Fasting to make your dog healthier might sound ridiculous to you. But, obesity is a major problem in the United States and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. This is true in people and I suspect it is the same with their pets. Seven states now have obesity rates that exceed 35% with the highest state being West Virginia at 38.1% and the lowest being Colorado at 22.6%.1 Think about that for a minute. The best state in the country has 1 in 5 people that are over-weight. This leads to multiple health system issues including diabetes and joint degeneration.
Why are we talking about this? People tend to feed their dogs as they feed themselves. Too much of the wrong thing. I work in health care and am pleased to see when people lose weight/fat. Usually, this coincides with a reduction in medications because multiple systems improve. They also feel better and then move on to exercise which really helps them to engage life more fully. Exercise is highly associated with an ability to have improved cognition.2 Does anyone need to think a little bit better?
Our family was walking on our rural County Road 2 near Lake of the Woods last fall. Like a proud strutting peacock, a large gray timber wolf stepped out of the woods and onto the highway just 150 yards in front of us. I caught a glimpse of his tall slim frame. It looked like every other wolf, coyote, and fox that I’ve ever seen in the wild. Skinny.
This brings me to my main point. Canines often miss meals. Missing a meal can be a healthy thing as it triggers tapping into fat stores and forces the body into autophagy. This literally means self-eating and a Nobel Prize was awarded for research in this area of study revealing how it super-charges the body’s ability to heal when it is forced to go “clean out the cupboards” so to speak.3
Up North Pyrenees has implemented a feeding schedule where we fast our adult dogs one day per week. I have incorporated this into my normal Monday routine and it makes me feel so much better. My mind is sharper which is a good thing because using my mind is what I use primarily in my day job.
How often should skipping a meal happen? I don’t think anyone has the perfect answer. But, starting with one day a month without a meal is a good start and a long-term manageable practice that could be implemented by owners and their pets alike. Interestingly, the body can go 2-3 days before tapping into the muscle for protein and is a technique bodybuilders have used for decades.4 The best part is that you same money now and later. Does fasting to make your dog healthier sound ridiculous to you? Hopefully, that’s something you can live with.
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- Adult Obesity in the United States. The State of Obesity. https://www.stateofobesity.org/adult-obesity/. Published 2019. Accessed May 2, 2019.
- Publishing H. Exercise can boost your memory and thinking skills – Harvard Health. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-can-boost-your-memory-and-thinking-skills. Published 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.
- Levine B, Klionsky D. Autophagy wins the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: Breakthroughs in baker’s yeast fuel advances in biomedical research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2016;114(2):201-205. doi:10.1073/pnas.1619876114
- How Long Can I Fast Before I Start Losing Muscle? | Livestrong.com. LIVESTRONG.COM. https://www.livestrong.com/article/437499-how-long-can-i-fast-before-i-start-losing-muscle/. Published 2019. Accessed May 3, 2019.