Superfoods for Dogs – Comprehensive List With Their Benefits

superfoods for dogs

All dogs require a balanced diet to stay healthy, which includes a mix of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water. Which is why it is recommended to go for superfoods for dogs that provide them with all-round nutrition. A healthy diet is fundamental to a fit and happy dog.

While superfoods are great to give to dogs, there is no magical ingredient or supplement or food. A healthy and balanced diet is the starting point and no superfood will undo any harm caused by excessive feeding, poor quality kibble, and so on.

What are Superfoods for Dogs?

Superfoods for dogs are nutritionally-dense foods packed with minerals, antioxidants, and trace elements. Dog superfoods help pets fight diseases, boost energy, and maintain good overall health. They can be added to the dog’s diet; be it packaged food or home-cooked meals.

A dog owner should introduce these nutritionally-dense foods gradually and in proper proportions.

Key Macro-Nutrients

Being omnivores, dogs can use carbohydrates as well as proteins as sources of energy, and hence a diet of 30-70% carbohydrates is considered adequate for maintenance for their daily bodily functions.

Proteins are also essential building blocks and dogs ideally require anywhere from 18-25% of the protein in their diet. In addition to this, fats are also a fundamental nutritional component and are necessary for healthy skin and coat. Here is where dog superfoods play their role.

calories in one gram of protein, carbohydrates, alcohol and fat
To understand why a low carb dog food is good, you need to understand why fats are problematic when your dog needs to get into a calorie deficit.

Fighting Malnutrition

Malnutrition can cause various disorders in dogs, including obesity, hair loss, allergies, and skin-related diseases. Such problems are caused by either the quantity or quality of food that is given to the dog.

Proper nutrition is an essential component that must be carefully managed to keep in mind the canine’s nutritional profile and age. It has a profound impact on the overall physical as well as the mental health of a dog.

There are various symptoms of poor nutrition in dogs. These can include bad breath, dandruff, dull coat, obesity, weight loss, excessive shedding, flatulence as well as severe conditions such as congestive heart failure and growth disorders.

If caught early, some nutrition-related illnesses can be reversed. Signs of an adequate balance of nutrients should be taken seriously, and corrective action should be taken to ensure the dog is consuming a well-rounded diet.

Oils & Fatty Acids

Oils are a healthy addition for all dogs. Omega 3-rich fish oil is good for reducing inflammation allergies, heart disease, and joint diseases as well. If the dog has a beef-based pet food, then hempseed or walnut oil can be added.

If poultry-based food is used, then flaxseed of chia oil can be used to supplement the diet. A teaspoon of oil for every pound of food is ideal for most dogs. Fresh whole sardines instead of oil can also be given in addition to coconut oil.

Kefir is also a healthy ingredient. It is essentially fermented milk and contains friendly bacteria. This can control yeast overgrowth in your dog’s intestines. It contains many vitamins and minerals as well as probiotics.

It can help allergies, gastritis, arthritis, anemia, and some cancers as well. 2-3 tablespoons for a large dog or 1-2 tablespoons for a small-to-medium-sized dog is more than enough. Kale is also a supercharged leafy vegetable that contains vitamin A, E, and C and is also a good source of antioxidants.

It helps the liver detoxify the body and has anti-inflammatory properties as well. However, an excessive amount of kale causes certain types of bladder stones or diseases. Adding such superfoods to your dogs’ diet can bring about a multitude of benefits.

However, before incorporating them into your canines’ diet, be sure to check with your local veterinarian to address any dietary or health concerns.

Dog Superfoods
Some amazing dog superfoods in an infographic! (credits: Sumon Dutta)

Top 10 Best Superfoods for your Dogs

Superfoods are extremely beneficial, and dog owners have several options to introduce them to their dog’s diet.

Here are ten best superfoods for dogs that can benefit their health and their immune system:

1. Blueberries

Dogs can eat a few types of berries among the many kinds we humans eat on the daily. Out of the many, blueberries are a beneficial supplement for dogs. These berries are rich in antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals.

This makes it great for their immune system as it provides a boost of energy — moreover, its fiber content aids with digestion and maintaining a healthy digestive tract. Furthermore, blueberries contain many vitamins that are great for coat, skin, nails, vision, and dental health.

Although it is better to refer to your local vet before feeding your dog blueberries. It is better to inquire the right amount to give to your dog as too much can upset their health.

