May 10th, 2017
Houston, we have a problem
May 6th, 2017
A brief primer on canine metabolism, health and longevity
Thinking about caloric control.
Okay, so, ‘intermittent eating’ is just another way of gaining insight into what fasting or intermittent fasting is really teaching us. Consider this: dogs in the wild don’t eat three meals a day- in all likelihood, they may eat one meal every three days! We’ll tackle in a moment whether or not this is actually a good thing.
For those new to fasting, it really isn’t the same thing as starvation- rather, it describes an extension of the period of time without food, or techniques for controlling caloric density. That could shake down to only feeding your doggy once per day, or having a 6 hour window of time where they eat multiple meals, and an 18 hour window of time where no caloric consumption occurs. Now, why would anyone want do this for themselves, or for their furry friend? Let’s explore.
Should I fast my best friend?
It’s a pretty well understood scientific constant that controlling calories by an overall reduction, or by extending the window of time without eating, helps just about any organism (worm, bird, primate, canine) not only live longer, but behave and appear more youthful when they are older.
Ancestrally (i.e., before the advent of agriculture) both dogs and humans lived through cycles of feast and famine. It’s only in the modern epoch where Pizza and Pizza flavored doggy treats are readily available, that we and our canine companions can remain constantly in feast mode.
Interestingly, you may observe your dog ‘intermittently eat’ if they are not feeling well, or if their level of activity is lower for some reason.
Research demonstrates the favorable effects of fasting, insofar that during periods of time without food, mitochondria release fewer free radicals. Inflammation underlies many degenerative diseases, and fasting has been shown to decrease the incidence of cancer,   mitigate or reverse arthritis, cognitive decline, and Type II diabetes.
Additionally, fasting for 48 hours or longer has been shown to protect normal cells, but not cancer cells, from the toxic effects of chemotherapy in humans. So far, less is known about this phenomenon in Veterinary Medicine, but it could be worth validating for companion animals with cancer.
Well, specifically, what should I do with my doggy at home?
Here’s the take-away: every Pet Parent reflexively wants to be the best steward of their doggy’s health. That said, obesity and over feeding in dogs is common. The use of ‘intermittent eating’ and caloric control can be an effective strategy for keeping a dog lean, and helping them to perform and feel better as they age.
For those who wish to explore fasting with their fur baby, one can start with a gradual reduction in overall calories and observe the effects- modest weight loss is one anticipated outcome. Another technique can be to feed normally, just every other day.
Some find it easier to adjust calories by time period, for example, by only feeding between the hours of 8:00AM and 4:00PM. Alternatively, some folks will adjust caloric density based on level of activity- during times of intense exercise calories go up, while no calories are offered during sedentary periods- this is a very responsive way of feeding at interval.
Finally, replacing a portion of a standard serving of kibble with fibrous raw vegetables such as green beans, or feeding a raw meat diet low in carbohydrate, are very simple methods of controlling calories.
Feeding your dog purposefully with their long-term health in mind, will offer both you and them a longer and more enjoyable life experience.
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