The ketogenic diet has gained popularity in recent years, albeit it isn’t necessarily the newest. That is, for people. But the keto diet for dogs is also gaining popularity. And perhaps it’s not just a passing craze. Research has found it’s actually incredibly beneficial.
The Basics of Keto Diet for Humans
High fat, moderate protein, and very little carbohydrate make up a ketogenic diet. Because cells produce and store energy differently in carbohydrates than in fats, it results in weight reduction.
In a typical state, cells turn carbohydrates into glucose, which is then either immediately used for energy or stored as glycogen in the liver. However, if you cut out most carbohydrates from your diet, your body will quickly exhaust its supply of glycogen and run out of fuel. It is therefore said that the body enters a state of ketosis, in which it essentially runs on ketones from fat rather than glucose from carbs.
The keto diet is effective as a long-term weight-loss plan because it induces ketosis, which has been found to reduce insulin levels, enhance fat burning, and suppress appetite. Contrary to what a fasting diet would do, the high protein diet retains muscle.
Keto diets are not brand-new. With some success, they were employed to treat epilepsy in patients back in the 1920s and 1930s, but when stronger anti-epileptic medications became available, the diets lost favor. They are now more interested in delaying cancer, dementia, and especially intractable epilepsy than ever before. Because of their altered metabolism, cancer cells are unable to utilize fat as fuel. Their development and reproduction slow down if they are unable to obtain glutamine from protein or glucose from carbohydrates. According to several research studies, mice on ketogenic diets grow tumors considerably slower.
Keto Diet for Dogs
Although keto diets for dogs are becoming more popular, conventional veterinarians warn that there is now little evidence to support their practice. The enthusiasm is mostly supported by anecdotal data. However, holistic veterinarians, along with integrative veterinarians highly recommend the keto diet for dogs sparking quite a debate in the dog world.
KetoPet, a nonprofit group established in 2014 to assist shelter dogs with cancer who would otherwise be put to death, is one of the main proponents. The dogs received advanced cancer treatment and were put on a ketogenic diet. The dog’s blood was checked to make sure it was ketotic, and PET scans were used to calculate the size of the tumor (they still utilize this process). While the ketogenic diet did not provide a cure, more than half of the dogs on it lived months longer than they should have. Even though they had been given the diagnosis of having highly aggressive cancers, several of them were cancer-free.
Going keto may have other advantages. In a recent study, 21 epileptic canines were put on a ketogenic diet; seven of them experienced a 50% decrease in seizure frequency, and three even experienced seizure cessation. Keto supporters argue that the diet may help dogs with diabetes by reducing inflammation, enhancing liver health, and generally boosting health.
Transitioning Your Dog to the Keto Diet
Your dog would be consuming something very similar to a keto diet if he were to roam the wild and forage for food. In reality, he’d definitely be starving, but let’s assume he was a skilled hunter and didn’t have to rely on fast food parking lots and dumpsters for meals. A typical prey animal has a carbohydrate to protein to fat ratio that is similar to a ketogenic diet. Not quite, but close. And because the majority of us aren’t really interested in putting a dead rabbit in a dish, we turn to prepared or store-bought keto meals.
On a dry-matter basis, a canine keto diet should consist of 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbs (that means after all the moisture is taken out). Fresh muscle meat, fatty fish, and organ meat would be the foundation of a keto food pyramid. Next would be eggs, cheese, and oils, then vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli, and carrots, with a few nuts and berries on top (similar to the BARF diet for dogs).
Be aware that your dog may experience fatigue for several days as the body becomes used to using fat instead of carbohydrates (in humans, this is called keto flu). He may also experience diarrhea or constipation, and the added fat may raise his risk of developing pancreatitis.
In addition to commercial keto dog foods, a fast internet search will turn up weeks’ worth of diverse keto dog recipes. However, it’s important to use educational, insightful sources when transitioning your dog to any diet. Additional research on the keto diet for dogs will be beneficial in their transition and continued nutritional needs.
Several months following the complete transition, you can conduct a Parsley Pet test to ensure your dog is receiving all necessary nutrients, Or, if you would like to compare their old diet to the keto diet, conducting a Parsley Pet test before transitioning and comparing it their updated test on keto is recommended.