Top Ten Superfoods for Pets

  1. Bone Broth

Bone broth is an incredible gut health supplement made by slowly simmering bones, cartilage and joints for 16 to 24 hours. You can find it in most health shops or make one at home. Always go for organic and grass-fed.

Bone broth contains natural collagen that your pet’s gut microbes will love! Rich in amino acids (30% glycine) and glutathione (the second most powerful antioxidant after melatonin), bone broth is easily digestible and helps to restore the gut lining. Combined with a high fibre and anti-inflammatory diet, bone broth can help create the perfect terrain for your pet’s microbes to thrive in and support the immune system.

2. Turmeric

Curcumin, the flavonoid in the spice turmeric, offers many spectacular therapeutic properties, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral and neurotrophic[1].

Turmeric can help cleanse the colon of parasites, remove toxins, reduce intestinal permeability, and treat inflammatory bowel disease. And the good news is that dogs don’t seem to have a problem with turmeric’s intense flavour and aromas, so adding it to their food or giving it to them as a dietary supplement is easy.

At BUDDYPET, we recommend Milly — a delicious blend of turmeric and hemp seed oil — for dogs that need an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant boost to support and improve their health.

3. Hemp Seed

Hemp seeds are also an excellent source of essential fatty acids, typically comprising 35% of the seed. One tablespoon of hemp seed oil typically contains 14 grams of fat, of which only 1 gram is saturated. This low saturated fat content is another great benefit of using hemp seed oil instead of animal fats. Hemp seed oil is also one of the few natural sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a key anti-inflammatory fatty acid. Furthermore, the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in hemp seed oil is at a 3:1 level, ideal for a healthy diet.

Read Hemp Seed Oil Benefits for more information about this incredible superfood.

Another great advantage of hemp seeds is that they contain a significant amount of soluble and insoluble fibre. The carbohydrate content of the seed (about 27%) is primarily fibre; as such, hemp seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre to promote healthy digestion.

If you are looking for a prebiotic-rich food supplement, try BUDDYPET Cooper, a blend of Tasmanian hemp seed protein and chickpea flour. It is a wonderful addition to your pet’s diet to support their gut health.

4. Turkey Tail

A mushroom that grows on logs of wood, Turkey Tail helps boost the immune system and provides valuable plant fibre. Turkey Tail contains beta-glucan — a type of soluble fibre that can directly interact with and activate immune cells responsible for destroying foreign invaders like viruses and parasites. Additionally, Turkey Tail can help reduce inflammation in the gut. Do not feed your dog Turkey Tail mushroom in its raw form — this can cause liver damage and major stomach upset. Use the supplement form (capsules or powder).

5. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an excellent digestive tonic and health elixir! The digestive enzymes amylase and lipase in aloe vera help metabolise sugars, starches and fats. Aloe vera also stimulates mucus secretions to protect and strengthen the lining of the digestive tract, soothing irritation and reducing inflammation.

6. Kefir

The health benefits of kefir are now widely established not only for humans but also for pets. Traditionally, kefir is a fermented dairy product made from cow’s or goat’s milk. Unlike other dairy products, kefir is low in lactose, which makes it suitable even for lactose-intolerant pets.

Kefir is an excellent source of calcium, protein, vitamins B12 and B2, and essential minerals like magnesium and potassium, but it is the probiotics that kefir is famous and most beneficial for. Kefir has over 60 strains of bacteria that are very good for your pet’s gut health. Probiotics feed the good microbes in the gut, thereby promoting gut health and immunity to viruses, parasites and infections.

Probiotics will often be prescribed to pets that go through a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics will wipe out close to 90% of the good gut microbes, causing absolute havoc on your pet’s GI. But probiotics will help to repopulate and rebuild the good microbial environment after the antibiotic treatment.

Probiotics are also good, if not essential, for ageing dogs. As the microbial biodiversity declines with age, reducing your pet’s ability to absorb all of the nutrients and maintain immune resilience, it might be a good idea to support your pet’s microbiome with a natural probiotic like kefir.

More on the role of probiotics in digestive health, please read our article Ten Ways to Improve Your Dog’s Health Naturally.

You can add kefir as a small meal topper or have them lick it off a spoon. Always choose unsweetened, unflavoured and ideally made with organic, grass-fed cow’s milk.

7. Root vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes

Carrots are full of beta-carotene, a terpenoid responsible for carrots’ beautiful red-orange colour. Why do we care about beta-carotene? Because beta-carotene becomes vitamin A (converted in the liver), and vitamin A is what your furry friend needs for good eye vision, skin and coat health and general immune support. Fibre is another wonderful benefit of carrots to promote digestive health. Dogs can eat carrots raw, steamed or boiled. Carrot puree can make a delicious meal topper.

Like carrots, sweet potato is also rich in fibre and beta-carotene. Hence it is a great source of vitamin A precursor that helps support digestive health, immunity, skin and coat, and eye health. You can roast, grill or mash it and add it as a puree to your dog’s regular meals.

Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds are also packed with beta-carotene as well as vitamins C and E (antioxidant), potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron — all these provide a powerful nutrient combo to support your pet’s immunity, gut and skin and coat health.

8. Blueberries

Blueberries are a delicious and healthy treat or snack for dogs and cats. Blueberry’s beautiful purple-blue colour comes from anthocyanidins, powerful antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress that causes chronic inflammation and premature ageing. Blueberries are also a great source of vitamin C, E (antioxidant), and fibre.

9. Kelp

Kelp, a type of seaweed, is packed with nutrients including amino acids (building blocks of protein), fibre, folic acid, chlorophyll, phytosterols and essential minerals — iron, zinc, copper, potassium and iodine. It is iodine, however, that kelp is particularly good for as iodine helps regulate the production of metabolic hormones. Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

If you want to add some kelp (or nori) as a topper to your meals to boost iodine, choose non-seasoned (no salt, pepper, chilli or garlic). Be sure to check with your vet before you add any kelp supplement, as too much iodine can lead to an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism).

10. Eggs

Hard-boiled, scrambled, or poached eggs can be a fantastic, nutritious treat when factored into your pet’s diet. Much better than any of those processed, dehydrated beef jerkies and biscuity chews that might taste good in the mouth but have little to none nutritional value. If your pet’s health is important to you, choose natural, unprocessed and nutritionally wholesome snacks and treats like eggs.

Eggs are one of the most wholesome and complete foods for humans and pets in terms of nutrient makeup: jam-packed with high-quality protein, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and all essential minerals, including rate selenium, and essential vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as collagen, chondroitin, glucosamine, and anti-inflammatory Omega-3 DHA. Eggs are also highly digestible and make an excellent snack for recovering pets or those with stomach upset.

Choose eggs from organic, free range and grass-fed chickens. As eggs are calorie dense (70 calories per egg), you have to be aware of the extra calories you are feeding. Large dogs can safely have one egg a day; small to mid-size dogs should be limited to half an egg per day.

Please talk to your vet before adding new foods or supplements to your pet’s diet, especially if they are on a vet specialist diet or medications.

[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29438458/

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Dr. Ailsa Rutherford

Dr. Ailsa Rutherford

Senior practicing veterinarian. Member of the Australia and New Zealand College of Veterinary Surgeons in Emergency. Head of Animal Health at Buddy Pet P/L.