Many of us are trying to eat more "Superfoods" for better overall health. These are some people superfoods that when added to your dog’s regular, well-balanced diet, can benefit and enhance your dog’s nutrition.
Blueberries are available all year, and whether fresh or frozen, are great training treats for your canine companion. They are loaded with phytochemicals, and their deep blue hue is the result of anthocyanidins, which are powerful antioxidants. Blueberries are also a good source of healthy fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and E.
Take care to slowly introduce this superfood to your dog, as too much too soon can cause digestive upset. Replacing one of the current treats you feed each day with fresh or frozen blueberries is a great way to increase antioxidants.
Broccoli supports detoxification processes in your dog's body (and yours); contains healthy fiber to aid digestion; is rich in beneficial nutrients like potassium, calcium, protein and vitamin C; has anti-inflammatory properties; supports eye health; helps repair skin damage; and supports heart health.
I always prefer local organic produce, however, conventionally grown broccoli is one of the cleanest (most pesticide-free) foods you can buy, so eat up! Your pet may prefer broccoli steamed, although many dogs eat florets fresh, with no problems. Chopped broccoli stems make great detox treats, too.
Chia is a seed derived from the desert plant Salvia hispanica that grows abundantly in southern Mexico. It is a source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids and also antioxidants. And unlike flax seeds, chia seeds don't need to be ground. Chia seeds also provide fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc.
Try sprinkling some chia seeds on your dog's meals, or mix some with a little coconut oil for a super nutrient dense bedtime snack.
4. Fermented Veggies
This is a picture of my dog, Rosco, gobbling up his fermented vegetables. Some dogs love them; others won't touch them!
Fermented foods are potent detoxifiers and contain much higher levels of probiotics and vitamin K2 than supplements can provide. Beneficial gut bacteria provided by probiotics break down and eliminate heavy metals and other toxins from the body, and perform a number of other important functions. Adding 1-3 teaspoons of fermented veggies to your pet's food each day (depending on body weight) is a great way to offer food-based probiotics and natural nutrients.
For more information on the benefits of fermented vegetables, read Dr. Mercola's excellent article How to Easily and Inexpensively Ferment Your Own Vegetables.
5. Goji Berries (also called Wolfberries)
Goji berries are typically sold dried and resemble red raisins. Whole goji berries can be found at Chinese herbal shops and some health food stores. The berries are rich in amino acids and antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Goji extracts may prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, and lower cholesterol levels.
I use these as tiny training rewards in place of processed dog treats with great success.
Kale is a dark green cruciferous vegetable loaded with vitamins (especially vitamins K, A and C), iron, and antioxidants. It helps with liver detoxification and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Add 1-3 tablespoons of minced or chopped kale to your pet's food daily, depending on body weight, as a great source of fiber, nutrients and whole food antioxidants.
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage that contains beneficial probiotics that support the immune system. Although regular, pasteurized cow's milk can be irritating to pets' GI tracts, fermented milk is different. One of the best and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria through your pet's diet is to convert raw milk to kefir yourself. All you need is one-half packet of kefir starter granules in a quart of raw milk (preferably organic and if possible, raw), which you leave at room temperature overnight.
Add 1-3 teaspoons of this super probiotic to your pet's food 1-2 times daily for overall improved GI defenses (most of your pet's immunologic health is located in her GI tract, so a healthy gut = a healthy pet!).
8. Pepitas (Raw Pumpkin Seeds)
Pepitas, or raw pumpkin seeds, are a rich source of minerals, vitamin K, and phytosterols. They also contain L-tryptophan and are a good source of zinc, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Research suggests pumpkin seeds can prevent calcium oxalate kidney stones, reduce inflammation caused by arthritis, and support prostate health
Fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to your pet's well-being. If you supplement your pet's diet with fish, I suggest you use sardines packed in water. Sardines don't live long enough to store toxins in their bodies, and they're a terrific source of omega-3s.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants, and are also high in vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes with purple flesh have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may lower the risk from heavy metals and oxygen radicals