Tuesday, October 25, 2022

One Cool Trick to Healthier Dogs

While there is no scientific evidence that one brand or type of dog food is better than another, there is a LOT of evidence that serious dog illness can be reduced, and that dog lives can be extended, by proper feeding.

And this is NOT new information, nor it is closely held information.

And this ONE SIMPLE TRICK is not just true for dogs; it’s also true for humans, rats, mice, fish, monkeys, and even worms.

This ONE SIMPLE TRICK has extended the lifespan and reduced illness in EVERY ANIMAL STUDIED.

And it’s held true no matter WHAT they ate or WHERE they lived.

Are you ready for this ONE SIMPLE TRICK?

Here it is EAT LESS. 

Calorie restriction ALONE extends lifespan of a population 10 to 50 percent, depending on the animal and the amount of restriction.


More than 80 years ago, McCay, Crowell, and Maynard wrote a paper entitled “The Effect of Retarded Growth upon the Length of Life Span and upon the Ultimate Body Size”.  

The data presented showed that restricting calories without malnutrition  (i.e. not absolutely starving, and keeping up vitamins and micronutrients) significantly prolonged the lifespan of rats.

In subsequent years, experiments with EVERY OTHER ANIMAL studied have shown the same results.


So what’s the data for dogs show?

Just this:  Dogs from the same litter, when fed 75% of what their siblings were given, lived 1.8 years longer.  Labrador Retrievers who ate their fill every day had a medium lifespan of 11.2 years, while the median life span of dogs on the restricted diet was 13 years — over 16 percent longer.

But that’s not all.  

The dogs who ate fewer calories also had fewer expensive illnesses.  

At age five, over half the dogs eating a full  diet had osteoarthritis in their hips compared to 13 percent of the dogs on a calorie-restricted diet. 

At age eight, 77 percent of the dogs fed a full diet had osteoarthritis, while only 10% of the diet-restricted dogs did. 

What about cancer?  Cancer showed up in all the dogs at the same rate, but showed up two years LATER in the calorie-restricted dogs.  

That’s a LOT.

To be clear, NO OTHER FOOD INTERVENTION has been shown to so dramatically increase a dog’s lifespan.

What’s that mean in terms of dog food, no matter what or how you feed?


So what are the caveats?

Just this:  

▪️No matter what you feed, your dog will eventually die of something. A lot of the gains in cohort mortality are due to eliminating mortality due to obesity, not absolutely extending the life of the healthiest animals.

▪️Size matters. No matter what you feed, big dogs (as a group) tend to die sooner than smaller dogs (as a group).

▪️Right feed cannot fix wrong breed. While a calorie-restricted diet will probably help extend the life of your dog and reduce veterinary costs, it is NOT an antidote for genetic defect (often due to inbreeding within a closed registry) or morphological deformity (brachycephalia, freakishly long or sloped backs, etc.).

▪️Real world mortality gains in dogs may be less than what we see in the laboratory where the base line is often a "free feed" situation that encourages obesity.  In addition, once-a-day feeding appears to extend life the most perhaps by providing a longer period of "fasting" between meals.  


lucypup2009@gmail.com said...

I have a theory regarding Labs. Water dogs that did not efficiently use calories, didn't adapt well to the work and were less successful and less likely to be bred. If a lab even looks at a few calories, it gains a pound. Great survival strategy when they were working in very cold water and given scrabbly food, right up there with webbed feet. I've been working with someone who's training a young retriever, black lab. Boy did he get fat quickly, even with a lot of activity. Measuring out his daily food allotment, and then giving it out only for working and training worked a treat. No free feeding for labs, that's crazy. I shared the dogs' weight info from your blog, too, with full credit. His vet has remarked that's he's his only lean lab patient now.

Greg Mu said...

The only verifiable reason once-a-day feeding *appears* to extend life more is simply a function of reduced caloric intake.

The fascination with fasting as a mechanism for health-promotion is based on conjecture; there is no solid evidence that fasting provides additional benefit beyond caloric restriction.