As long as your dog is not a Labrador, there is much to learn from your dog's eating habits!
After spending a day in the woods with my beautiful Alsatian (Elsie, pictured guarding KetoCaNa), she inspired me to reflect on how the dog diet is actually incredibly keto.
We know that they love to eat meat: animal fat, bones and cartilage. They often chew on grass and occasionally eat dirt…and they absolutely never touch fruit or sugar (unless they have been corrupted by humans, Labradors aside).
Dogs will go for animal fat and protein over sugar every time and they are never low on energy! These animals know exactly what they need to survive. If this high fat diet can fuel their hyper activity, then surely it can fuel us too!
Animals eat instinctively, humans eat emotionally
The natural dog diet consists of Animal Fats & Proteins, Bones & Cartilage, Green Grass & Earth.
Dogs and other carnivorous animals derive their energy source from animal fats (which will then be converted into ketones in the liver). They adore crunching through bones and cartilage and this is how they consume collagen. Collagen is a long-chain amino acid and the most abundant protein in the body. It is composed of the individual amino acids Glycine, Proline, Hydroxyproline and Arginine and in nature is found exclusively in animal tissue, especially bones and connective tissue.
Dogs instinctively know that they need collagen. Collagen is what is responsible for giving skin elasticity, hair its strength, and connective tissue its ability to hold everything in place. We can get our collagen from bone broth, stew and curries that have been cooked with meat on the bone.
Grass is very much the dog substitute for our leafy greens, essential for healthy gut bacteria! A study on wild chimps that suggests that carnivorous animals ingest plant material to increase intestinal motility and help rid them of intestinal parasites*. Most of our pet dogs are controlled for parasites, but instincts may still drive their behavior.
Why do dogs eat dirt?
A common explanation for why animals and people eat dirt is that soil contains minerals, such as calcium, sodium and iron, which support energy production and other vital biological processes…Dogs, elephants, gorillas and bats eat sodium-rich clays when they do not get enough sodium in their diet.
When we are on the Ketogenic diet we also have deficiencies, such as magnesium, sodium and potassium…and that is why we need to supplement with sodium, magnesium and potassium or eat electrolyte dense foods, such as salt, avocados and basil.
What's in dog food?
Processed dog food is a disaster, just like processed human foods as they only lead to obesity, poor health and increases in the early onset of diseases. Only humans put grains and carbohydrates in dog food and for one reason only: it’s cheap and filling! Cares about nutrition go absolutely out the window!
Dogs know exactly what they need to eat to fuel their bodies and are happy to eat just once a day. So they literally practice intermittent fasting on a regular basis. Perhaps this is how we should think about our food. What do we actually need to eat and how often do we really need to eat? Perhaps we could allow ourselves to eat more instinctively and less emotionally?
The Ketogenic Diet and Animals: NB No animals were harmed during this photography session. KetoCaNa was not tested on animals, is dog cruelty free and approved by Elsie the Alsatian!
References: *Self-induced increase of gut motility and the control of parasitic infections in wild chimpanzees Huffman MA, Canton J.. Int J Primatol 2001;22:329–346.