Fasting Could Lengthen Your Dog’s Life
Feral dogs, as well as their distant relatives the wolves, do not eat every day. You may think, sure, they don’t eat every day because they can’t always find food. That might be true, but it might also be that they instinctively know something about their systems that we humans have missed – Fasting for better health.
A dog’s digestive tract is a complex and amazing system. It has the power to not only get rid of toxins – including parasites, viruses, bacteria and chemical toxins – but it remembers those toxins next time they come into the body, and knows to dispel them. HOWEVER, when dogs get food every day, the system never has a chance to “catch up” and reset. It is constantly working to remove the bad stuff from the good stuff. This can cause issues in the body, including miscommunication where the body mistakes the dog’s own cells for invaders and begins to attack the dog’s own healthy cells and tissues. This is an autoimmune disorder and can present itself in a variety of outward systems. In addition, when the digestive system is constantly working to digest new food, build-up of harmful toxins, excess fat and other harmful bacteria can occur. These all contribute to these common dog ailments:
· Arthritis (especially linked to the auto-immune disorder)
· Allergies (especially linked to the auto-immune disorder)
· Liver disease
· Yeast overgrowth
· Chronic Upset stomach, including diarrhea
The Benefits of Fasting in Dogs
Periodic fasting allows the dog’s body to “clean house” so to speak. It can get rid of all the bad stuff, including any toxic build up that has occurred from constant food intake, and to reset its normal balance so it continues to operate at peak performance.
As you can see from above, a dog whose digestive system is not running at peak performance can have a lot of chronic issues.
Fasting helps by increasing anti-bacterial function, immunity (through increased immunoglobulin levels), cancer-fighting (through increased killer cell activity, which targets tumour and virus-infected cells), and fight inflammation (through increased monocytes, which ingest infectious agents).
During fasting, stored fat is used as well, helping getting rid of any stubborn weight your dog may have. And waste products that the liver was not able to process and were therefore stored in the fat are finally released – this can include pesticides from the environment and flea control!
In “A longitudinal study of the influence of lifetime food restriction on development of osteoarthritis in the canine elbow” published in 2009, clinical tests on Labrador Retrievers showed that restricting calories to 70 percent of the diet for a fast decreased arthritis in joints.
And, perhaps most important to all dog owners, fasting has shown in several studies on several different species, including canine, to lengthen lifespan. One study done by Mark Mattson and his team at the United States National Institute on Aging found that mice, when fed nothing every other day, had a “much longer” lifespan and were “a lot” healthier. It should be noted that the mice were allowed to eat as much as they wanted on the day they were given food, and they usually consumed about double what a mouse normally would.
Studies by the University of Columbia found that fasted rats recovered from spinal injuries quicker, with increased neuronal regeneration.
These are just a few examples of studies showing the benefits of fasting.
Fasting not Starvation
It’s important to note that we are talking about careful and controlled fasting, not starvation. Starvation occurs when the body doesn’t get enough nutrients to continue normal function. After consuming fat reserves, the body will start to use the proteins within its own muscle tissues. You do not want this! However, a fast done correctly will not put your dog in any danger of starvation.
As mentioned above, fasting does not have to be a total cut-off of food. Researchers have found even cutting your dogs food down by 70% for a day can be beneficial. Many people who fast their dogs give them a protein broth (such as chicken or beef stock) on fasting days, to make sure they get a bit of protein (and let’s face it, to keep their dog from begging all day!).
How often should your dog fast? Most do once a week for 24 hours. Some people do 36-48 hours. And then you need to decide if are going to do a complete fast (no food), broth, or just reduce his food to 70%. Talking to your vet about the different options and what is right for your dog may be wise.
ABSOLUTELY BE SURE YOUR DOG HAS AN UNLIMITED SUPPLY OF WATER DURING THAT TIME. This helps flush the system. Remember, to feed your dog more the day before and after the fast, so he is still getting those nutrients.
Fasting is also good for humans, so you may decide to join in and have a fasting day where both human and canine let their systems flush and reset, so you can both live longer, healthier, lives.