolution of canines and their nutrition, let’s take a moment to review your dog’s eating schedule, how long they spend each day eating, and how this impacts their digestive system and overall wellbeing.
When Chateau Canine talks with clients about fasting their dogs, there a couple of pretty reliable thoughts that pop up straight away from the owners:
Firstly: How am I ever going to be able to handle my dog’s adorable little face staring up at me asking for food, ESPECIALLY when I know they are hungry?
This is entirely fair enough, and in our experience is the hardest part for parents to get their head around. Its very important to be clear here that we are NOT talking about starving your dog, we maintain the same amount nutritional value being consumed, the timeline that we give them the food however is adjusted slightly to allow the dog’s digestive system to rest for a while between some meals.
Secondly: What are the expected benefits of fasting?
There are many benefits, they can include:
- Fasting can boost health and longevity. Why do you get a “Food-Coma” when you have been filling your face at Thanksgiving or Christmas? Its because digesting food is hard work on the body, while it is digesting food, it struggles to do anything else like removing toxins, regeneration of cells and repair of damage. These fundamental health tasks need to be done on a regular basis, if there is no opportunity to get it done, then system will get backlogged and breakdown.
- Fasting can help the body to fight bacterial infections. Just about anyone who has had a sick dog before knows that when they are down, their appetite disappears. This is similar for humans and just about all animals on the planet. When down with a bug, the hunger alarm is turned off, so that all the body’s energy can be focused on targeting the bacterial infection. Studies from Yale University (Medzhitov, 2016) have shown that the old adage of “feed a cold, starve a fever” has truth to it.
- Improved fat burning and weight loss, improved mental clarity, lowered blood insulin levels, increased growth hormones, lowered blood cholesterol.
Thirdly: When should I NOT fast my dog?
This is definitely the right question to ask, you cannot go and fast your dog willy-nilly, it has to be appropriate for the situation and well planned. Situations of when to NOT fast your dog include:
- If they are a puppy still in growth phase. During growth phase, puppies are constantly in need of comprehensive nutritional resources to build the engine, that is why puppies can sometimes be eating more than adult dogs.
- If your dog has a viral infection. As mentioned above, we need the dog to be eating to help it’s engine fight off a cold, for example.
- Dogs with diabetes. Consult your vet for specific advice on how to proceed in this situation, we do not want to randomly be affecting their insulin levels without a clear plan.
- Your dog is pregnant/whelping. She has a heavy burden on her system from the puppies which needs comprehensive nutritional resources as well.
Fourthly: So, I think I would like to give this a try, how do I fast my dog?
There are two commonly used techniques. The first technique is to skip one day of food a week. On the day before the fast AND the day after the fast, you increase the food to compensate for the loss of nutrition on the day off. The second technique is called intermittent fasting (a lot of hooman doctors are recommending it now, so you may have heard of it). That is when we narrow the time in the day when the dog can eat. For example, if you have traditionally given your dog their meals at 7am and 7pm, then you would change this to having the two meals within a shorter period of time, for example within 6 hours. The remaining 18 hours of the day, the dog is then considered to be in a fasted state. Doing this 2-3 times a week is a great start, slowly getting your dog into a position where it is able to build up to the first technique mentioned above.
It is vital to note at this point in time that your dog should always have fresh water available to them, particularly while fasting!
So, let’s look at the information we have so far, including parts 1 and 2 and 3 of this series:
- Dogs have the right teeth for breaking down meat and raw bones
- Dogs don’t have the right saliva for processing grains, therefore we also can see the quick build-up of tartar on their teeth when excessive amounts of grains/starch is present.
- Dogs have a high amount of very acidic stomach acid ideal for processing meat and raw bones, but this acid does nothing with whole grains
- Dogs are a carnivore with omnivore abilities, meaning they can survive on carby/starchy foods, but thrive on carnivore diet
- Dogs are not meant to graze on food all day long, the evolutionary design of their bodies leans more towards a feast/famine approach to diet and nutrition
We have covered a fair bit of ground in these last 3 posts, if you have any questions at all about how to feed your dog, what to feed, when to feed and definitely WHAT NOT TO FEED, then our door is always open, hit us up on WeChat and will share all the knowledge and information we have for free. (WeChat ID: ChateauCanine)
Chateau Canine’s mission: Keeping your dog healthy, happy and safe in China!
Special Thanks to Jema for the voice contribution! Find her Youtube Channel: Mooncake English
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