Healthy Pets: The Bulletproof Dachshund

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Pets are important for stress management, plus they’re fun. I’m partial to dachshunds for two reasons. First, because they are small, you can afford to feed them a Bulletproof Diet. Second, they are hunting dogs who don’t know they’re not Rottweilers. And they never yap.

From the day we got him, my dachshund Merlin has been on a raw meat and bones diet, with organ meats, ground vegetables, and some vitamins thrown in. He thrives even though his genetics aren’t that great, which gave him an unstable shoulder.

When, at 5 years of age, we had him castrated (or dog, not Richard!), Merlin weighed 12  lbs. He weighed 12 lbs whether we gave him 16 ounces of raw meat per day, or 6 ounces. He usually got 6 ounces of raw meat, plus assorted bones. No cooked food, no people food. Probiotics too.

But within 6 months of castration, he shot up to 16 lbs on the same diet, even with only 6 ounces of meat a day. Hormones matter…

Our vet said that if we could get him to lose 2 lbs, we should congratulate ourselves, and that it would take months and was unlikely given that Merlin’s shoulder prevents long walks. She suggested 2 walks a day and extreme food reduction in order to lose 2lbs in about 4-5 months.

Instead, we followed Bulletproof Diet principles:

  • Cut the vegetables back
  • Shrunk the protein
  • Added butter and Brain Octane
  • Increased fat intake to 50-60%. Previously it was about 40%.
  • Calories are actually higher now than they were before.
  • He gets a short walk every other day, only 25% of the exercise the vet recommended. (he has a joint problem that makes long walks hard)

The results? He’s lost the 2 lbs (12.5% of his total weight) in one month, and two months later he’s a healthy weight, and has more energy!  The vet commented that he had added muscle and asked if he’d been on a treadmill or other training regimen.

The only thing that hasn’t really worked is Bulletproof Coffee. He just doesn’t like it. 🙂  (WARNING: Caffeine is really bad for dogs.)

Let us know how you Bulletproof your pets in the comments.

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By Dave Asprey

  • It’s amazing how well dogs respond to a raw and “bulletproof” style diet. Plus they love to eat it.

    Occasionally when we travel with our dog we have to feed her kibble. Even if we slowly work it into her diet, her energy levels drop, she has runny stools (and 3 times as much), and gains weight quick.

    I never thought about the MCT with her, I think she’s going to like that.

    • Dave Asprey

      I bet she will! Most dogs have a massive increase in energy when they start eating more healthy fats. Thanks for commenting Doug 🙂

    • Hilary Salmon

      Im not sure where you are, but in New Zealand we have two dried beef, lamb, venison or fish pet foods… Ziwi peak and K9 naturals… i use those when i go camping, K9 naturals adds vegetable … no grains no preservatives no additives. My border collie loves being bulletproof… and believes BP coffee should be woken up at dawn for.. { i up end the blender over her bowl and she gets about two teaspoons after ive had my BP coffee} She doesnt usually beg… but for BP coffee or a bit of coconut oil she would do all her repertoire of tricks and makes up new ones for me to name.

  • Steve

    I have two Dachshunds and one of them was overweight a few years ago, I completely ignored my vet who told me to use Beneful Healthy weight and switched to raw food, veggies, and coconut oil. She went from 18 to 14 pounds and has four times the energy that she used to!

    • Dave Asprey

      Interestingly, another of my dachshunds with a genetic problem with his spinal discs, ended up paralyzed from mid-back down with 3 ruptured discs. We kept him on the raw Bulletproof diet, did acupuncture and physical therapy, and he fully recovered in a few months. Far cheaper (and better) than the $10k surgery traditional vets recommended. The diet didn’t prevent the genetic problems (probably caused by generations of poorly fed dachshunds before him) but it did help healing.

      • Alethea Black

        Dave Asprey, I believe some dogs — dachshunds among them — have a genetic defect in heme synthesis called pyroluria that creates deficiencies in zinc + B6, as well as overall mineral imbalance. You may have heard D Klinghardt speak of this disorder as the missing link that can keep people from recovering from chronic Lyme or mold sickness. I think it exists in animals, too. Signs and symptoms include sensitivity to bright light/sounds, as well as social anxiety. A holistic vet should be able to help you calculate appropriate doses of zinc + B6. This condition is as unrecognized in dogs as it is in humans, and the potential health benefits are just as great.

