A 16-Day Water Fast with My Dog Sasha


My Dog Sasha had been unusually tired for many months, so I decided to take him to a holistic veterinarian and have some blood work done. He does have fair sever hip dysplasia and the fatigue could simply be due to the pain and discomfort from this chronic condition, but I wanted to be sure it was nothing more serious than this. The first set of blood work did have a few worrisome abnomalities: 1) elevated ALP liver enzymes; 2) elevated eosinophils; 3) moderate levels of acanthocytes. There are a number of reasons that any or all of these could be elevated, some serious, others not so serious.

Acanthocytes are abnormal red blood cells that look like they have little spikes sticking out of them. They are often found in the presence of a type of cancer known as hemangiosarcoma to which German Shepherds are susceptible. Therefore, Sasha’s veterinarian recommended doing an ultra sound of his abdomen to see if there were any growths visible. Fortunately, the ultra sound was clear. All of his organs looked good except for his spleen which was enlarged. Apparently, it is common for German Shepherds to have enlarged spleens, but since hemangiosarcomas frequently begin in the spleen this did not instill confidence. I have fed Sasha a Bones and Raw Food diet (a.k.a. BARF diet a la Dr. Ian Billinghurst) for his entire life, but I have  fed him a lot of commercial grade chicken for economic reasons. I am now trying to feed him better quality meats, with emphasis on beef and lamb.

Sasha’s veterinarian encouraged me to keep a close eye on the acanthocytes because hemangosarcomas can sneak up on you. She recommened doing blood work again in 3 months. However, I decided to take a more proactive approach and do a water-only fast to give Sasha’s body a chance to do some internal house cleaning. I have done many fasts over the past 25 years, and I have experience beneficial results from all of them. One of the best books on the subject is by Dr. Jack Goldstein, a physician who almost died from severe ulcerative colitis. He completely regained his health through a series of very long water-only fasts. His book is now out of print, but it can be down-loaded for free through the Soil and Health Library here: Triumph Over Disease by Fasting and Natural Diet.

Because I love my dog more than anything else in this world, I was not about to eat in front of him while asking him to fast. Therefore, I did the fast with him. My orginal goal was to go for 21 days, but my own waning strength made it necessary for me to end the fast sooner than I would have liked. Sasha did absolutely awesome on the fast and could have easily made it 21 days. He was tired and slept a lot during the first 10 days, but then his energy began to improve. During the last 6 days of the fast, he actually got stronger. On the last day of the fast, I took him in for new blood work and the result were little short of remarkable. The ALP and eosinophils both fell by more than half, and the acanthocytes were completely eliminated. Sasha’s veterinarian said that she has never seen ALP fall that dramatically in any of her canine patients before. Needless to say, she was VERY impressed.

First set of blood work BEFORE the fast:




Second set of blood work AFTER the fast:



Oddly enough, while I was in the process of doing this fast with Sasha, I posted about it on Facebook. Much to my surprise, a number of my so-called “friends” decided that I was committing an egregous act of animal cruelty and called both Animal Control and the Police to complain about it. An Animal Control officer actually came out to check on Sasha, but the minute he saw him, he said, “Clearly, he is fine. Please take your post off Facebook because we are being innundated with calls to both Animal Control and the Police about this.” I told him what I was doing, that it was a therapeutic intervention for a health issue, and that I was working with a local veterinarian. He was an intelligent man and could see that Sasha was being well cared for. Anyways, another interesting experience…LOL… one the one hand, I am glad to know that they take complaints like that seriously, but on the other hand, I am quite taken aback by the fact that some people actually think I would do anything to hurt my dog. Fortunately, the results speak for themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about fasting in the context of a Zero Carb diet, please join us in the Facebook group Principia Lenta.



31 thoughts on “A 16-Day Water Fast with My Dog Sasha

  1. Nice job, Esmée. And thanks for the detailed posting. I wish more parents would treat their kids with the same care that you give Sasha.

