Have you heard the latest buzz around superfoods? It does seem like every week we’re told ‘eat more x’, ‘cut out y’, ‘a little bit of z is worth it’. So what actually are superfoods and why should you - or your dog - care?
Well, in a nutshell, superfoods are thought to be a great way to get a lot of nutrients into our dog's diet to boost health and wellbeing. Even a small portion packs a punch, apparently. Superfoods are mostly plant-based but can also be extended to certain fish, such as salmon, or dairy products.
Here are seven of the best superfoods for dogs and why health experts recommend them.
1. Chia Seeds
In Ancient Mayan language, the word chia means ‘strength’.
These tiny little seeds pack a punch and people tend to like them because they deliver a lot of nutritional value through zinc, vitamin B, fibre, calcium, antioxidants and even protein to boost energy for very few calories so can be good for people or dogs on a weight loss regime.
Unlike flax seeds, another superfood, dog owners might like chia seeds because they don’t need to be ground down to get the maximum health benefits from the seeds.
If you decide to give your dog some chia seeds, start slowly and only give a few to avoid the risk of choking and to see how your dog takes to them.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut is being used more and more in shampoos, conditioners and natural skin care products because of its ability to make our hair shiny and skin smooth.
Over recent years as diets, such as the low carb-high fat keto diet, have taken off, we’ve even started replacing traditional cooking oils with coconut oil, because it's packed full of fatty acids which can boost fat burning and provide the body and brain with quick energy.
Dogs can benefit from coconut oil for all of the reasons highlighted above. It’s a good source of energy and can do wonders for skin, coat and all-round health and wellbeing.
Kale is truly one of the world’s best superfoods. It’s is a great source of vitamins A, E, and C and is packed full of antioxidants. It can help to reduce inflammation and some even say it can reduce cholesterol.
The website Nomnomnow.com goes even further saying vegetables with properties like kale can “disarm free radicals before they can damage DNA and cell membranes. This alone can prevent cancer in your dog. The same phytonutrients are also responsible for maintaining a healthy heart and eyes.”
K9 Magazine’s very own nearly 14-year-old Rottweiler, Mia gets a handful of kale every few days because it's good for her but it's too fibrous for her to consume daily.
If your dog doesn’t enjoy it raw, try baking in a little olive oil on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until the leaves start to crisp up and giving it to them as a snack when cooled down.
4. Salmon Oil
Salmon or salmon oil isn’t a new superfood, in fact, you’ve probably heard about it and given it to your dog in one-way shape or form before because it often makes up a proportion of supplements for a dog’s coat, skin and joints because of its many healthy properties.
Salmon oil is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are known to reduce heart disease, improve brain health and reduce inflammation, among other things - such as potentially decrease the risk of skin allergies.
So simply put, salmon or salmon oil in some way shape or form can be a great addition to a dog’s diet.
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Seaweed has its fans, for sure, mainly because it has a high concentration of vitamins, iron and antioxidants in small portions.
Some people enjoy it as a crispy snack on a low-calorie diet. In the case of why its recommended for dogs, it’s because it’s easy to digest and can help to detoxify the body, which makes us think it gives the liver an easier job at keeping us healthy from the inside.
Photo Credit: Alice Wiegand, (Lyzzy)
If you’re thinking of adding this into your dog’s diet, look into supplements or speak with your vet to gauge amounts of seaweed to consider feeding before trying small amounts of the real stuff.
Studies suggest that spirulina can help to improve gastrointestinal health, reduce inflammation and help reduce allergies. Some even suggest it has the potential to help detoxify the body, helping the liver to do its job well, enhances the body’s ability to generate new blood cells and even possibly reduce the rate of cancer.
In the case of dogs, spirulina can be considered a superfood because it aids digestion and can suppress bad bacteria, meaning more of the good stuff from superfoods, like this one, can be absorbed into the body.
Pet owners who’ve given it to their dog even believe it can improve bad breath.
If you’re considering adding the powdered supplement into your dog’s diet, start slowly with 1/4 a teaspoon per lb of food consumed (max), because too much can cause an upset stomach.
7. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes must have had a PR agency boosting their profile over the last few because pretty much every supermarket has a sweet potato offering on their shelves.
Packed full of immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory nutrients and vitamins A and C, they’re often recommended for people suffering from arthritis.
What makes them appeal to dog owners is they are low in fat and full of fibre too, so you’ll see some dog food brands adding them into their make up in favour of traditional bulking foods, such as grains and cereals.
But this last point means if you are considering giving them to your dog, start slow and small because too much fibre could cause your dog to have an upset stomach.