You have likely heard the buzzworthy term "superfood" before but might not know exactly what makes a particular food item "super." In short, 'superfoods' are foods believed to be dense in healthy nutrients, making them a beneficial addition to anyone's diet. For humans, this can mean dark leafy greens that are high in antioxidants or wild salmon with healthy fats, B vitamins, potassium, and selenium. Aside from the nutritional value, evidence shows superfoods are effective at treating specific medical issues in humans and pets! Although the term is mostly used when talking about human food, pets can benefit from superfoods too!
What Are the Building Blocks of Superfoods for Dogs and Cats?
Humans and pets are not the same (obviously!), which means each respective group will have a very different diet from the other. Because of this, certain superfoods are going to have distinct effects on pets. So what superfood nutrients do cats and dogs need?
Now this category needs to be at the top of your pet food priorities! Dogs only naturally produce 13 of the 23 essential amino acids that their bodies need, so the remainder must come from food. Cats also require a significant amount of protein, with a particular focus on taurine, another amino acid. Low quantities of taurine in your cat's diet may lead to heart conditions or abnormal development
2. Fatty Acid
These give your dog or cat healthy hair and skin, as well as the energy they need to live life to the fullest.
Fun fact: Cats specifically cannot create arachidonic acid - an essential fatty acid – but dogs can!
Who doesn't love carbs? When it comes to the carbohydrates your pet needs, we are talking about the fiber and starches that come from ancient grains and vegetables that keep their intestines in tip-top shape.
Aside from Vitamin C, which dogs produce naturally, most vitamins that humans enjoy should also be in your dog's diet. Dogs can convert many ingredients into things like Vitamin A and B, while cats may need the active, more direct form of these vitamins. Unlike dogs, cats cannot process vitamins the same way. While cats need many of the same nutrients as dogs, they should be fed higher quantities of these critical vitamins.
Superfoods for Dogs
While feeding your dog individual 'superfoods' can supply the vitamins they need, a more reliable way to keep your dog healthy is to ensure that their everyday dog food has superfood ingredients. This ensures their diet is balanced. Just like humans, eating different foods gives your pet's body a wide range of various nutrients. Here are some of the best superfoods for dogs:
High in antioxidants and flavor, blueberries help support your pet's urinary tract! These little fruits contain anthocyanins, an anti-inflammatory, and anthocyanins, which helps protect brain function. To top it all off they are high in fiber and low in sugar.
2. Bone Broth
Simmering animal bones make bone broth, a liquid topper full of nutrients such as collagen, which supports gut health, joint health, and more. Open Farm's bone broth is sourced from certified, sustainable farms to ensure the healthiest origins for your dog's meal.
Like humans, carrots help improve immune health, eye health, and skin health due to the beta-carotene found within these orange veggies. If your pup is not able to chew them raw, feel free to boil or steam them.
Tip: Carrots contain natural sugars which make them a healthy treat alternative!
4. Dark, Leafy Greens
Studies have shown that green leafy vegetables help reduce the risk of cancer in dogs by as much as 90%. But that isn't all. They are also high in fiber and multiple vitamins and minerals that dogs need daily!
Just like carrots, pumpkins are high in beta-carotene, as well as a slew of vitamins that are perfect for your doggie's diet. Just avoid pumpkin pie – leave that to the humans because it contains spices that are not good for dogs, however good they may taste…
Turmeric is a vibrant orange spice that comes from the turmeric plant. It contains curcumin, which is a natural antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal ingredient that can also fight cancer, improve stomach function, and much more.
Superfoods for Cats
Superfoods for cats can neatly fit into four categories - berries, vegetables, meats, and fish. You'll notice these are still very similar to dogs and humans - that's because all living things need a lot of the same nutrients, just in different quantities. Cat food that includes superfoods help you take the trouble out of guessing what quantity is best for them. Here is what we recommend having in your kitties diet to help boost their nutrient intake:
Chocked-full of vitamin C and antioxidants, blueberries help decrease cancer risk and heart problems in your cat.
Fish, specifically oily fish, is excellent for cats. We recommend salmon, anchovies, and sardines which contain Omega-3 fatty acids, instead of tuna, which has mercury, a compound that is very harmful when consumed frequently.
3. Lean pork, beef, or chicken
Lean disease-fighting meats without seasonings and sauces are healthy and great for cats!
Tip: Avoid fats such as butter and oil as much as possible because cats don't tolerate these fats well.
Just like with dogs, carrots provide vitamins and beta-carotene which when broken down turns into Vitamin A. Give your cat carrots within moderation because their digestion tract can have a more challenging time processing this veggie.
Pumpkin is often used as a supplement for cats with digestive issues, because this fall favorite is full of antioxidants and fiber.
Feeding Your Pet Superfoods
Since we as humans can control our own diets, we know when we are full, when we are hungry, and when we need to eat certain things in moderation. However, since you as a pet owner are responsible for feeding your buddy, they can't tell you when they've had enough blueberries for their daily health quota!
Ensuring your pet gets the right superfoods in the appropriate quantities can be hard. For many, the easy solution is not to individually feed your pet every superfood but instead to find a pet food that already contains the right ingredients and portion sizes.
At Open Farm, we focus on providing pet owners with the tools needed to give their pets a well balanced diet. This is why our pet foods incorporate multiple powerful superfoods into every bite, from the pumpkin found in dry dog foods to the turmeric found in our cat-friendly kefir; we've got it all! Interested in learning more about what Open Farm products contain superfoods? Head to our website and type one of the superfoods we mentioned in this blog into the search bar!
Written by: Emily Balogh