Humans and fasting
For many thousands of years, humans have used fasting as a normal way of life. Many do it for spiritual or religious reasons. Some do it in protest to an unjust. Then there are those who understand the health benefits of fasting.
Many people, that I have talked to, think about fasting as having to be days, weeks, or even months long. In some situations, those may be necessary and important for the body to heal. What I am more focused on today is not necessarily lengthy fasts. I have learned how important it is for the human body to be able to take a break from digesting solid foods for ten to fourteen hours, per day. This not only allows the body to rest, but it also allows the body to naturally detox and for the immune system to build and fight anything that needs to be fought.
How does this relate to dogs
It is not hard to understand that dogs in the wild, like wolves and coyotes, can go days, sometimes more, without food. This is mainly due tot he fact that they simply have no food to eat. Now, before your “awe, poor dogs” comments and thinking takes you down a very sad and negative path, let me share how this benefits the wild dog.
When a dog, who has no humans or vets to intervene, starts feeling under the weather, it will stop eating. Not because it is sick and needs medical attention, but because it is their body’s natural response to self-healing. Did you know that when the body is breaking down and digesting food, it takes a lot of energy and work. Think about it; almost every organ and system in the body is “on” during this time. From the mouth to the intestines and from the lymph nodes to the villi in the stomach wall. The liver, pancreas, and the kidney’s are also hard at work, producing enzymes, insulin, and digestive juices. This is necessary so that the for can be broken down into tiny parts that the body can then use for energy, growth, and cell repair.
Knowing how hard the body has to work in order to breakdown food, does it not stand to reason that if the body isn’t constantly working to break down foods, that it might be able to use that energy to do something else, like heal it’s self?Since approximately eighty-percent of your dogs immune system is in the gut, this should be something to truly consider.
My first experiences with fasting dogs
Our youngest daughter has a husky hybrid. That dog taught me so many things about fasting, because she would fast from her food, on a regular basis. I didn’t understand what she was doing because in my human brain, I thought that she must be dying, to turn away food. I mean, if you call your vet and say, “my dog hasn’t eaten today”, they will more than likely tell you that you need to bring the dog in for an exam. That is simply not the case. Please understand…if you dog is experiencing continual vomiting or diarrhea, take them to the vet immediately. If, however, you dog simply doesn’t want to eat for a day or two, don’t force it. Chances are, their bodies are instinctually telling them that it needs a minute to rest and repair.
How to fast your dog
I have read and talked to many holistic veterinarians who recommend fasting your dog. They vary in opinions on duration, but they are all for it. The safest and most “doable”, in my mind, is to simply withhold food from them, one day a week. Does that make you cringe? I know that it make me cringe, when I first started learning about it, but once you understand the positive effects that this could have on your beloved pet, you may change your mind.
In our human brains, when someone mentions withholding food from your dog, this can probably trigger a number of responses: “that’s cruel”, “he depends on me to feed him”, “my dog wouldn’t survive it”, “this has to be a form of abuse”. Let me tell you, as someone who is very careful about what my dogs eat and who cares for them when I am not home, I had that exact mindset. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how this could possibly be a good idea. I mean, will my dogs think that they were bad and that they are being punished?
That kind of thinking is purely guilt driven and is in no way based on scientific, medical facts. When we are guilt feeding our dogs, that can lead to many issues, like overfeeding, which causes obese pets. Obese pets are prone to many problems, including diabetes, pancreatitis, and joint stiffness and pain, just to name a few. Withholding food, from your dog, one day a week, while always providing clean fresh water, is one of the most loving and beneficial things you can do for your fur-baby.
Benefits of fasting
It builds-up the immune system by increasing the bodies immunoglobulin. This, in turn, allows the body a stronger immunity to fight off a variety of diseases and ailments.
It starves killer cells. “Killer cells” grow into “killer masses” when they are constantly being fed. If the “killer cells” are starved of things to feed off of, they die and are able to be passed out of the body.
It increases the ability of the body to fight off and get rid of bacteria. Bacteria can be very bad and anything that has the ability to decrease bacteria in the body, any body, should be considered as good.
It can also decrease inflammation and slow down aging, both, of which, are very beneficial!
The bottom line
The fact is this; if we, can get past the idea that our dogs will hate us for “doing this to them”, and instead realize that ours dogs bodies will thank us for “doing this for them”, we will all benefit. There have been case study after case study done on the subject of fasting, for humans and for dogs; none of which show negative effects. With that being said, this now becomes a mental challenge for us, as owners, because it goes against what we feel “love” should look like. I understand that. However, I hope, for the sake of your pets health, as well as for your own psychological well being, that you will come to the conclusion that this, truly is, the very best way to love your best friend; through self-healing.
Many blessings to you and your four-legged-loves ~ Tammy