The best way to serve them is frozen. It gives the blueberries a nice cool crunch that the dogs can enjoy during summers. Moreover, the sweet tangy fruit doubles as a treat as well!

2. Kelp

Kelp is a great superfood for dogs. It has sodium, calcium, iodine, and folic acid. This makes the food great for bone health as well as blood production. It provides your dog with the most benefit with minimum calorie intake.

Kelp also contains vitamin A, which is good for vision and maintains your dog’s energy levels. These vitamins maintain their immune system and keep them healthy and active throughout the day. Research shows evidence of kale helping dogs with weight loss and keeping up with their day to day activity.

It can help support thyroid function and prevent kidney failure. The iron-rich compound can help boost your dog’s metabolism as well. This will prevent your dog from being susceptible to different diseases and have a strong immune system.

3. Flaxseed

Flaxseeds have a nutty flavor which makes them unique tasting. They are extremely rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which are essential for a balanced dog diet – hence, it is an excellent superfood for dogs.

Flax seeds are great for digestive health and have a lot of fiber content. They help boost your dog’s immune system and give them extra energy throughout the day. Moreover, it is recommended to have a flaxseed diet, especially if your dog is aging.

It can ease the symptoms of arthritis, control blood pressure, and aid with renal and kidney failure in dogs. Moreover, it is an excellent compound for maintaining a dog’s coat and preventing skin diseases.

Try to chop up seeds and mix them up with your dog’s regular food. It might be challenging to feed nuts to dogs on their own, and this is a much more doable option. The seeds are crunchy, and your dogs are likely to enjoy them!

4. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are one of the most delicious and chewy treats that dogs enjoy. They are flavorful and give an excellent chewing sensation as well. Sweet potatoes have all-natural sugars and are full of fiber content as well.

The high fiber content helps with maintaining the dog’s digestive system. Moreover, there is evidence of sweet potatoes as an agent against cancer, as well as other kinds of ailments that come as a dog age.

Sweet Potatoes are also full of vitamins A, B6, and C, which help maintain the immune system and fight against skin diseases. It is recommended to give senior dogs chewable sweet potato treats or natural boiled sweet potatoes that are cut up into small pieces.

They can help with symptoms of aging and weakness that are commonly seen in older dogs. It is also suitable for bone growth and vision stability. Often, sweet potatoes are used by dog breeders as it is good for reproductive health as well!

5. Eggs

Eggs act as a great superfood for dogs. They are rich in highly digestible protein and are packed full of amino acids. These compounds are great for muscle and tissue health. Moreover, eggs have a lot of vitamins and nutrients.

They are an excellent option for keeping the dog’s skin and coat healthy. In addition, it helps maintain their teeth and gums as well. Eggs also contain fatty acids that help regulate your dogs’ immune system and metabolism.

They are a smoothening agent for dog stomachs and intestines. Interestingly, dogs tend to digest eggs very easily! You can feed them without too much hassle of preparation, and they are budget-friendly as well. You can boil them up to feed them on its own or chop it up to mix it with their food.

Try not to feed raw eggs as there is a risk of your dog contracting salmonella. Moreover, raw egg whites can lead to a deficiency in biotin.

6. Kale

Kale is extremely rich in fiber and Vitamins A, C and E. It helps maintain the dog’s skin, coat, vision, and dental health. The all-round leafy vegetable is known as a superfood as more and more dog food companies are making use of it as an ingredient in the pre-made dog kibble and raw food.

The fiber helps keep a smooth digestive tract and aids with digestion of other food too. It is essential to give them a balanced portion of kale as too much can cause kidney problems as well.

It is often suggested for dogs who tend to overeat and are prone to obesity. Kale reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer as well, which is why it should be an essential component in diets for senior dogs. It is packed full of Vitamin E, which prevents damage against the cells too.

7. Fish

Fish also classifies as an excellent dog superfood. It is extremely rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and D. It is recommended to add different types of fishes in your dog’s diet, especially if they are active all day.

Tuna offers dogs a great ratio of lean proteins versus carbohydrates and fatty acids.
Tuna offers dogs a great ratio of lean proteins versus carbohydrates and fatty acids.

The compounds present in fish help with growth, development, and prevent inflammation from trauma and injuries. In addition to this, fish is a great alternative to dogs who are allergic to store-bought kibble or different types of meat.

