What are the Best Superfoods for Dogs?
We’ve heard a lot about superfoods, and a quick internet search may reveal how interested people are in these beneficial foods. Before I go farther, for the sake of transparency, I may receive a compensation for links on this page.
A gigantic 131,000,000 results come back, mostly from health and nutrition blogs. But is there such a thing as superfoods for dogs?
The human nutrition market is spilling over into the canine world, and new supplements are popping up daily But what exactly is a superfood.
The Oxford English dictionary defines a superfood
“a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially
beneficial for health and well-being.”
On the other hand, the Merriam-Webster dictionary omits any reference to health and defines it as
“a super nutrient-dense food, loaded with vitamins, minerals,
fiber, antioxidants, and/or phytonutrients.”
Superfoods are those that are packed with a dense array of nutrients that boast of many health benefits including improving the immune system, increasing energy, and increasing overall health. Many have ingredients that target a particular organ system such as the heart, liver, or kidneys.
Where did the term originate? It seems we’ve been using it for a long time, but it turns out that we can trace the word back to 2004. According to Wild Blueberries,
Dr. Steven Pratt, a best-selling author, ocular surgeon and healthcare, nutrition and lifestyle specialist, first used the word in his 2004 book, SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life. According to Dr. Pratt, some nutrient-rich foods play a significant role in achieving optimal health.
Since dogs can eat a large number of foods that were initially termed, people food, it goes to reason that these superfoods would improve the overall health of dogs too. Naturally, there are some exceptions such as cocoa for example. Chocolate has been identified as a superfood for humans, but dogs should not eat chocolate as it can be toxic.
The blue color comes from anthocyanidins, potent antioxidants, and phytochemicals that give the fruit its characteristic color. Blueberries also make an excellent treat for your dog, but go easy as too much of a good thing can cause diarrhea. The berries also supply vitamins C and E, fiber, and manganese. If fresh blueberries are not in season, frozen berries are readily available in food stores.
Raw or cooked, broccoli is an excellent anti-carcinogen and can help prevent the onset of skin and heart problems amongst older dogs. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber essential to the diet. It is high in vitamin C and folate, a vitamin that can reduce the risk of heart disease, and some cancers.
Carrots make a healthy crunchy snack for dogs. They are bursting with fiber, carotenoids, vitamins C and K, which is needed for blood clotting, and potassium. They also contain manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and most of the B vitamins necessary for energy production.
This traditional grain has many of the same benefits as the more well-known flax seed. The nutritional benefits include protein, antioxidants, calcium, omega fatty acids, and fiber. They also can hydrate the body.
Eggs are original superfoods for dogs and people, packed with proteins that help promote healthy digestion build healthy bones, and provide vitamins A, D, E and K. Eggs should be cooked to prevent the possibility of salmonella poisoning.
Oily fish such as anchovies, mackerel, sardines, salmon, and herring are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which are very important for a dog’s brain, coat, and skin. They also limit inflammation that causes pain associated with arthritis and other chronic canine ailments.
Fish is an excellent protein source, as well as many essential vitamins and minerals. Salmon, in particular, provides a massive amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, especially important if you want to thicken your dog’s coat and relieve the itching that accompanies allergies and improve the integrity of the skin.
Kale is a supercharged leafy vegetable that contains an abundant number of vitamins, including A, E, and C. It is an excellent source of antioxidants and helps the liver detoxify the body. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. As superfoods for dogs, kale is one of the best. Dogs with certain types of bladder stones or kidney disease should not eat this food.
Nori is a dry, edible seaweed used in many Japanese dishes such as sushi. It contains protein, galactans (a starch and type of soluble fiber. Nori is also packed with vitamins including C, E and B vitamins. Minerals such as copper and zinc are also found in Nori. This superfood for dogs is helpful in improving immune functions and aids in fat metabolism.
Pumpkin might conjure up images of jack-o-lanterns, at least in the US, or pumpkin pie, bread, or soup, but there is no denying the nutritional value of this vegetable. High in soluble fiber and low in calories, pumpkin helps support healthy digestion.
Pumpkin is low and sodium and high in carotenoids, potassium, vitamin C. It also has some B vitamins and calcium. Canned organic pumpkin is readily available in food stores, but be sure to pick a pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
Commonly considered a grain, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually a seed related to spinach. Quinoa is an exceptional source of a complete vegetarian protein supplying all eight of the essential amino acids and is also an outstanding source of fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and many phytochemicals. Quinoa is an antioxidant and can help reduce the risk of diabetes.
Sweet potatoes are a great superfoods for dogs, popular with the canine crowd, and possess 150% more antioxidants than blueberries and contain a healthy dose of beta-carotene. Also, sweet potatoes contain vitamin C for immune health and A for heart health.
Yogurt contains active cultures of good bacteria, and these probiotics improve digestive function. It also contains protein, calcium, iodine, zinc, potassium, vitamin B12, phosphorus. Yogurt can also provide a decent source of other B vitamins such as riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Like humans, dogs have a variety of critical dietary needs. And with increasing concern over the ingredients in commercial dog food, over-processing, and lack of a quality source of vitamins and minerals, superfoods are an excellent addition to the dog’s diet.
Providing these superfoods for dogs will assure your dog gets that extra boost of nutrition. But if this is not possible for you, relax, you can still provide that extra nutrition in the form of a supplement. Here are a few you may want to investigate.