Because wolves fast sometimes it does not mean that domestic dogs have to

Wolves don’t deliberately fast to improve their health so why should we fast dogs? If you asked the question, “Should dogs fast one day a week?” Google finds a page full of answers which recommends fasting your dog for a day every week because “it will bring tremendous health benefits” to your canine friend. So the mainstream advice is that limited fasting and no more is beneficial to companion dogs.

Dr Desmond Morris, is a cat and dog behaviourist who I respect tremendously and he disagrees. He argues that because the feeding pattern for the wolf in the wild may include the occasional forced fasting, sometimes for days on end, this should not be taken as a guide for domestic dogs.

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Wolf. Picture: Pixabay

He argues that because the wolf is forced to fast occasionally it does not mean that the domestic dog has to because if wolves were given a richer environment, plentiful in prey, they would eat several times daily. It is argued that this is their preferred eating regime. Are people arguing that nature arranged things such that the wolf was made to starve intermittently for the benefit of this animal?

Although there are also many articles on the internet about the health benefits of fasting for humans. It is hard to escape the conclusion that controlled fasting has been shown scientifically to improve health, to control weight better and to enhance brain function. Fasting is of course the abstinence from all food for a set period of time. There must be a whole range of fasting but I won’t go into that here.

In the wild, sometimes wolves go without food for 14 days. They follow these periods with massive gorging and rapid digestion when they finally track down and kill a large prey animal.

Dr Desmond Morris, in answer to the question, “How often do dogs feed?” answers by saying that they should be fed two times a day with freshwater providing the food is varied and not restricted to meat. This is because although dogs and wolves are carnivores they can eat an omnivorous diet to a certain extent. Wild wolves and wilds eat plant-based foods in the gut of the animals that they kill.

So what is the conclusion about fasting your dog? It is a personal choice. I’d bet that the vast majority of dog owners don’t do it and perhaps that is the answer.

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