By Lazhar Ichir
Just like humans, dogs have their own canine superfoods — wholesome dog foods that are packed with large quantities of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other valuable micronutrients while keeping the calorie count decently low.
Some of them are rather common such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, or apple cider vinegar. But in this article, I want to honor five lesser known superfoods for dogs.
Let’s get right into it!
1. Sweet potatoes
We’ve got them at home as a staple food, they are cheap and versatile — what’s not to love about sweet potatoes?
Discovered in the Americas centuries ago, sweet potatoes are a wonderful superfood for dogs and humans altogether. It’s packed with beta-carotene, minerals, Vitamins C and A, and they are relatively high in fiber.
Sweet potatoes are a great overall replacement for grain carbohydrates. Say goodbye to wheat, corn, soy, barley, rice, and even quinoa, while you say hello to yams and sweet potatoes. Mashed, boiled, oven-baked, prepare them the way your dog loves them!
Sweet potatoes can be turned into healthy long-lasting dog jerky chews, check out this recipe here. It’s easy and so much better than chemical-filled chews available commercially.
Part of the seaweed family, kelp is a nutritious sea vegetable that encompasses a wide range of healthy minerals, vitamins and amino acids. It may not be the cheapest superfood out there but it’s well worth it!
Very low in fat at just 2%, helps contains 25% of quality proteins and iodine, helpful to reinforce your dog’s thyroid, adrenal and pituitary glands and functions. Kelp should be your sea vegetable of choice also because it is loaded with numerous natural growth hormones and iron to support a healthy blood circulation.
Kelp is rarely the main part of a dog’s meal because of its very low calorie content; however, sea vegetables are perfect as health complement or food topper since you don’t need to eat a lot to reap the benefits.
3. Coconut oil
One of the most nutritious oils, coconut oil is filled with glorious antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties.
Coconut oil is made up of capric acid, palmitic acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and lauric acid; all of which are medium chain triglycerides which are known to boost brain functions, especially in senior dogs. It is over 90% saturated fats but with a great fatty acid profile.
Using coconut oil helps with increasing the absorption of other minerals and micronutrients which explains why more holistic veterinarians than ever are recommending a regular splash of this wonder in your dog’s food.
Surprisingly, coconut oil can also be used topically on your dog’s skin, especially to soothe dry skin and other skin issues. Just brush a thin layer on your pet’s skin regularly throughout the week and you should see improvements rapidly.
We don’t like seeing or touching offals because, let’s be honest about it, we’re grossed out. The truth is we shouldn’t even if what is considered as offal and organ meat can be a scary list: heart, kidneys, livers, brain, lungs, spleen, as well as stomachs and intestines without their contents.
Offals are a huge source of micronutrients on top of high quality lipids and proteins. The enzymes and bacterial environment present in tripes, kidneys or even a heart are an exceptional source of healthy bioelements a dog’s body needs.
Generally, offals are served raw, sometimes diced up, in order to keep their nutritious value whole. Cooking organ meats would cause them to lose a lot of their goodness.
Amongst the most popular highlights founds in offals you will find high levels of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Niacin, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc, Iron, Copper, Selenium and Phosphorus.
As a measure of precaution, we recommend not to feed any spinal tissue or brain to avoid any risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly referred to as Mad Cow. It is also recommended to mix up the types of offals you serve your dog just to keep a great variety of micronutrients.
Organic sardines are one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, the type of fat known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
When it comes to fish we’ve got to be careful of two main aspects:
- those who consume canned sardines have to only serve fillets that aren’t too high in spices, oil, or sodium
- buying fresh sardines is always better as bones in sardines are usually fine for larger dogs, pick the most obvious ones if your pooch is smaller!
On top of great fatty acids, sardines are also packed with proteins, vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus and calcium. Sardines are amongst the most cost-efficient fish out there so it’s a no brainer!
An all-encompassing food, sardines will help your dog’s entire body and support system from cellular functions to heart health, there’s nothing fishy about it! (Spot the pun!)
Superfoods are NOT magic tricks!
Introducing any superfood to a dog should always be done gradually and slowly so you, as the owner, can spot any change in your dog’s stools or energy levels. Each pet is unique and such an article cannot detect the singularities of each reader’s dog — speak to your vet in case of any doubt!
These five superfoods are pure healthful goodness but they are not magic: you cannot just fill your dog’s food bowl with sardines and quinoa to see immediate improvements. Don’t turn your entire dog’s diet upside down but instead add these superfoods on a regular basis to the point where they become part of your pooch’s daily meals. Make sure you are getting your dog’s macros right and not overfeeding!
Lazhar Ichir is the founder of Breeding Business, the free platform educating ethical dog breeders worldwide with interviews, articles, reviews, guides, and more.