Your dog's nutrition is the single most important thing that effects his overall health and well being. A better quality diet will have an effect on everything from his skin and coat health to the strength of his immune system.
Dogs are derived from wild animals, and their diet still requires the same rich nutrients that their ancestors found in nature. Similar to the super foods that are beneficial to humans, there are many super foods for dogs as well.
Don't forget to check out last week's column about vaccinating your dog.
Dog's are all very different, meaning they all have different nutritional requirements. It's best to work with a canine nutritionist or your veterinarian to come up with a diet that will meet your dog's specific needs. Whether or not you make your own dog food and treats, there are many super foods for dogs that you can incorporate into your Fido's diet to give him extra nutritional benefits.
Many of these super foods for dogs are naturally appealing, but you may have to hide some of them in your dog's food. A lot of them can be mixed with protein sources like meat, eggs or peanut butter to offer a more appealing flavor to dogs with a picky palate.
As with any new food, remember to introduce these super foods into your pet's diet slowly and in small quantities. If your dog has never tried them before there is a small risk of allergic reaction. It can also do a lot of damage to a dog's digestive tract if you change his diet too drastically.
8 Tips on Super Foods for Dogs from Experts
1. Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM
You wouldn't think you'd find a great article about super foods for dogs on a website called Boredom Therapy, but I did. They share an article that includes 12 surprising super foods for dogs recommended by Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM. I really enjoyed that this article not only listed the super foods, but also explained the benefits of each one.
- The pumpkin puree is brimming with fiber, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids that are good for regulating digestion, supporting the immune system, creating healthy skin and preventing cancer.
2. Dr. Laci Schaible
Dr. Laci Schaible also weighs in on the super foods for dogs topic with this article for Petcha. She is a self-proclaimed health nut, and tries to educate pet parents about the benefit of feeding their dogs a healthier diet. She says that in general some of the benefits of super foods for humans can also apply to dogs, and she lists the eight super foods for dogs that she feels offer the most health benefits.
- …but sweet potatoes come pretty close. In fact, they are so nutritious that they can be fed daily, and your dog will thank you! They’re rich in beta-carotene, which dogs convert to vitamin A — and that’s important for good vision, healthy skin, growth and the immune system.
3. One Green Planet
I also stumbled across this blog from One Green Planet that discusses some odd, yet effective super foods for dogs. Their list includes alfalfa seeds and ground flaxseed along with more traditional foods like broccoli and blueberries. I like that they highlight the fact that it won't cost you a fortune to feed your dog a healthier diet.
Many of the items found in these articles can be purchased at your local grocery store, and won't cost you more than a few cents per serving. If you're leaning away from trying these super foods for dogs just because of the added expense, think about the long term effects.
A healthier diet leads to a healthier dog, which will lead to smaller veterinary bills, less supplements, and many other cost savings – not to mention it will add years to your dog's life. Isn't that worth a few cents per day? You don't need to feed your Fido all of these super foods every day. Rotate them into his diet on a regular basis, and you'll start seeing a healthier pup in no time.
- My dog can’t get enough blueberries! These fun, sweet treats can be served raw, frozen or powdered…blueberries are great because:-They have high amounts of phyto-chemicals.
-They are a rich source of Vitamin E.
-They are high in fibre and manganese.
-They are a great source of antioxidants.
4. Dr. Karen Becker
Stirling Moriah wrote this blog for solveandevolve.org in which he explains how he used the super food recommendations of Dr. Karen Becker to make her own super food dog treats. The beginning of the article touches on the many harmful ingredients that are found in many commercial dog treats and the importance of feeding your pet a quality diet.
Then she shares the step by step instructions for making the treats. She explains the ingredients that she uses and their health benefits.
- Walnuts or Brazil nuts come next, and often large portions of organic peanut butter, another of their favorite ingredients (I’ve had a jar go missing during the process, only to turn up topless under the couch, covered in teeth marks).
5. French Bulldog Rescue Network
This interesting article from the French Bulldog Rescue Network plays on the “eat this not that” diet approach. They list many common foods that are not healthy for dogs and then make a suggestion of a similar food that can be fed which is much healthier. For example, they discuss the disadvantages of feeding your Fido processed meat and the benefits of feeding high quality fresh protein instead.
- Probably the most popular human-type food that dogs likely ate in the wild, poultry is packed with protein and low in calories compared to other red meats. But unlike cooking for people, there’s really no need to add salt, pepper and especially not garlic, when preparing this product since these spices can be harmful for animals.
The Honest Kitchen is a dog food manufacturing company that makes dehydrated food for dogs using whole, natural ingredients. Obviously, they pride themselves in offering pet parents a better alternative to traditional commercial pet foods.
6. The Honest Kitchen
They also take pride in educating pet parents about the dangers of an unhealthy diet for dogs. On their website, the company shares articles and blog posts with tips and tricks, DIY ideas and recipes. In this blog post the author discusses the do's and don'ts of human super foods for dogs.
- With the same benefits offered by salmon and fish oil, sardines don’t live long enough to store toxins in their body. Go for the variety that is canned in water, rather than oil, for lower fat content.
7. National Canine Cancer Foundation
The National Canine Cancer Foundation offers this great visual on their website that describes seven super foods that are great for dogs. Below the visual they describe how to prepare each food for your pet and how you can prepare it to add directly to your pet's food if you want to do it that way. As I mentioned, some dogs will eat anything and others may need something with a little more appeal.
- As with the other foods on this list, kale is a superfood for both humans and dogs, providing the benefits found in vitamins A, C, and K, while also providing high levels of calcium and iron.
8. Julie Flaherty
The last article I'll share this week is by Julie Flaherty. She wrote this article for Tufts Nutrition, a magazine put out by the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. It doesn't specifically talk about the super foods that are best for dogs, but it does discuss the link between canine and human nutrition.
The article explains that human nutrition is much more like canine nutrition than it is like that of mice or rats. Therefore, it is beneficial for us to study canine nutrition and learn from that. Since dogs naturally develop many of the same diseases that we do, we can study how nutrition effects those diseases.
- Unlike with humans, “we can control these animals’ diets very carefully to study the role of nutrition in these diseases,” she says. This kind of research could help not only pets, but ultimately humans.
If you want to help your dog stay healthy, a high quality diet is the first step. Pair that with regular exercise, and your dog is sure to live a long and healthy life. His quality of life will be increased and he will be happier overall. A good diet starts with a good food, but whether you make your dog's food yourself or buy a commercial diet, these super foods for dogs can be a beneficial additive.
READ NEXT: 15 Top Dog Food Brands