If your dog is anything like mine, he holds the coveted position of “lead cuddler” in the family. But, cuddling can be a lot of work, and your dog will need all of his energy to distribute his daily licks and wags to the entire family, and the mailman, and the kids across the street. Feeding your dog superfood will give him the extra kick he needs to accomplish his job of bringing smiles to the faces of all.
What Is a Superfood?
You may have come across the term “Superfood”. Well, the name is all the explanation that you need. These foods are packed full of nutrients and vitamins that are good for your health and will lead to a healthier lifestyle.
While you’ve probably heard the term in relation to humans, many of these foods are also very healthy for our furry friends and can be incorporated into their diet to increase their health.
Nutrition expert Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., RD states that superfoods are good for your heart and overall health when incorporated into a heart-healthy, balanced diet. But, what does it take to maintain a balanced in your dog?
What It Takes To Keep Your Dog Healthy
Dogs are a member of the scientific order Carnivora, a group that is based on similar tooth structure. However, the nutritional needs of the mammals in this group vary greatly, and dogs fall under the omnivore category, just as humans do.
The six basic nutrients that dogs require in order for the body to function are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins.
Each individual dog varies in its needs based on size, age, activity level, and breed. A food that works wonders for one dog, may not work as well for another. For example, an active, working dog may need a higher protein intake than a senior dog who spends most of its day indoors. It’s important to alter your dog’s diet for its own specific needs.
Before trying any new food with your dog it’s a good idea to check with your vet to deduce if your dog would benefit from the new food. After your dog has tried the new food, monitor him in order to identify any new changes, good or bad.
Meet The Superfoods
Blueberries are a bite-sized snack that is low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. The antioxidants found in blueberries can also result in significant improvements in cognitive function in aging dogs and help support joint and bone health for active dogs.
Cranberries, a superfood that’s a common ingredient in many natural dog treats, and for good reason! They are a natural supplement for urinary health, as well as a source of vitamins C, E, and K. Not only that, but they’re low in calories and fats but high in fiber and antioxidants. If you’re planning on feeding your dog cranberries, make sure that they are not raw, because dogs can have a difficult time digesting them.
Put away the weed-whacker, this weed growing in your backyard is actually a superfood for your dog! The stem and leaf of the plant are a natural source of vitamins A, C, K, D, and B. Containing minerals like calcium, potassium, and prebiotics like inulin, dandelion can help to improve liver function and aid digestion in your pet.
While salmon isn’t a protein source for dogs as it is for humans, the oil is a good source of fatty acids that can help to support skin and coat health. You can give your dogs coat an extra bit of shine by giving your dog salmon oil supplements, or by adding oil onto his food.
Coconut oil contains beneficial fats used for digestion support in dogs. It also contains lauric acid which has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. If your dog has itchy or dry skin, rubbing coconut oil on it can help to relieve your dog from any discomfort. While coconut oil is safe for your dog, it should be introduced slowly and used sparingly.
Who would have thought that this common herb could be so helpful to the health of a dog? With its high level of vitamins C, A, and K, parsley can help with immune support, vision, and healthy blood clotting. It contains folic acids and antioxidants that help promote kidney and urinary health.
Be careful while feeding this power-herb to your dog, the curly-leafed parsley is good, but spring parsley can be toxic. In general, give this herb to your dog sparingly.
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which helps to improve eyesight. They also promote healthy skin and hair coat, normal bone development, reproductive health, general eye health, and cancer prevention. If you choose to give your dog carrots as a treat, be sure to cut them up into small pieces to avoid choking or gastrointestinal discomfort.
It’s important to note that although these superfoods are very healthy for your dog, they should not be used in excessive. Anything in excess can be detrimental to your dog, and these foods should be used in addition to your dog’s balanced diet, not as a substitute for it.
Just as we try to feed our children food that will help them to grow and flourish, we also want to feed our dogs food that will keep them happy and healthy. Many dogs will benefit greatly from these superfoods, and in their minds, they’re receiving a delicious new snack, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
 American Heart Association. (Updated May 2, 2017). What’s So Super About Superfoods? Retrieved on September 22, 2017 from (https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Whats-so-super-about-superfoods_UCM_457937_Article.jsp)
 Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH. (November 5, 2011). Nutrition-General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs. Retrieved on September 22, 2017 from https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/nutrition-general-feeding-guidelines-for-dogs
 American Kennel Club Association. (September 13, 2016). Can My Dog Eat These Human Superfoods?. Retrieved on September 22, 2017 from http://www.akc.org/content/health/articles/can-my-dog-eat-these-human-superfoods/
 Jennifer Kvamme. Can Eating Carrots Improve Eyesight?. Retrieved on September 22, 2017 from http://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_can_carrots_improve_dog_eyesight
Written by Jackie Todd