10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dogs

  1. Fasting Has Benefits

    Feeding dogs every day is a human invention. Dogs’ closest living relatives, wolves, have a feast-or-famine food regimen. They regularly go for days without eating, or sustain themselves on secondary foods such wild berries when prey is scarce.

All of which is to say that your dog is evolutionarily adapted to periods of fasting. Domestic dogs are generally more sedentary than their wild counterparts, yet we feed them more. It’s no wonder a majority of pet dogs are obese.

Besides what happens in nature, there’s increasing scientific recognition of the benefits of fasting for both dogs and humans. Fasting has been shown to facilitate healing at a cellular level through a process known as autophagy. It’s a psychological hurdle for many owners, who equate love with filling a dog’s bowl. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the opposite is actually the case. Incorporating a once-a-week “fast day” into your dog’s routine can support his natural processes of repair and regeneration and go a long way toward maintaining long-term health.

Fasting is a great first port of call for dog diarrhea or stomach upset, too. Chicken and rice might be the go-to remedy, but diarrhea and vomiting are how the body takes drastic action to quickly empty the gut. You don’t want to counteract this by putting more food in. A 24-hour digestive rest will have your dog back to normal in most cases. (Keep your dog hydrated and, of course, consult your vet if problems persist.)

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