Superfoods, which are foods packed with nutrients, aren’t just for humans. Humans and dogs can share several common foods that are nutritionally dense and pack a lot of healthful benefits into a serving. These super foods can help you and your pet fight disease, boost energy and maintain good health in general. They make great additions to your diet – and your dog’s diet too!
Whether you’ve got a new pup, a dog prone to allergies or a senior in its golden years, these fresh, dog-friendly superfoods will keep your best friend healthy on the inside and out. Plus, for once you can steal your dog’s food instead of it being the other way around!
Blueberries are available all year, and whether fresh or frozen, are great training treats for your canine companion. They are loaded with phytochemicals, and their deep blue hue is the result of powerful antioxidants called anthocyanidins. Blueberries are also a good source of healthy fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E.
Oily fishes such as sardines and anchovies are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent skin problems and allergies, helps prevent arthritis and heart disease, and have been shown to improve behavior and intelligence (especially in puppies).
Goji berries are typically sold dried and resemble red raisins. You may want to soak in water to soften, otherwise they may pass through your dog’s digestive system. Theses berries are rich in amino acids and antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Goji extracts may help prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, and lower cholesterol levels.
Broccoli supports detoxification processes in your dog’s body (and yours). It contains healthy fiber to aid digestion; is rich in beneficial nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and vitamin C; has anti-inflammatory properties; supports eye health; helps repair skin damage; and supports heart health. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli contain goitrogenic compounds and may need to be cooked before feeding. Dr. Jean Dodds, a leading veterinarian, does not recommend feeding broccoli to any animal with a thyroid disease.
These seeds have several of the same benefits as the more well-known ‘super seed’ flax, but unlike flax seed, you don’t need to grind them to reap the health benefits. The nutritional benefits of chia include fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, antioxidants, and even protein. Highly absorbent, they can also help hydrate the body. You simply sprinkle some daily on their food!
Low in calories and high in soluble fiber, pumpkin helps maintain a healthy digestive tract.Pumpkin is another great antioxidant, but it also helps with diarrhea and constipation. It is low in sodium and exceptionally high in carotenoids, potassium and vitamin C, and has some calcium and B vitamins. Canned organic pureed pumpkin can be found at food stores but be sure that it is pure, BPA free and not a pie filling, which typically have sugar and/or spices added. Winter squash and cooked sweet potatoes are recommended as well.
Raw eggs are another one of nature’s most wholesome foods for dogs. Eggs are not only economical, but they’re one of the most complete and nutritious foods available.Eggs are a nearly complete source of amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), and contain lots of vitamin A, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and fatty acids. Feed the egg with the shell off as this could abrade GI mucosa. Whenever possible, try to find eggs from pasture raised (i.e. without hormones or antibiotics) chickens.
When looking for new treats or ways to boost your dog’s diet, consider adding these nutritionally-packed components to complement your dog’s eating regime. Be sure to introduce these foods gradually, with the proper proportions, and check first with your veterinarian if your dog has any dietary or health concerns.
What are some of your favorite superfoods to share with your dog?