    Sent from my iPad 2



  2. It’s a shame that that the Zero Carb group is on Facebook. I would be very interested in joining, but do not use social media and Facebook is for me a complete anathema.
    Reading about your experience only hardens my resolve never to go near it, despite losing out on resources such as the Zero Carb group.

    I am very sorry that you were subjected to abuse on it for your posting of your quite remarkable proactive actions on behalf of your dog.

    I sure wish you would reconsider hosting the group on a different digital venue.


      • I didn’t have any specific venue in mind. I was just thinking of a forum on the web like so many others with a specific subject interest.

        As I understand it, Principia Lente’s origin was such a forum before it moved to Facebook.

        I commented only because of the recent Facebook abuse you suffered.
        I wanted to let you know that if, in the light of that, you wanted to take the group off of Facebook and put it back in a forum, that some people would heartily support you.


    • I completely agree Tante Leonie, a forum system would be good instead of Facebook.

      My problems with Facebook are that it’s actually extremely easy to be hacked through Facebook, and I question the company’s ethics so I choose to not support them.

      While I love the fact that you are out there promoting your message Esmee, people can be very narrow minded and develop a group mentality. People will go looking for your story and the benefits of zero carb – let them come to you.

      I found your site just by searching and have been promoting it through my friends who are interested via email.

      By the by – excellent work with your dog. I cannot fathom a life without my furbabies to love. Well done for being proactive.


  3. Wonderful news about Sasha. Sorry for all the trolls out there. Your innocent post about taking care of Sasha was taken quite out of context. You were lucky that the Animal Control Officer who came to you was understanding and had some wisdom.

    I find FaceBook alarming and have no thoughts whatsoever of joining, even for the zero-carb group. AND I still found you, Esmee! Thank you for your website. It is so rich with resources. I’ve learned so much. I just downloaded the Goldstein book and looking forward to reading it.


  4. Great news about Sasha!! I think it is great that you took such proactive approach to his health. Was sad to see people bashing you on the FB group. I’m stunned that they would actually call the police. Sometimes when a person thinks outside the box, he/she is attacked by ignorant people who cannot see past their own experience.

    Maybe a forum on your blog sort of like Mark’s Daily Apple would be a possibility? That is the only other forum in which I participate. [http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/] I’m not very tech savvy so don’t know how difficult this would be.

    Lastly, thank you for your blog. The information has been immensely helpful and instructive for me.


  5. Hey Esmee! Wow I’m blown away by Sasha’s recovery. Good on you for being able to think outside the box. That was so loving and you will get to have him in your life longer for it. But I was confused about the so-called “friends.” Did you also post what you were doing on your personal timeline or was it strictly calls that happened form PC? That’s so crazy to me. I’m personally sick of FB for personal reasons and have only been hanging around as long as I have lately for the ZC groups I’m a member of. Remember I even tried to create a separate account but FB shut it down, which is very tyranical to me. Anyhoo even if I don’t stick around of FB I will forever remain a loyal visitor to your blog here because I owe you my improving health. I too will be venturing into water fasting soon. Much love to you my dear! 🙂 Don’t let the haters get you down. Still can’t believe they did that.


    • I will never know who reported me to animal control and the police, but there were a number of people in Principia Carnivora and The Meat Up Club who were very upset with me. I did share it on my Timeline as well, but no one openly voiced opposition to me fasting Sasha there. I always enjoy your comments and input and hope you continue to participate in the groups.


  6. Thanks for sharing your story! yours is the only one I could find about dogs fasting longer than a couple days. Could you please detail how you broke his fast?


    • I gave him bone broth first and then raw chuck roast cut up into cubes. He normally eats about 2 lbs of meat and bones per day. I started him with 0.5 lb of meat the first day; 1 lb the second day, 1.5 lb the third day; and 2 lb the fourth day. He did fine. Then I started reintroducing meaty bones like lamb necks, and went back to giving him a lb of meat and a lb of meaty bones.

      Sasha could have easily fasted longer. But while he was getting stronger, I was getting weaker and Inwould not have been able to get him out to go pee. That is the only reason I ended it when I did.

