You’ve heard of human superfoods, but what about canine superfoods? As we become more conscious about what we put in our bodies, more and more people are inevitably looking over at their dog’s plate, too. If you’re looking to give your furry friend a leg up and offer more health-promoting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, look no further than these superfoods for dogs.
What Is A Superfood?
By now, you may have heard the term “superfood” in conversations about health. But what makes a food super? Simply stated, a superfood is a food that contains maximum nutritional value for a minimal amount of calories. They are nutritionally dense. They give you a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak.
Superfoods contain high amounts of one or more nutrients that support your dog’s health, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, like vitamins E and beta-carotene, essential fatty acids, and fiber.1
What Are Antioxidants, Again?
Antioxidants are molecules that help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels get too high in your dog’s body. They are linked to many health conditions that can affect your dog’s heart, brain, blood, immune system, and more.2,3
Studies show that antioxidants may have the following effects on dogs:
- They may help ward off age-related behavior issues like pacing and excessive licking.
- Support agility
- Support the immune system
- Support coat and skin health4
How Do Superfoods Benefit Dogs?
Dogs have the potential to be exposed to a variety of environmental toxins every day. Things like lawn fertilizer, weed killer, pesticides, swimming pool chemicals, and certain types of plant and human food are harmful to dogs.5 Natural aging and medical conditions can also take a toll on your dog’s health.
Offering your dog nutrient-rich superfoods can help their bodies defend themselves. Superfoods may support:
- Overall wellness6
- A healthy weight7
- Digestive health8
- An active lifestyle9
- Heart health10
- Immune health11
Best Superfoods For Your Dog
So, what is the healthiest food to feed your dog in addition to their regular food? There are many wonderful superfoods out there – many of which we likely already include in our own diets. Among the superfoods, these are the most suitable for supporting your dog’s health.
While “superfoods” are typically associated with fruits and veggies, beef liver tops this list thanks to its incredible nutritional profile. A small serving of liver can provide over 100% of the recommended daily intake for many nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin A, and copper. It is also rich in high-quality protein, iron, and low in calories.12
For dogs, beef liver may support vision, heart, and organ health. It may also support a regulated body temperature, strength, and endurance.13
Salmon is another highly nutritious protein source that is excellent for dogs. This fatty fish is full of B vitamins, potassium, and selenium.
It’s also a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA, which can support the canine immune system, collagen production, kidney health, and keep coats looking shiny and healthy.14,15
Flaxseed is a small seed that comes from the flax plant. It’s a well-known superfood or “functional food” that people (and dogs) can consume to support their health. Flaxseed is packed with quality protein, fiber, antioxidants, lignans, omega-3 fatty acids, and nutrients, like thiamine, copper, and magnesium.16
Flax protein may support the heart and immune system. Thiamine is a B vitamin that supports energy metabolism and cell function. Copper can support brain development, immune health, and iron digestion. The mighty flaxseed also contains nutrients that can support kidney function and keep your dogs skin and coat healthy.17,18
Sweet potatoes are root vegetables that are packed with fiber, vitamins like vitamin A and C, and minerals. They are loaded with antioxidants, like beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A).
In addition to the antioxidant benefits, sweet potatoes are great for the gut. Their high fiber content supports healthy gut bacteria, which can give your pup all sorts of digestive benefits. To help support eye health, immune health, and better poops, sweet potatoes are a great superfood option.19
Pumpkin is another superfood that is great for dogs. This delightful winter squash is highly nutritious and rich in vitamins A, E, and C and minerals, like potassium, copper, manganese, and iron. It also contains antioxidant compounds, like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
For dogs, pumpkin can support immune health, eye function, and skin health.20
Are carrots good for dogs? Absolutely. Carrots are yet another orange vegetable that packs in tons of beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and other nutrients.
The vitamin A content in carrots makes them especially useful for supporting vision and eye health in dogs. Vitamin K supports blood health. Vitamin B6 supports the production of energy, keeping your dog agile and active. Like most superfoods, the calorie content of carrots is relatively low compared to how many nutrients they contain. This orange vegetable gets a resounding green light.21
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable known for its beneficial health benefits. Broccoli is high in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and potassium. It contains antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds, like sulforaphane and kaempferol. It also has relatively high protein content compared to other green vegetables.22
Broccoli is also great for your dog’s gut, liver, and eyes. The compound sulforaphane may even support a calm and balanced mood.23
This tiny seed packs a huge nutritional punch. Chia seeds are rich in antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and beneficial minerals. They may support mood, vision, the immune system, digestive issues, and more.24
When you offer chia seeds to your dog, either poured directly over their food or contained in a dry food formula, you may be giving your pup tons of potential benefits. Chia seeds may support canine heart health, joint health, digestive health, and strong bones.25
What is the best fruit for dogs? It may very well be the small but mighty blueberry. Blueberries are one of the most nutrient-dense berries and antioxidant-rich foods out there.26 Along with many essential vitamins and minerals, blueberries are rich in a group of beneficial flavonoids called anthocyanins.27,28
Ginger comes from a flowering plant native to Southeast Asia. It’s considered to be one of the healthiest spices on the planet. The part that is commonly used in meals is the root.
One of the most important compounds in ginger is gingerol, a bioactive substance with strong antioxidant properties. Ginger may also support joint health.29,30
Turmeric is a bright orange spice that contains a bioactive compound called curcumin. Curcumin has strong antioxidant properties that give it a ton of potential benefits for dogs.
Turmeric may support joint and digestive health.31
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane mushrooms are large, white mushrooms that resemble a lion’s mane as they grow. This superfood contains bioactive substances that can support your dog’s heart, gut health and immune health.32
Super Food For A Super Dog
If you’re looking to increase your dog’s intake of nutrients and antioxidants, talk to your vet about your dog’s diet, and consider reaching for a superfood. Many of these foods make great, low calorie snacks for dogs or a healthy addition to your dog’s meals. For an even more convenient option, seek out high quality dog food that is formulated with some of these superfoods.