Small Animal Internal Medicine

Research Abstract

NM02 - Metabolic and Immunological Effects of Intermittent Fasting in Healthy Dogs Fed a High Fat Diet

Thursday, June 14
2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
Location: WSCC 307/308

Intermittent fasting (IF) has numerous benefits in some species, including increased insulin sensitivity, and improved neuronal repair following spinal injury from an increase in ketones. The aim of this study was to examine the immunological, metabolic and hormonal effects associated with IF in dogs.


Ten healthy dogs underwent three, 1-week isocaloric feeding regimens in a Latin square design: daily low-fat feeding (20% kcal ME; DLF), IF on a low-fat diet (IFLF), and IF on a high-fat (70% kcal ME) diet (IFHF). Body weight, intake, activity, lymphocyte proliferation, macrophage/neutrophil phagocytosis and respiratory burst, along with fasting blood glucose, beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHOB), leptin, ghrelin, and insulin were measured. NMR spectroscopy was used to identify changes in the fasted plasma metabolome.


Dogs on the IFLF lost weight [mean (±SD) (-1.7 ± 1.5%)] from a lower voluntary food intake. Dogs were more active at night when fed daily than when fed intermittently. Mean fasting BHOB concentrations were highest during the IFHD phase (0.061 ± 0.023mM) and lowest during the DLD phase (0.018 ±0.004mM). Mean fasting plasma glucose was greatest when fed daily, and lowest during the IFHD phase. Intermittent and daily feeding separated on metabolomics analysis. Hormone concentrations did not differ, nor were there biologically significant differences in immune assays between dietary phases.


Unlike humans and rodents, short term fasting in dogs does not produce detrimental immunological effects.  The increase in plasma BHOB with IF on a high fat diet highlights its potential as a beneficial feeding regime for dogs with spinal disease.

Yuet-Ming (Becca) Leung, BSc, BVSc

Veterinary Clinical Nutrition Resident/PhD candidate
School of Veterinary Science - Massey University (New Zealand)

Born in Hong Kong, Becca moved to the USA with her family when she was just 7-months-old. She attended the University of Florida for her undergraduate studies and received a Bachelors in Animal Science and a minor in Business Administrations in 2010. Before leaving to start veterinary school at Massey University in New Zealand, Becca took part in an internship at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Nutrition Centre. There she developed a strong passion for nutrition and research. After receiving her veterinary degree in 2014, Becca embarked on a combined ACVN clinical nutrition residency and PhD in veterinary nutrition at Massey University under the supervision of Dr. Nick Cave BVSc MVSc PhD MANZCVs DipACVN. Becca’s PhD research involves the quantification of body composition changes in long-stay hospitalised canine patients, and the examination of the metabolic and immunological effects of intermittent fasting in dogs.

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