Before processed pet foods became commercially available, most domestic pets were fed a more basic and down to earth home-made diet. Feeding was essentially based on the concept of natural rearing. This involved feeding raw meats, cereals, vegetables and adding herbal supplements. Part of the natural rearing regime involved fasting, which was carried out on a regular basis. Fasting was considered good for general health and could even help recovery during illness by enhancing the immune system.
Buster Lloyd-Jones, the founder of Denes, was a great advocate of both natural rearing and fasting, using these methods to help many of the animals he treated during his lifetime. He realised that fasting had a number of positive benefits, which could be used to great advantage alongside his diets, supplements and herbal remedies.
The idea of fasting may seem quite strange to most of us, but simply mimics the behaviour of animals living in the wild. Food would not always be available and even the best hunters would not be able to find or catch food every single day. In fact, it would be quite normal to go for one or two days each week without eating. Similarly, sick animals would probably be unable to catch food or would simply not feel like eating. This enforced break would allow the digestive system to have a rest, during which time the body could concentrate on healing and repair.
Fasting essentially allows the body to unload accumulated waste products, such as toxins that have been stored in the liver and the fat reserves over a period of time. In addition, fasting also provides an opportunity for tissues to repair and regenerate, enhancing both health and digestion. The overall effect is to help restore the natural balance of the body. This will also go some way in preventing chronic health problems, such as skin, joint and heart conditions and can result in a fitter, brighter and more alert animal. Fasting also helps prevent obesity, as fat reserves are burnt up during fast days. It can also be included as part of the overall treatment for some chronic conditions, such as skin problems, and can also help with breaking a fever.
If you plan to fast your cat or dog on a regular basis, then ideally you should try to do this at least once every month. Otherwise, try fasting whenever you feel that your cat or dog needs a boost or if they have a condition that would benefit from a period of fasting.
Most cats and dogs can be fasted. The actual fasting process is not so difficult to implement and involves three basic stages. It is not a good idea to fast very elderly animals, young growing puppies and kittens and pregnant bitches or queens. Animals with liver and kidney problems should not be fasted without veterinary guidance.