The number of times we feed our dogs it is important. Much depends on the dog’s age and physical activity. Broadly speaking, however, a new study suggests the key may lie in feed them once a day.
The study in question was published in GeroSciencefrom the hand of scientists from several universities in the United States and with data taken from the dog aging project. It concludes that dogs that eat only once a day seem to have better scores in cognitive tests and less likely to develop gastrointestinal problems. As for other diseases, such as cancer and vascular, neurological and skin disorders, there were no significant differences.
This is the largest study carried out to date, with the intervention of over 10,000 dogs. But it must be recognized that it has certain boundaries. On the one hand, the data was reported the owners themselves, so they could have collection or interpretation errors. On the other hand, it was not taken into account if, for example, there was calorie restriction. Also, not all veterinarians agree with his findings. That’s why, before you run to get your dog’s bowl out, you should read this.
Dog food is complex
In fact, fasting has been widely studied in recent years, both as a method of weight loss and for health reasons. We have seen that if the body is deprived of food for several hours alternative metabolic pathways are activated it can bring benefits if done in a controlled way. This has been proven in humans and rodents. However, something like this had never been seen in dogs until this study came up. And in reality it was not seen because many veterinarians observe the opposite effect in their clinics.
“It depends a lot on each animal and you have to see the case several times individually to establish guidelines”, he underlines to hypertextual Lucy, veterinarian at the Tomelloso Veterinary Clinic. “It is not the same sheepdog who works in the field with the cattle and needs a lot of nutrients, which the yorkshire that he spends the whole day lying on the sofa, for example”. In addition, the vet explains that it also depends on other factors, such as whether the dogs have diseases.
Another important parameter is age. “In puppies I generally recommend giving 3 to 4 doses per day, with a small amount”, explains the veterinarian. “Their stomachs are still very immature and they need to get used to the food to avoid gastrointestinal problems, in particular.”
Once adults, they no longer need to eat as many times a day. However, she recommends that they be at least two. “I have seen many cases of dogs arriving at the emergency room with hypoglycemia for this case,” recalls Lucía. “At the clinic I see dogs arriving very hungry and when fed after 24 hours they don’t chew but gobble the food. This then gives rise to vomiting, diarrhea and even in the most severe cases and large breeds, it usually occurs stomach twist”.
It is an acute distension of the stomach, in which said organ can twist on itself. When this is generated, the stomach can generate pressure on the blood vessels, impairing the normal blood supply. This can cause damage to other organs and, if not corrected in time, the death of the dog. The risk factors are many, ranging from very sudden movements to the accumulation of gas due to the fermentation of certain foods. Moreover, according to Lucía, this can happen precisely because the dogs are only fed once a day.
“I have seen many cases of dogs that have not eaten for 24 hours and have been practice“, exemplified. “They go home tired and hungry and suddenly they put all the food on them and, by eating so quickly and without chewing the food well, they suffer from torsion of the stomach”.
For this reason, the vet maintains that she will continue to recommend at least two doses per day until she sees different cases in the clinical practice. And the truth is that this is also the recommendation of the authors of the study that has just been published. Yes, they have found benefits from feeding dogs every 24 hours, but so far their results are very preliminary. They hope to confirm these with further studies in the future. If so, perhaps the protocols could be changed. In the meantime, if you have a dog, listen to your veterinarian. Nothing like experience to know when it is best to feed them.