When it comes to the benefits of fasting dogs and cats, fasting can greatly support and benefit your pets’ overall well-being.
It’s actually much easier to implement than you might think, at least physically. However, the mental and emotional aspects can be a bit challenging, which I’ll discuss later in this article.
In this article, I aim to inspire you to start incorporating regular fasting into your pet’s routine. Personally, I fast my two dogs and two cats one day a week, every week, and I’ve noticed a significant increase in their vitality as a result and, as a holistic vet, can attest to the benefits of fasting.
What is fasting?
Fasting, as defined in the dictionary, means depriving oneself of all or some kinds of food, either for medical reasons or for a specific period of time.
The concept is quite simple: you refrain from feeding your animals for a certain period. Naturally, they will experience hunger, but this triggers their immune system and physiology to enter a different mode. The benefits of fasting for their vitality, immune function, and overall well-being are truly remarkable.
What are the benefits of fasting?
- Stabilizes blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance, lowering the risk of developing diabetes. However, if your pet already has diabetes, it’s important to consult your vet before implementing any form of fasting.
- Reduces inflammation throughout the body, which can be beneficial in treating inflammatory conditions like leaky gut, joint pain and many other conditions.
- Supports a healthy heart by improving blood pressure, blood triglyceride levels, and cholesterol levels. Maintaining heart health is crucial, and any measures taken to keep the heart strong and healthy are highly valuable.
- Protects brain health and promotes nerve cell regeneration, particularly important as our pets age, as it can help delay and reduce problems associated with cognitive decline.
- Aids in weight loss. This is particularly significant as many pets struggle with being overweight, which can have detrimental effects on their health and vitality. Through regular fasting, you can help them achieve a healthy weight.
- Increases secretion of Growth Hormone, which supports healthy metabolism, muscle strength, and growth in younger animals.
- Boosts vitality, delays aging, and extends longevity. In fact, one study found that rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than those who were not fasted.
- May aid in cancer prevention and enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Fasting has the potential to inhibit or slow tumor development and improve the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment.
- Causes healthy epigenetic shifts, meaning that fasting can actually alter the functions and expressions of hormones, cells, and genes. This results in beneficial changes related to longevity and disease protection.
- Increases cellular repair by stimulating cellular repair processes, such as the removal of waste products from the cells and the body.
- Reduces oxidative stress, a key factor in many aging and chronic disease processes.
As you can see, the benefits of fasting for pets are significant!
How to fast your pets
The simplest method is to refrain from feeding your pets for a day each week. If you typically feed them once a day, they will go without food for 48 hours.
If you feed them twice a day, a one-day fast would last for 24 hours. It’s important to ensure that your pets have access to plenty of water during the fasting period.
A modified approach would be to reduce their feeding to once a day if you usually feed them twice daily. However, please note that the benefits of fasting will be somewhat diminished with a shorter fast.
Your pets will naturally feel hungry, and this is the whole point of fasting—to trigger the metabolic switch that brings about all the positive changes.
The challenge lies in resisting their pleading eyes and emotional manipulation when they seem to say, “I’m starving to death.” Dogs, in particular, are experts at getting what they want from humans.
To successfully fast your pets and reap the health benefits, you’ll need to be more determined than they are. You must be willing to endure their emotional discomfort and your own distress at seeing them upset.
And guess what? It’s absolutely worth it, considering the strong benefits your pets will experience, especially if you make fasting a regular practice. However, I’m often surprised by the number of clients who instantly say, “Oh, I could never do that to my dogs!”
If you find it too emotionally challenging to completely withhold food from your pets, one alternative is to give them bone broth on fasting days instead of solid food.
Instead of a regular meal, provide them with a cup or two of lightly warmed bone broth. This will provide some of the benefits of fasting, while easing the emotional difficulties associated with withholding food.
As I write this, it’s a fasting day for my own pets. Tonight, they’ll give me those “poor me, I’m starving to death” looks. However, they won’t be getting any dinner because I want them to live long, happy, healthy, and vibrant lives, and fasting is one way to support this!
I encourage you to give fasting a try. The difference it makes for your pets is truly remarkable!
About the Author: Dr Edward Bassingthwaighte is a holistic veterinarian, and a world-leading expert in silent pain in pets. Dr Edward is passionate about fresh raw whole foods for dogs. He is the founder of the Whole Energy Body Balance method- a profoundly healing bodywork modality to relieve silent pain, anxiety and trauma in pets. Join Dr Edward’s free masterclass on silent pain in pets HERE.