Should be feeding your pets superfoods?
Superfoods are simply defined as a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and wellbeing. Good nutrition is not only important for providing essential carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals for recovery, growth and maintenance, but it may also promote health or help prevent chronic disease.
Eating foods that are packed with healthy nutrients, over a period of time, may slow or even prevent disease not only in us as humans, but also our pets. So what superfoods can you give to dogs and cats, and when might they be contraindicated?
Luckily, many of the superfoods we eat are both safe and beneficial to dogs and cats. Here are six you should be including in their diet:
Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, kale and Asian greens contain essential phytonutrients. These are naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants that may benefit health. Broccoli contains fibre, which supports large intestinal health plus B vitamins such as folate, and the phytochemical isothiocyanate, which has shown to have anticancer effects.
Berries Berries are loaded with phytochemicals and Blueberries contain high levels of the phytochemical anthocyanin, which has numerous beneficial actions including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer effects. Feed a small number daily either seasonal and fresh or frozen. Use as treats to replace low-value processed treats.
But take care if your dog or cat has diabetes and only feed small amounts. Other berries you can use include cranberries, which may protect from urinary tract infections, and goji berries, which are a yin tonic in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Turmeric Curcumin, which gives the spice its yellow colour is classified as a blood-moving herb and is used for its pain-relieving effects as well as helping treat gastrointestinal stasis and abdominal tumours. Turmeric has been shown to have multiple anti-inflammatory effects, as well as antioxidant and anticancer actions. It’s used as part of an integrative approach to treating joint disease, cancer and immune-mediated disease in dogs and cats.
Use only a small amount and beware that it may cause digestive upset in sensitive individuals (although it may also have a protective effect for dogs and cats with gastric ulcers). It’s not easily absorbed and is best combined either in your dog or cats meat or with a little fish oil or coconut oil.
Spirulina Also known as a supergreen food, it’s high in the pigment chlorophyll and phytonutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects, among others. It contains other nutrients, including essential fatty acids and B vitamins, and is high in readily absorbed protein. Begin with a small pinch of a good-quality supplement. An empirical dose for pets is one-quarter of a teaspoon per 5kg.
Omega-3s ALA (alpha-linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are all omega-3 essential fatty acids. ALA is found readily in plant sources such as seeds, nuts and vegetable oils but, unlike people, dogs can’t readily break it down to DHA and EPA.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are components of cell membranes. However, dogs and cats don’t generally require omega-6 supplementation in their diets.
Supplementation with omega-3 EFAs helps reduce inflammation, whereas over-supplementation with omega-6 EFAs may increase inflammation. Omega-3 EFAs have other benefits for pets, including nourishing the skin barrier, immune modulation, eye health, heart health and kidney health.
I cook extra vegetables for my dogs and also add a little of my PowerGreens to their meal. Plus they love almonds! The cats eat some of the veggies but not quite as much.
Try my Almond, Oat & Chia Dog Cookies. Even the cats love a little bite of these!