      I know a couple who had a golden retriever with heart worm. They could not afford the standard treatment and they did not like how toxic it was anyway. They fasted him for 30 days and it cured the heart worm.


  7. Hello there

    i have an 8 year old German Shepard also named Sasha (a girl) she was gettign that hip dysplasia thing sicne she was about 5 years old-so I put her on Sodzyme from http://www.lef.org 3 a day, and resveratrol 200 mg a day, and got good results, but recently (about 3 months ago) I put her on hyaluronic acid which is what our jpoints are made of- and BOOM! about another 35% improvement! AND the gray patch that was starting to grow larger under her chin is dissapearing! I kid you not, look up oral hyaluronic acid for sale on the internt then read the peelpe’s reviews There are people who claim it makes their hair grow in thicker and darker! Jus tthought I’d let yo in on the miracle!


      • Yeah i heard bone broth has similar effects to hyaluronic acid in fact might contain some of it but to get gray hair / hip dysplasia reversal you might want to try the pure HA

        as far as resveratrol goes it causes each cell in the body to produce more mitochondria the little organelles that make energy > in fact old rats given resveratrol regained the same endurance as young rats/ so might take care of your sasha “being tired”

        it was also found that some people who complained of various arthtic pains when given sodzyme seeemed to get really good results within 2 weeks / some even got rid of their crutches /canes (you can check all this stuff at http://www.lef.org)/ Sod (super oxide dismutase) is a natural antioxidant our bodies produce that declines with age…can get at http://www.lef.org


  8. Hi Esmee,

    I have been watching your blog for just over a year, am wondering if you can share how you went about reintroducing food (for yourself) after water fasting and what you ate? I’ve only done one (14 day) water fast in the past (prior to learning about zero carb) & broke the fast with fruit that time. I’ve been “trying” to stick to zero carb for some time (have fallen off the wagon for a day or 2 periodically) and would like to water fast again but just wondering what you would personally recommend to break the fast with as a zero carber, etc & how to reintroduce food – e.g: how many days to build up to eating “normally” again as well?

    Thank you!


  9. Hi esmeelafleur, I have a male GS and he is water fasting (day 7 today) because he isn’t well. He has lost a lot of weight so I was wondering if your dog lost weight during his water fast? My dog does drink a lot of water but he throws up a bit during the day. I took him to the vet and they took x-trays he had a mango stone that he pooped. They did secondary scans and he was eating that day so they let him come home but the following day no food, more throwing up and lots of rest.


  10. Hi Esmee, thank you so much for this very informative and lovely site, it has been so helpful in many ways. I know that you can’t give me any advice on the treatment of my dog, but I am so intrigued by the idea of fasting my dog, as I know about the science about fasting for humans. I have spent a lot of money at the vets lately, so he’s all checked up, but still unwell. I just wonder if you had any special concerns before putting Sasha on water only that you haven’t written about above? Was there any particular signs you looked for in Sachs during the fast. So impressed that you managed to water fast for 16 days. I have only managed 5 day, and that was extremely difficult for me. I have joined the fasting group on FB to hopefully get some tips. I really belierve we are made to fast. Lots of love and blessings and keep up your good work/Catharina


    • I’ve read a lot of books on fasting and have done a lot fasting myself over the years, so it doesn’t scare me. Sasha slept a lot more than usual during the fast, but he was still his usual self and was eager to take walks. He loses weight fast and I did not want him to get too thin because I was worried that might have a negative impact on his weak hips and his ability to get up and down. We actually did a second 16 day water fast together about a year after this. Unfortunately, his hips became so bad that I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have him euthanized on April 24, 2017. He was only 10, much too young, but this was due to bad breeding and not something the perfect diet could ever fix. I miss him deeply.


      • Oh, I am soooo sorry to hear that so sad. I am so sorry for your loss 🐾 I have actually the same problem with my other dog, she is 11 years now it’s a real blessing she has made it so long we have to be really careful with her though. I have been doing other types of fasting before and managed very well for longer periods so I was a bit surprised that I found water fasting so extremely difficult. But I will definitely try again. Thank you for your kind response and have a wonderful day 🐕


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