  • justfred

    “He gets a short walk every other day, only 25% of the exercise the vet recommended.”

    Seems like more walks would be a good idea – not only for his physical health, but for his mental health.

    • Dave Asprey

      He would get more if not for a knee problem he was born with…

  • Every morning after I blend my bulletproof coffee with my little hand blender, I noticed my dog started hovering while I worked and started licking the floor when I was done. This morning I used a deeper glass jar, and she hovered, then sniffed around and couldn’t find any leavings. She came over to me and started begging. I’m considering giving her a little each morning to see how it affects her. She’s not on a whole food diet otherwise, but has severe allergies so we have to be very careful with what food she eats.

    • Dave Asprey

      Go for it! Small doses of cafestrol can inhibit some free radicals. Haven’t looked at dog liver caffeine breakdown – I know chocolate is bad for dogs, but haven’t read anything about coffee.

  • I am a veterinarian who eats a bulletproof diet. I think it is just as silly to feed dogs a grain-based diet as it is to feed one to humans. I am sure that a great number of chronic diseases in dogs could be avoided/cured with a bulletproof style diet. I have been considering signing up for a nutrition Ph.D or something to try to do some studies, but I doubt many companies would want to fund them.

    Congratulations on your little dachshund’s recovery. There are quite a few patients who don’t recover without emergency surgery. I would say that disc issues are a problem in these guys not just from generations of poor nutrition but also of poor breeding. Cute as they are, dachshunds are not really a natural dog body shape and I am sure this is a component in their high risk for disc disease.

    • Dave Asprey

      Great points Simon. I bet, just like humans, that a lot of the “natural” problems are at least increased by poor nutrition.

      • Sharon Talley

        Hi Dave,
        My name is Sharon Talley. I am a vet and have been in practice for over 25 years. Naturally, I was very intrigued by this post. I see a massive benefit in my own life from the Bulletproof diet and supplements. I treat performance working dogs and horses who would also reap serious rewards from a Bulletproof specific animal diet and supplements. Is this something you’ve ever considered? There’s definitely a large market and appetite for performance animal products. I’d love to speak with you over the phone or Skype when you have a moment. Please let me know the best way to contact you.

        Sharon Talley DVM
        Bulletproof BeBe (black lab pictured below)

  • Tim Fortier

    I too have a dachshund…I could never imagine without having one. My first doxie was probably genetically disposed and developed a cancer in his duodenum. The process of treating him and studying cancers in dogs taught me a lot about the importance of diet in dogs as well. Grains clearly are bad and were never really intended to be fed to dogs..despite the wide spread occurrence in most dog foods. In fact, grains I learned can actually “feed” the growth of the cancer. Although Tucker eventually succumbed to the cancer at the young age of 3…I learned a lot from that heart wrenching experience.
    My new doxie has never know anything but grain-free food made with the best available ingredients. Yes it cost a little more…but my new friend (picture provided) has alway had a beautiful coat and no medical issues. While I am sure genetics play their part…I never want to take the chance of lessening the odds of my pet have a high-quality life.

    • Dave Asprey

      thanks for posting Tim. I couldn’t’ agree more.

  • Rob

    Dave, have you check out the “Prey Model” diet? I switched my Austrailan Shepard to this diet (raw chicken: bones, liver, hearts) 6 months ago. loving it perfect weight, beautiful coat, lots of energy

    • Dave Asprey

      Rob, that makes so much sense. I always thought dogs shouldn’t really eat carrots from an evolutionary perspective. Merlin is pretty close to Prey model, but he does get added butter and MCT to keep him from getting fat. ?

  • Sue Young

    I had a miniature dachshund growing up, they’re great dogs with amazing personalities. Now my brother has a cockapoo. She has had problems with bladder stones and is on a special high fat (prescription but not bulletproof) diet. She was a little pudgy before but she has lost weight on the high fat diet and the bladder stones seem to be gone. Of course the most important diet change was that my sister in law stopped giving the dog potato chips.

  • We have an 8 yr old Maltese-Poodle who has suffered terribly from seasonal allergies to the point where she would lick herself bald. We tried every form of allergy relief our vet recommended (and he was a great vet), but nothing worked. And, of course we were feeding her industrial dog food – dry and canned.

    Then we switch her to raw pasteurized chicken with bones and heart (no fillers, veggies or grains – nothing but chicken) from Country Pet Naturals, which is a New Zealand company.

