Over the years, ketogenic diets (AKA keto diets) have become more and more popular in humans, not just for weight loss, but to treat and potentially reduce the risk of a variety of different diseases. Did you know dogs can be put on keto diets for the same reasons, too?
Keto dieting has hit the mainstream markets, with increased research around what it is and what it does. But it's no fad. Actually, ketogenic diets for humans have been around since ancient Greek times! Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Ketogenic diet treatment plan also popped up in the 1920s and 30s as an anti-seizure treatment, with a come-back in the 90s.
But What is a Keto Diet and How Does it Work?
Keto is a moderate protein diet that is very low in carbohydrates (healthy veggies, not grains) and high in quality fats, which makes the body burn fat for fuel rather than carbs. Certain processes in your pet's body convert carbs to sugars (glucose or glycogen) which are a low quality source of energy compared to healthy fats. Think coal vs. natural gas.
In order to produce energy, the body’s cells use one fuel source or the other based on what is available, and if your pup’s diet is mostly made up of carbs (which is dominant in most kibble, like corn, rice and wheat), the body will convert those carbs to sugars for fuel. Carbs (sugars) as fuel creates all sorts of body system dysfunctions over time. As your pet ages, these dysfunctions show up as disease, chronic inflammation and worse.
If your pup’s diet provides more fat than carbs, his body will convert those fats into ketones, a fatty acid that produces a cleaner, more efficient form of energy.
The Scientific Scoop on Keto for Fido
As is always the case, we at Homescape Pets value scientific research over anecdotal evidence, especially when it comes to the health and wellbeing of your pets. In this case, the keto diet is supported by both. Luckily, because of its mainstream popularity, the research around ketogenic dieting has expanded over recent decades to provide us with the details on what it treats. Forget the old food pyramid. Fats are king for health and energy of both you and your furry best friend. The research speaks for itself.
For starters, keto diets have been found to help with drug-resistant epilepsy in dogs, and are now being studied for its effect on other diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. A discovery made by Otto Warburg purported that most cancer cells can’t use fat for energy, rather they increase the uptake of glucose due to alteration in the cell's function. And since another study has found that cancer is a metabolic disease that can only derive energy from glucose (sugar) or glutamine, that means a keto diet may show a significant slow-down in tumor growth by starving the cancer of it's energy source.
Recently, we’ve spent long hours doing deep-dives into the case studies over at KetoPet Sanctuary, an amazing resource for parents of dogs with cancer or other illnesses that can benefit from a keto diet. You will find guidance on creating your own keto menu and lots of other helpful insights.
Other Benefits of a Keto Diet for Dogs
One study published in 2015 has found that of the 21 epileptic dogs that were put on a keto diet, 7 demonstrated a 50% reduction in the frequency of their seizures, and 3 of them even achieved freedom from seizures completely!
But even for young, healthy dogs, a keto diet will set them up for a long and healthy life. It will be beneficial for the following reasons:
- Improvements to liver health
- Increased energy
- Balanced blood sugar
- Lower risk of other chronic diseases
- Healthier and balanced appetite
- Improved immune response
There are evidence based arguments that keto diets are more in alignment with your dog’s natural desires and nutritional needs, as the diets of wild and predatory animals consist of only 3-5% carbohydrates. Almost all domestic dog breeds are a descendant of the grey wolf, an apex predator. If you’re ready to give it a go with your pup, you must do your own research.
Many vets still rely heavily on kibble to fulfill your pet's dietary needs. Veterinary medicine is a critical piece of pet care, but there is far less emphasis on dietary science and nutrition in veterinary programs than in pharmaceutical solutions. In this case, you must be your pet's health advocate. By all means, consult your vet but do your own homework first. You will feel more confident about your consultation with your vet if you are better informed.
What do we serve our pets at Homescape? For the Homescape fur babies (Quinn and Minnie May), we provide a mix of raw meat protein of various kinds, some high quality kibble and small portions of fresh veggies and herbs. This balance is what serves their health and our lifestyle the best. There are many ways to create something affordable, delicious and healthy. It will also be yet another way to bond with your pupper!
Once you've determined keto may benefit your pet's health, you should check out The Bones & Co. Pet Foods, which offers deliciously raw and ketogenic foods and treats! If you'd like to know more about The Bones & Co keto meals, reach out to the company directly or to Rachel Fusaro. She's an incredible source of information through her Instagram page and her YouTube vlogs.
But guess who has healthy option for treats and chews? That’s right, your friends at Homescape Pets! We’re passionate about our all-natural supplements, but we wanted to expand our horizons and provide different delicious ways to treat your pets’ tastebuds and their health.
Homescape Pets Simply Natural Chews, air-dried, all meat, and from raw, fresh sources… which means, they’re keto-friendly! Check out all the options here! We’re so excited to offer nutrient-rich and all-natural chews to make your pets happy and keep them healthy.
Could it get better? Yes it could! Simply add a few drops of Companion's Best Day directly on your selected treat or chew. Our treat are a great way to deliver our high quality CBD! Their eyes will light up and you are likely to see a transformation!