Dog diet with a 3-day-cycle?
October 18, 2014 11:17 AM   Subscribe

Is anybody familiar with a dog diet that employs a 3-day cycle, with one day being a fast day, one day being oatmeal with olive oil and flaxseed (or something like that), and one day with raw meaty bones?

I swear I first saw this as a comment on an AskMe years and years ago, and we used it to great effect with our dog at that time; skin issues cleared up, energy improved, coat became glossy and beautiful. Now I'd like to use it with our current dog, but I can't for the life of me find that comment. Has anybody used this diet or similar, or can find that comment for me? What do I need to include in this diet or consider generally about using it with my dog? Thanks in advance!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
At a glance this seems like a terrible idea for the dog- though it may be good for his health, every dog I've ever known would find this incredibly confusing and traumatic. I'd never make a pet fast.
posted by arnicae at 11:27 AM on October 18, 2014 [28 favorites]

Response by poster: I believe that part of the idea of this diet is to try to replicate to some extent the diet of wild canines, who would not be eating every day; the oatmeal is supposed to be in place of what they would find and eat in the stomach of prey. When we used it before, our dog didn't seem to find it confusing or traumatic; in fact, her general liveliness and jois de vivre seemed to improve markedly. I'd just like to find the original comment (or an authoritative source) to make sure I'm not missing any details on how it should be designed.
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 11:32 AM on October 18, 2014

Your dog is not a wild canine, though. It is the product of countless generations of domestication.
posted by synecdoche at 11:43 AM on October 18, 2014 [42 favorites]

this is an incredibly bad idea. information about your dog's optimum diet should be sought from its veterinarian. it is tempting to anthropomorphize and project human values and experience onto animals that can't speak for themselves, but the animals themselves have a much different experience. imagine if a benign overlord forced you to eat berries, ears of maize and raw meat on three-day cycles.

good dog food every day, i say.
posted by bruce at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

I am going to guess that feeding your dog on a regular daily schedule with raw meaty bones, oatmeal, flaxseed, and olive oil -- or some other variation on a raw diet -- will have the same effect as any sort of schedule like this. It's more likely the types and quality of nutrition your dog was getting that improved his skin and coat, not the schedule he was getting it on.

There are tons of great raw diet sites out there. I could never do it because as much as I love my dogs, making raw dog food is a big pain.

That said, we feed our dog plain old high-quality dog food with a low number of ingredients and no grains or corn and it's been great for his skin and allergy issues.

I'd have to think that if a dog was used to being fed every day, it would get scared and confused when food didn't magically appear as usual.
posted by erst at 11:54 AM on October 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

I suggest you pick up a book on BARF feeding and look around the inet for BARF (=Bones and Raw Food), Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, and the prey model.

A healthy diet for dogs should consist of meat and bones mostly, grains are not that great, fruit and veggies are okay, and you can feed a lot of herbs from your garden like nettle and dandelion leaf. But that is not enough, you need to supplement any raw diet with vitamins and minerals. Please read up on that part of raw feeding!

What your dog needs depends on its age as well. Fasting is not okay for dogs younger than one year, as they are still growing. Older dogs do okay with one fasting day a week, to the best of my knowledge. Fasting is supposed to give the digestive systems a bit of rest, but it does not mean that the dog is not allowed to eat at all. Most people feed a liquid meal on such days to tide the dog over.

A word on grains: Grains, corn and soy along with dairy are trigger foods and can lead to allergies (that can manifest in skin and fur issues like dandruff, bald patches or a greasy coat) or even more serious conditions like seizures in sensitive dogs. Grains are used as filler in a lot of commercial pet food because grains are cheap, many raw feeding diets however restrict the use of grains because of the associated issues.
posted by travelwithcats at 12:22 PM on October 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

I just wanted to throw out the possibility that what you were interpreting as joie de vivre was actually the dog's instinct to please you and perform for you kicking in when it realized it was not getting its regular meals.

I work with dogs full time and have owned dogs for years. From my experience the rhythms of life are very important to them. Eating is an important time of day and they absolutely will be confused to be forced to fast. My oldest dog has been positively, visibly distressed when I merely cut the amount I was giving her.

So please consult a veterinarian. The fact that it is offered up as a good idea in some Metafilter comment doesn't make it so.
posted by jayder at 12:46 PM on October 18, 2014 [24 favorites]

Please remember that when referring to canids consuming the stomach content of prey (to justify the inclusion of grains in the diet), it's important to make the distinction that when canids are doing this, that they are consuming partially-digested remnants - plant and grain matter that has already been broken down by the preys' digestive system. And it's because of this predigestion by the prey that canids, who would otherwise be unable to derive much nutrition from plant matter, are able to derive benefit.

It is, unfortunately, not the same as just giving a big bowl of oatmeal to your dog. The nutrition your dog can derive from that oatmeal is greatly impacted by canid physiology. Dogs have a short digestive system with very strong stomach acid, high amounts of protein/fat digesting enzymes, and very low amounts of starch/grain/plant digesting enzymes. Their teeth are pointed and ideal for ripping and the jaw is scissor-hinged - incapable of the side-to-side movement necessary to masticate plants/grains.

That isn't to say that canids don't or can't get 'nutrition' from grains, but that doing so is evolutionary/forced adaptation on their part and therefore should not be assumed to be part of the natural diet. In my opinion, the miniscule amounts of partially digested plant/grain matter shared between an entire pack of animals doesn't 'prove' that grains/plants are a normal part of the canid diet - it just proves canids don't have a human mentality when it comes to eating disgusting things like stomach contents.
posted by stubbehtail at 1:20 PM on October 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Don't do this. Dogs are not humans and we should not subject them to our passion for fad diets. It is cruel to "fast" (i.e. starve) your dog.

Glossiness, vitality and improved health and odour are all attributed to a raw diet- look into the raw diets that travelwithcats pointed out to you. PMR or BARF are more "natural" diets, but you still have to be careful to make sure your dog is getting the right nutrient balance. Read up plenty online and consult your vet.

FYI, People do often supplement flax, cod liver and other oils like coconut either to a raw or a commercial kibble diet for the skin and fur benefits. You don't need to starve your dog to see the benefits there.
posted by mymbleth at 1:23 PM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I feed my dog lots of eggs. I hard boil them a dozen at a time for four minutes or so in a pressure cooker (the pressure cooker makes them easier to peel), and she gets two sliced eggs, yolks just a bit runny, with almost every meal. She is 15 years old and still runs around like a puppy, and her coat is nice and glossy.
posted by Camofrog at 2:32 PM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I fed my dogs a raw diet for a few years and they thrived, allergies cleared up, weight normalized, breath was not doggyish. But it was was time consuming and expensive and the factors in my life colluded against continuing the diet. I read a ton about the various ways to do a raw diet properly, and what you describe is not one of them. Please do more research and please talk to a vet who is raw friendly. Most vets are not (many would like you to buy the food they have in their waiting rooms) so it can be hard to find one depending on where you live.
posted by danabanana at 2:42 PM on October 19, 2014

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