Following a keto diet (or ketogenic diet) is a relatively new approach that many pet owners are following in order to help with a number of health issues, from obesity to diabetes to cancer. This natural, healthy approach to eating has been shown to improve the overall quality of many dogs' lives and as keto levels are easy to monitor, it can be simple to track results, making it not only effective but also easy to follow.
When you consider the fact that cancer in dogs is a leading cause of death, with 6 million dogs diagnosed each year in the U.S., it's not surprising that many pet owners would be concerned about taking steps to fight this awful disease. Professionals, such as those at the KetoPet Sanctuary, have been able to produce extremely positive results by implementing a ketogenic diet for their patients. Though not a cure, KetoPet has reported that 55% of their graduates have gone on to live long, happy lives despite their initial diagnosis.
A keto diet can be helpful for more than just cancer, though. It has been able to reduce seizures in epileptic dogs, allowing anti-seizure medications to be reduced or stopped altogether; it can lower blood glucose levels, helping dogs with diabetes; and most importantly for owners of Australian Shepherds, who frequently suffer from joint issues, it can help to reduce inflammation and ease joint pain.
So what exactly is a ketogenic diet and how can it do so much good? Simply put, it is a diet high in fat, adequate in protein and low in carbohydrates. By increasing fat and reducing non-fibrous carbs, this prompts the body to switch its primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fat. Once fat becomes the primary source of fuel, the liver breaks that fat down into ketone bodies that are subsequently used for energy by body tissues. This results in a healthy metabolic state known as ketosis.
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This is a proven method that has been used in humans since the 1920's, where it has been seen as an effective therapy for patients with many ailments including epilepsy, cancer, and Alzheimer's, among others. Having seen how effective the keto diet was in humans it seemed only natural to assume that it could have the same type of effect on dogs. It makes even more sense when you realize that this is exactly the type of diet that dogs would normally eat in the wild.
Of course, while it is helpful in fighting many types of disease, the ketogenic diet can also be used in disease-free dogs to help maintain good overall health. While there some variants, for the most part the diet includes raw meat that is high in fat, usually beef and chicken, as well as monounsaturated and saturated fat sources including avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil or salted butter and fibrous vegetables such as green beans, red cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus.
As most commercial dog foods are high in carbs, it can be difficult to use them in establishing a true keto diet. Even products marketed as "organic" or "healthy" can still have too many carbs. Relying solely on raw meats and fibrous vegetables with additional fat sources as necessary is the only way to ensure that your dog enters into ketosis.
If you're concerned about maintaining your dog's health or if he has a specific condition that requires special treatment, such as cancer, choosing a keto diet may be your best natural option. Talk to your vet today about the possibility and help your dog to feel better naturally.