Photo credit: Roberto Nickson | @rpnickson
Once you realize all of the amazing ways that superfoods benefit your own health, it’s only natural to want to share these benefits with your four-legged companions! Sure, it’s easy to just open up a pre-packaged bag of pet food, but that’s not to say that your pet’s “chow du jour” can’t be enhanced a little further!
Fortunately, you can share some of your favorite nutrient-packed superfoods with your pets, but it’s important to understand which ones are pet-friendly and serve their particular needs. Your personal nutritional needs are much different than those of your dog or cat, and some superfoods are actually toxic to them.
Cats are typically much pickier eaters than dogs and have more sensitive stomachs, so it’s usually easier to boost doggie kibble with superfoods than cat chow. Read on for seven delicious superfoods that are suitable for dogs—but be sure to check with your veterinarian before switching up your pet’s diet.
It might surprise you that seaweed and nori are very dog-friendly! Low-sodium, unflavored varieties provide healthy doses of protein, B vitamins, zinc, copper, and chlorophyll. An occasional meal boosted with seaweed is known to enhance immune function and metabolism in both dogs and humans. In fact, there's a host of scientific research that is published about the benefits of seaweed and ways that incorporating it into pet diets can benefit them just as much as humans!
Wheatgrass is another superfood that has health benefits for both humans and animals. With lots of iron, magnesium, selenium, and vitamins, wheatgrass is known to help dogs’ digestion and blood flow. Using a small amount of concentrated powder to mix into a dog’s food is an easy and accessible way to take advantage of wheatgrass’ benefits.
3. Chia Seeds
One of my all-time favorite superfoods is chia, so it makes me happy to know that I can share the love by giving chia seeds to my dog, too. Rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are great for dogs' coats, and can assist in easing joint inflammation, too. Sprinkle a few seeds on your dog’s meal for a boost of omega fatty acids, calcium, protein, fiber, and antioxidants.
Kale can be fed to most dogs, unless they suffer from kidney or bladder problems. Packed with vitamins A, E, C, and antioxidants, it’s a detoxifying superfood for both you and your dog. This fun recipe for dog-sized baked kale frittatas from The Bark Magazine is definitely worth a try!
Carrots make healthy, low-calorie “treat alternatives” for dogs, especially while training. Most dogs love their sweet and crunchy taste, and they’re packed with beta-carotene to support healthy eyes and prevent heart problems.
6. Goji Berries
Speaking of foods packed with beta-carotene, goji berries offer a nice boost for dogs, and are known to prevent the growth of cancer cells and lower cholesterol. Do note that although goji berries somewhat resemble red raisins, goji berries are generally safe for dogs, while raisins are not. You can give your pup a couple berries in place of processed treats to reward him for good behavior, or you can can soak the berries in water for a bit to make them more digestible.
It’s no secret that dogs love pumpkin, and the organic, sugar-free variety helps keep your dog’s digestive tract working well. Raw pumpkin seeds are called pepitas and make great treats for dogs. These tiny seeds are especially beneficial for older pups that have arthritis and joint inflammation.
Never Give These Superfoods to Pets
Not all superfoods are pet-friendly, and some can actually be toxic to your pet. Even if you swear by these nutritious superfoods in your own diet, keep them out of reach from your pets at all times.
• Macadamia nuts
Author Bio: Julie Morris is a Los Angeles-based superfood chef and New York Times best-selling author. Julie is also the founder of Luminberry, the world’s first online superfood cooking school, where she leads courses on how to use cutting-edge ingredients in recipes. Julie works as a recipe developer and consultant for various health companies, restaurants and media outlets, and has published five cookbooks that have sold around the globe.