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This post was originally published September 2017. It has been updated with new information and republished.

5 Benefits of fasting raw fed dogs. Do you fast your dog? By allowing the gut to take a break, we're helping our dogs' recharge their immune system. And that's not all!

One of the reasons I became active in the raw feeding community was to create a resource that would allow me to quietly soak in how everyone is feeding their pets.  One topic that comes up, again and again, is the concept of fasting dogs and I want to share how I tackle this step with my dogs.

What is Fasting for Raw Fed Dogs?

Fasting our dogs is a periodic day off from eating.  Wolves aren't eating twice a day, they occasionally fast because their prey isn't always available.  As raw feeders, we're adapting a wolf's diet to that of a domesticated dog and for some raw feeders that means that we should fast our dogs.

Why We Should Consider Fasting our Dogs

A healthy raw fed dog that is at the proper weight probably doesn't necessarily need to fast.  But there are benefits to consider…

  1. Fasting our dogs gives their gut a break from constantly breaking down foods
  2. Fasting promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut
  3. Fasting our dogs allows the immune system to recharge and promotes self-healing
  4. Fasting our dogs helps their system naturally detox
  5. Fasting boosts a dog's metabolism, promoting fat burning and toning

I'm excited about the prospect of fasting because I think it'll be good for Rodrigo and Scout's gut and I think it'll help my girls trim down and stay in shape.

Today, we have a fifth dog, a puppy named Apollo, who we do not fast. I'm not comfortable fasting a puppy that is growing because they need a diet that is balanced daily as they use all of those nutrients to build a strong, healthy adult body.

3 Ways Raw Feeders Incorporate Fasting

At first, I was nervous about fasting my dogs. I worried that they'd be hungry, that I'd have to avoid sad puppy eyes all day, or that they'd get hunger pukes. None of that happened. Our dogs are fine.

If you're worried about fasting your dogs, there are three ways that you can incorporate fasting into your dogs' diet:

1 – Fast your dogs once a week; feeding them a slightly heavier meal the other days to make up for the loss.  The day of the week isn't important; consistency is key.

2 – Fast your dogs by feeding them once a day; the rest of the day mimics fasting as the gut resets itself.  And feeding dogs once a day makes meal planning easier. When you feed once a day, you want to feel 100% of the food in one meal. For instance, if your dog eats two pounds of food daily, then you'll feed a 2-pound meal instead of dividing the food into two 1-pound meals.

3 – Allow your dog to self fast; if your dog doesn't feel like eating, allow him or her to take a break.  My dogs have self-fasted on occasion.  Usually when they have an upset stomach or because they're not hungry.

How to Incorporate Fasting into a Raw Diet

Adding a fasting day to my dogs' routine turned out to be surprisingly easy.  On Friday night, my dogs get a heavier meal than what they usually eat (3-5 ounces more) and they don't eat again for 20-24 hours.  On Friday, they eat between 5-6 p.m.  Their next meal will be between 1 and 4 p.m the following day.  I started with 20 hours and slowly increased the time between meals.  My dogs were fine.  They sleep most of the day anyway.

When I break their fast, I feed them a normal amount of food.  So far, no one has had hunger pukes and although I know the dogs wouldn't mind eating Second Breakfast and Third Dinner, they're doing okay.

Try a No-Fast Fast with Raw Goat's Milk

Over time, I decided to switch it up a bit and instead of doing a true fast, as I did in the beginning, my dogs get two meals of raw goat's milk or bone broth. My boys get 1 cup of milk per meal and my girls get 3/4 cup of milk per meal.

The puppy gets his normal meal.

Is it Necessary to Fast a Raw Fed Dog?

Absolutely not!  I've been feeding raw for more than six years (started in 2013) and I started actively fasted my dogs in 2017. And, as I stated earlier, I would never fast a puppy unless they had an upset tummy and then I would feed them a light meal of bone broth.

While my dogs have enjoyed the benefits of a weekly fast, I don't think fasting is a requirement for a raw fed dog to be healthy.  I believe that it's a great idea to try fasting, especially if you're raising a dog with digestive issues that can benefit from a day of fasting because fasting may help to strengthen the gut.

Whenever I learn something new about raw feeding, I don't immediately jump on board.  Instead, I try to learn as much as possible and if it sounds beneficial to my dogs, I take the time to figure out how best to incorporate it into their diet.  Otherwise, I file it in the “Things That Are Good to Know” cabinet because I'm certain that it'll come up later.

Are you fasting your dog?  What is your system?

Read More About Fasting for Dogs

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