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Research has suggested that certain superfoods are great for human health and may even extend your lifespan. But what do superfoods do for dogs? Is it OK to feed your dog these foods?
What Are “Super” Foods?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), while there are no standard criteria, foods that are nutrient-packed and good for your health, (i.e. blueberries, kale, salmon) are often considered “superfoods.”
Superfoods often contain a large dose of vitamins and minerals, like antioxidants, fiber, or phytochemicals that help prevent disease and may even extend human life. The AHA concludes that these foods are good for your heart and your health, especially when incorporated into a balanced diet.
But what about for your pets? Do these nutrient-rich foods support the health of our dogs?
Which Superfoods Are Safe for My Dog to Eat?
Blueberries are considered a superfood because they are low in calories and high in vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals.
And in fact, blueberries are great for dogs and humans, alike. Blueberries can even improve the health of animals. Studies even show that the antioxidants found in blueberries can result in significant improvements in cognitive function in aging dogs and help support joint and bone health for active dogs.
As with all human foods, you should feed blueberries to your dog in moderation. Consult your veterinarian if you have concerns and monitor your dog closely after adding to or changing his diet.
Often known as a natural supplement for urinary health, cranberries have many additional benefits. They are a natural source of vitamins C, E, and K. Also, like blueberries, they are low in calories and fats, but high in fiber and antioxidants.
With all of these nutrients, cranberries for dogs can be a good addition to complement their diet. However, you should not feed your dog raw cranberries, because dogs have a difficult time digesting them. Instead, you can find cranberry supplements or treats with cranberries as an ingredient to share this superfood with your pup.
Who would have thought that this plant taking over your garden could actually be a superfood? Dandelion greens — the stem and leaf parts of the plant — are a natural source of vitamins A, C, K, D, and B. In addition, they have minerals like calcium, potassium, and prebiotics like inulin.
Dandelion greens are known by herbalists to be the “perfect plant medicine” and are often used to improve liver function and aid digestion. They are also a good source of flavonoids, which can help reduce the risk of disease.
Salmon is an excellent source of protein, good fats, and amino acids. It supports a healthy immune system, in addition to promoting joint and brain health. It is often recommended as a heart-healthy food for humans.
This being said, salmon for dogs is perfect for aiding skin and coat health. You can give salmon oil supplements for dogs or add the oil to his food. While not a source of protein, salmon oil is a good source of fatty acids that can help support skin and coat health.
Again, be sure to consult your veterinarian about the best plan for your dog’s health. If you decide to add something like salmon oil to his diet, be sure to monitor him closely when giving it to him for the first time.
Often used for its hair and skin benefits, coconut oil also has beneficial fats used for digestion support. Additionally, coconut oil contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties.
Consult with your veterinarian to develop a plan to use coconut oil for your dog’s skin.
You’d be surprised that this commonplace herb is rich with vitamins and minerals that provide substantial health benefits.
Parsley is a natural source of vitamins C, A, and K. These vitamins help with immune support, vision, and healthy blood clotting. Parsley also has folic acids and antioxidants that help promote kidney and urinary health.
You do have to be careful about feeding this super herb to your dog. Curly-leafed parsley is OK, but spring parsley can be toxic. Because parsley is a diuretic, you’ll want to give it to your dog very sparingly. Many treats, foods, and dental chews are made with parsley, and these make it easier to give this healthy herb to your dog.
Feeding Your Dog Superfoods
If you decide to take advantage of some of the health benefits of these superfoods, consult your veterinarian for the best nutrition plan for your dog.
As described above, some of these human foods can be given to your dog directly, while others can be incorporated into your dog’s diet through dog food or treats.