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Understanding Intermittent Fasting For Dogs

by Lana Paws on February 20, 2023

Is Intermittent Fasting For Dogs A Good Idea?

Intermittent Fasting has become increasingly popular worldwide due to its potential health benefits for humans. For centuries, fasting has been a prevalent practice in various cultures, primarily as a religious observance. Recent human studies have examined the health benefits of fasting, and the outcomes have been predominantly positive and noteworthy.

As a result, many fitness enthusiasts are embracing fasting as a means of accomplishing their fitness objectives and benefiting from the various advantages associated with it.

Through this article, our objective is to explore whether our treasured dogs could also gain advantages from this style of eating regimen. So let's get into it!

What is Intermittent Fasting for Dogs?

Just like for humans, Intermittent fasting aka Time-Restricted Eating for dogs is a feeding strategy in which dogs are fed their daily food in a restricted time period, followed by a longer period of fasting.

The goal of intermittent fasting for dogs is to mimic the natural eating patterns of wild dogs and wolves, who typically hunt and eat in a feast-or-famine pattern.
In the wild, animals do not follow a regular eating schedule like our pet dogs. Instead, they adopt a feast-or-famine pattern based on the availability of their prey. They also have an innate sense of when to stop eating and focus on resting to eliminate toxins and promote self-healing.

You may have observed a similar behavior in your own dog, where they refuse to eat their favorite food when they're unwell.

In the wild, the animal either heals itself by prioritizing rest and healing or succumbs to its illness, depending on its overall health status.

What are the benefits of intermittent fasting for dogs?

Intermittent fasting for dogs has been shown to have some potential health benefits, such as promoting weight loss, improving insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, and increasing lifespan in some animal studies.

  1. Weight loss: Intermittent fasting can help dogs lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight by reducing the amount of food they eat and increasing their metabolism.
  2. Improved digestion: Giving the digestive system a break during fasting periods may help reduce digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting in some dogs.
  3. Improved insulin sensitivity: Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar levels in dogs. This may help reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Reduced inflammation: Some studies have shown that intermittent fasting can reduce inflammation in the body, which may help prevent chronic health conditions in dogs.
  5. Increased lifespan: Animal studies have suggested that intermittent fasting may increase lifespan by promoting cellular repair and reducing oxidative stress.

Allowing your dog to fast gives their body a respite from food digestion and enables them to focus on healing through their immune system.

What is the best fasting window for dogs?

Intermittent fasting for dogs can take different forms, but the most common approach is to feed the dog one or two large meals a day, with a fasting period of 12-24 hours or 8-16 hours between meals.

For example, if you follow a 8-16 hours fasting window, this is what it could look like

  • Feed your dog his first meal at 8 a.m. 
  • Feed your dog his second meal at 4 p.m

You may give a small snack between their meals but nothing except water between 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. the following day. This will mean your dog's eating window will be for 8 hours (between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and fasting window will be for 16 hours (between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m. the next day).

You may also follow intermittent fasting 2-3 times a week instead of daily to start with.

Some dog parents also choose to implement a 24-hour fast once a week or once a month.

We recommend starting with a smaller window such as 12-14 hour and gradually increasing the fasting window over time. 

For sick or old dogs, use a shorter fasting window (13-15 hours) compared to long fasts (24 hours and above).

It's crucial that your dog should have access to fresh & clean drinking water the whole time.

It's important to remember that you're doing this for your dog's good health and it will take for your dog a couple of weeks to get used to it. 

Is It Safe To Fast A Dog?

Intermittent fasting is generally considered safe for all adult dogs (not for puppies) unless your dog has any underlying health conditions. 

It's advisable to consult your veterinarian to  determine if your dog is a good candidate for fasting or not. You may also consult a canine nutritionist to guide you through the fasting process and also to create a customised fasting schedule for your dog based on her dietary requirements.

Have you tried or would you try intermittent fasting for your dog? Share your thoughts in the comment below!

Some animal studies on fasting:

Animal studies have been conducted on rodents, monkeys, and other species to examine the effects of fasting on their health and lifespan.

For example, a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2014 found that mice that followed an intermittent fasting regimen lived longer and had better health outcomes than mice that ate a regular diet. Another study published in the journal Nature Communications in 2016 found that fasting increased lifespan and improved cognitive function in fruit flies.

While these studies are not directly applicable to dogs, they do provide valuable insights into the potential health benefits of intermittent fasting for animals. It's important to note that more research is needed to fully understand the effects of intermittent fasting on dogs and other animal species.

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