As a kid, the word superfood might have described your Batman-shaped chicken nuggets, but today this buzzword practically has pop star status in the news. Superfood was caught canoodling on the Amalfi coast with Beyoncé? Do tell!
And in the same special way that you shared Ryan Adam’s cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 album with your pooch, you can also share superfoods with him. Because those superfoods are just as super for your dog and his overall health. (Jury is still out on what that album did for him.) Here are 10 totally safe-to-share-with-doggy superfoods that are probably in your kitchen right now. And yes, you are going to be one of those people who gives superfoods to their dog. Just own it.
Quinoa. Fine, you’re a hipster cliché now, giving your dog quinoa, but this stuff is just as amazing for dogs as humans--a gluten-free starch that is rich in essential amino acids, protein and complex carbohydrates. This superfood is perfectly fine to let the dog lick off your plate and could be a good option to supplement his diet if he needs to drop a few pounds. Quinoa offers a lot of feeling-full-longer bang for the buck. Pro tip: we’re talking minimally-prepared quinoa here (water or broth and a pinch of salt), not some full-of-onions-and-gruyere recipe from the New York Times, though that does sound delicious.
Sardines. Long before you started pretending you didn’t like any of Justin Beiber’s music, you were already hearing about all the benefits of Omega-3’s. And just like you, me and probably Justin Beiber, your dog could probably use more of these magical fatty acids that improve skin and coat, reduce inflammation and boost immune system and brain functioning. If your time and budget doesn’t allow freshly prepared wild-caught fresh salmon for your dog three times a week, a simple tin of sardines is a healthy, affordable alternative that your dog will love. One fish a few times a week (don’t overdo) will make your dog’s system sing. Pro tip: opt for water-packed, salt-free sardines. Otherwise, all that added salt and fat will counteract the good you’re doing in the first place.
- Raw, local honey. This superfood is a virtual gold mine for dogs who suffer from allergies. Why? Because your local bees include trace amounts of local pollen in their honey batches, which when ingested by your dog, help combat allergies inoculation-style for your pooch. Plus, honey is rich in live enzymes, vitamins, and antibacterial properties aiding immune function and particularly digestion. One teaspoon a day for small dogs, a tablespoon for the biggies. Pro tip: raw and local are the keywords here, so skip the chain stores and opt for your local farmer’s market.
- Blueberries. One of few berries that are actually safe for dogs to eat, blueberries boast all sorts of benefits for dogs: antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C and phytochemicals. (Oh you boastful, boastful blueberries!) Perfect as an occasional treat, a small palmful is not only a superfood for your dog, but the berries are the ideal size for perfecting that place-the-treat-on-the-dog’s-nose party trick. Win/win. Pro tip: dogs love frozen blueberries for a cold, crunchy treat.
- Pumpkin puree. Here’s a reason to be obsessed with pumpkin more than just during October and November when every possible human food is laced with it: pumpkin puree is practically miraculous when it comes to your dog’s digestive system. This high fiber, low fat superfood is loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. Pumpkin puree is the go-to home remedy for constipation, diarrhea and even accidental table-scrap hangovers. Served with a side of regret, of course. Pro tip: depending on the size of your dog, mix a small to large dollop of puree with dry food. Think of it in terms of a human-to-guacamole-ratio and you’ll nail the portion size.
- Chia seeds. These little buggers are kind of ridic: plant-based Omega-3’s, antioxidants, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, molybdenum (yes, that’s a real word), niacin and zinc. Why the hell we spent twenty years turning them into gag gifts to grow in dorm rooms instead of eating them is beyond us, but whatever. Pro tip: sprinkle a spoonful onto wet or dry food, or stir it into some of that luscious pumpkin or kefir.
- Kefir. This euro-chic superfood is sort of like runny yogurt (it’s basically fermented milk), but with super power probiotics that are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to get healthy bacteria into your pet. A spoonful with your dog’s meal is perfection. Pro tip: go full-blown Martha Stewart and make this shiz yourself. It’s actually quite simple.
- Sunflower oil. This oil pressed from sunflower seeds features a great balance of fatty acids (including Omega-6), not to mention vitamin E for a healthy skin and coat, and various anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy capacities. Pro tip: no need to serve straight up sunflower oil shooters to your dog, but if you’re baking homemade dog biscuits for Fido’s birthday, opt for this oil over vegetable or canola.
- Kale. There’s a reason why kale is the most popular kid at the superfood table. This cruciferous leafy green is so good for you (and your dog), it’s getting invited to all the recipes. Not only does it aid liver function and anti-inflammation, it is Zuckerberg-level RICH in vitamins K, A and C, iron and antioxidants. Plus, when mixed with other foods, it tends to take on their flavor, rather than fight for all the attention. Pro tip: add 1-3 finely chopped tablespoons of kale to your dog’s food daily. Sprinkle it with a little water and microwave it for 10-20 seconds to wilt it slightly if your dog is suspicious of it raw.
- Garlic. You already know that garlic keeps vampires away (#TeamJacob), but it can keep fleas, ticks and even ear infections away from your dog as well. Aiding good bacteria in the gut, garlic is also antifungal, antibacterial, antiparasitic, anti-inflammatory, and probably even anti-terrorism. Garlic is a badass. Pro tip: you can safely give dogs a 1/2 clove per ten pounds of body weight each day, chopped or grated. Two cloves maximum per day for a large dog is a good guideline. Be extra careful though, more than this can be quite toxic.
And now a word from Common Sense: As with any new food introduced to your dog, start with a small portion to monitor any adverse allergic reaction (read: swelling, vomiting, diarrhea or, heaven forbid, all of the above).