    What a difference! Allergies are 90% under control and getting better. No runny poops. And she loves eating this stuff – we use to have to almost beg her to eat, sometimes to the point of putting the food in her mouth one spoonful at a time. Poor dog, she was telling us this stuff was crap and it made her sick. It makes me sick thinking how we were torturing this poor dog.

    She’s always been a good walker but would poop out at about a quarter to a third of a mile. Now we go on one mile plus walks twice a day and she can’t wait to go and is walking just as fast when we get back as when we started.

    Anyway, I think I will add some MCT to her diet – she has pretty hard stool now and I think it’s the low amount of fat in her diet now.

    What about raw egg? or just egg yolk?

  • Jenn Blakes

    I really loved reading this because I feel that my family dog could really benefit from a Bulletproof diet. I am looking after him in September for 2 weeks while my parents are away and I really want to show them how they’re neglecting his health by a) giving him grain based dog food, and b) ridiculous dog treats 24/7. What can I do in those 2 weeks that would really show a dramatic difference in his health so that I can prove to my parents that they need to look after him more? This may be a lot to ask for but I think any little idea could help.

  • paige

    Dave, How do you suggest I figure out HOW MUCH protein and fats to give my cat for the bulletproof pet diet? She desperately needs to lose about 4-5 lbs! THANKS!

  • I had a shepherd mutt + australian cattle dog mix. We fed him “premium” kibble for 8 years. My first child was born when he was 3 1/2. He started having seizures then. He never made friends with a new person after those seizures. He never liked my children. He was on Phenobarbital for the seizures until I started to become more organic in my own life. I found, which sells fortified rolled oats to be mixed in with raw meat. When I switched him at 8 years old, his breath improved and he seemed to get better. I took him off the medication. He had some seizures rarely – sometimes during a thunderstorm. I did have to take him to have some teeth extracted from the kibble diet, but his teeth were fine after switching to the raw diet. When he was 13, he came down with pancreatitis. We treated him with antibiotics. The vet wanted to put him on a special diet that he sold. By that time I was a WAPF member. I got advice from my meat farmer who is a retired vet. He told me to feed the dog bone broth during recovery and only meat afterwards. He lived another 1.5 years. The last rabies shot seemed to affect his immune system. He got fleas for the first time in his life and nothing I did got rid of them. I put him down at age 15.

    We now have a German Shepherd. I tried to avoid genetic problems by getting the puppy from a breeder. I feed her all raw meat and bones. She gets some table scraps but I’m careful to avoid giving her grain foods (the rest of my family won’t give up bread ). Just last week I bought some chicken feet from the ethnic market. I used them as treats.

  • carmen

    I have a paleo pack myself: They eat meat and I have three doxies and a basset…all rescues (I hope you support and promote rescuing not breeding). My doxie with weight issues was 23 pds when he came to me and is now a healthy 12 pds. All are seniors: 15, 13, 9 and 9. I just switched my cat to a grain free diet (he’s diabetic and the vet put him on Diabetes mgmt 🙁 ) and he no longer needs his prednisone for his stomatitis mouth issue. Grains are poison to people AND pets.

  • Alex

    Hi Dave, I know this thread is quite old, but I heard you mention Bulletproofing your dog’s diet on your podcast, that I have started following recently. I live in Berlin and I have a 9 year old Jack Russel/Corgi mix female that had to be sterilised very early on in life because she was getting phantom pregnancies and reacting very aggressively. Since then, Coco just seems to slowly get fatter and fatter. She’s pretty heavy, and lately she’s begun wheezing a bit when she lies curled up, a bit like when youve got a few extra pounds on and strain to reach your feet. Is there any comprehensive guide you can point me to or someone I could get in touch with to start her on this? We’ve become really strict about maintaining the vet’s food ration, but it just seems like she’s unsatisfied all the time……

  • Ryan

    Haha, great post Dave, your dog eats better than most of the world. I’ve always been concerned about the well-being of dogs that are eating Puppy Chow. Did you notice if Merlin was better behaved or more intelligent compared to other dogs?

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  • Jen

    This is an old thread but I am so interested in adding fat to my cats diet, would love more resources. x

  • Justin Hanson

    Dave, the bulletproof diet cured my acne…thank you so much! I switched my cat over to higher quality meats and started adding mct oil and other fats to her meals. It cured her acne too…plus her fur is so soft and healthy, and she has so much more energy now (yes cats get acne and other skin problems…who knew!). Thanks so much!