Dog owners are recommended to start their dog in small portions of fish, so it does not affect their gastrointestinal system. Try to get your dog used to the food before increasing portion sizes. Also, make sure the fish is boneless.

Fishbones can be a choking hazard, hence go for canned and deboned sardines or salmon. They are rich in healthy fatty acids and flavorful as well.

8. Pumpkin

Pumpkin has a lot of fiber in it. This is what makes it an excellent choice for digestive health in dogs. In addition to that, it is rich in vitamins, minerals carotenoids. It helps regulate their vision and protects the dog’s coat as well.

Pumpkin prevents many skin diseases as well as maintaining a smooth digestive tract. In addition to that, it great for urinary health and kidney problems. There is also anecdotal evidence of pumpkin being helpful for weight management for dogs.

There is a lot of evidence regarding pumpkins preventing cancer due to its high content of antioxidants and healthy compounds. The best way to give pumpkin is to puree it and to give it to your dog to lick off! They will surely enjoy a healthy treat.

9. Carrots

Carrots are known for being a good source of beta-carotene which is a great compound that can boost your dog’s vision and especially advance their vision at night. They also contain vitamin A and help to keep the immune system active.

Moreover, carrots are a potent source of potassium and fiber that can be digested easily and help with your dog’s gastrointestinal health.

They are not only packed full of nutrients but also act as great chew toys for your dog. Frozen carrots are an excellent option for a dog’s dental health and teething puppies. You should add them to your dog’s diet if they have trouble maintaining their oral hygiene.

You can try feeding small dogs baby carrots or chop them up and mix it with food. Carrots can be a choking hazard which is why it is important to cut it into smaller portions. It is a low-calorie healthy snack that dogs enjoy eating.

10. Quinoa

Quinoa is known as the mother of all grains. It has many nutritional benefits, as well. The food is rich in fiber and protein, which is great to maintain your dog’s digestive system as well as their overall muscular health.

Quinoa is also a viable alternative to soy, corn, and wheat that may cause digestive problems in dogs. It can also help replace off-the-rack kibble as it contains identical nutrients but is much fresh and healthy.

The grain contains many vitamins, such as B1, B2, and B6. Moreover, it is also a rich source of vitamin E, which acts as anti-oxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. It does not end here, Quinoa is full of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphate, and potassium.

All these vitamins and nutrients are essential in a balanced diet for dogs. Quinoa is vital for cardiovascular health in dogs and boosts their metabolism as well.

It is easy to digest, and dogs enjoy it as well. There are many ways you can serve quinoa to your dog. You can boil and mix it with their daily food or give it do them on its own!

How Do Superfoods Benefit Dogs?

A superfood for dogs is a nutritionally dense food. These foods are natural and should always be chosen over artificially processed commercialized food for dogs.

There is a variety of combination that can be used to make your own superfood. To break it down, certain foods have particular purposes; for example, the addition of coconut oil in the dog’s bowl can improve its skin, resulting in a shiny coat.

Carrots, rich in beta-carotene, are known to improve eyesight and heart health, and you can include them in the dog’s meal as well. Foods such as blueberries, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes are not only full of antioxidants, but they can also help with the dog’s digestion and inflammatory issues.

Fish, such as salmon, packed with Omega-3 fatty acids in a dog’s diet can improve its behavior since it calms hyperactive behavior in puppies. Additionally, the ultimate protein source eggs have widely been used for muscle recovery and to build bone strength.

It is also a better alternative to store-bought food that has additives and preservatives that can damage your dog’s health in the long run. Hence, it is important to look for natural and clean ingredients that can be a part of their diet instead.

You can also use superfoods as a dietary supplement in their usual meal plan. After a long walk or playtime, your dog can use a post-workout meal with eggs and apples to gain the extra nutritional benefit! Hence, it is safe to say superfoods can improve your dog’s health to a great extent.

Conclusion

Switching to natural superfoods for dogs is a healthier option. However, it is also recommended that you visit a veterinarian before changing up their diet. Some dogs are allergic to certain kinds of foods, which is why you should take the opinion of a trained professional.

There is no one ingredient that can provide you with all the dietary benefits. Which is also why it is necessary to have a blend of different ingredients and variety in your dog’s meals.

Try introducing meals in small portions instead to inspect your dog’s reaction to them. If they are getting allergic skin reactions, constipation or diarrhea, it is better to discontinue such ingredients. Only make it a part of their daily diet if they are comfortable with the ingredients!

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