We all want our dogs to live long and healthy lives. The only bad thing about our furry companions is that they do not live long enough. While we cannot extend a dog’s lifespan to match our own, there are some foods that, when added to a dog’s diet, can aid in their wellbeing. A dog that is in good condition, both physically and mentally, is more likely to live a full and long life.
Whether you are wanting to support your dog’s health or are looking to aid in the recuperation of a particular symptom, there are some great natural foods that can be used to provide your dog with additional nutrients.
Pumpkin for Dogs
When you can get your hands on this fall vegetable, it is a great addition to your dog’s diet. Pumpkin is an all-round good supplement. The health benefits range from regulating blood pressure to enhancing muscle strength.
Pumpkin is low in calories but rich in nutrients. It contains Vitamin A which promotes strong eye health, Vitamin C which boosts the immune system, and Zinc which, combined with the high water content, encourages silky smooth coats and hydrated skin.
Also high in potassium, pumpkin has the amazing ability to relieve both constipation and diarrhea. But that does not mean it should only be eaten when your dog is suffering from either. Including pumpkin as a regular part of your dog’s diet will maintain a healthy metabolism and a good digestive system.
Feeding Guide for Pumpkin
Feed in small quantities.
Suggested: 15g pumpkin for 5kg of bodyweight per day.
There are many homemade pumpkin treat recipes using both fresh and canned pumpkin, or you can simply add cooked pumpkin to your dog’s dinner.
Dogs love Sardines
Sardines are awesome food for your dog. They are one of only a handful of animal food sources that can be eaten whole, making them rich in several nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
Sardines have a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids which have numerous health benefits. The polyunsaturated fats support joints as your dog ages and promote a shiny, smooth coat. They also reduce inflammation or irritation to the skin, especially with allergies, and can improve cognitive function via a particular nutrient – DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid).
Sardines also contain Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D for maintaining bone health, are packed with proteins that are vital for life and calcium to keep nails strong. Topping your dog’s dinner bowl with a few sardines can go a long way to keeping them healthy and supple.
Feeding Guide for Sardines
Sardines are nutrient-dense but calorie-dense too.
Suggested: 2 sardines per 5kg of body weight weekly.
Due to their calorie content, sardines should be included in your dog’s diet intermittently and be counted as part of your dog’s daily calorie allowance.
Blueberries Fro-yo to Treat your Dogs
Whilst many fruits can be harmful to your dog – grapes being a big No-No! – blueberries are a tasty supplement that provides antioxidants to protect against harmful substances that are created when the body uses oxygen. Blueberries carry the highest level of antioxidants of any fruit.
Blueberries contain vitamins C and K which boost the immune system and fiber to keep your dog’s digestive tract on track. They are also known for reducing inflammation which can lessen arthritis pain and slow the brain’s aging process by minimizing cognitive changes and degradation.
What’s more, they are low in calories so they can be added to gut-friendly yogurts and frozen to make a tasty, cooling treat on a hot summer’s day. My only warning is that these small berries could be a choking hazard so think carefully about how you want to serve them up.
Feeding Guide for Blueberries
Avoid feeding loose and whole unless monitored.
Suggested: 3-5 berries per 5kg. Build up to this amount if seeing a change in stools.
A block of frozen blueberries is an awesome way to cool your dog down on hot days while also providing nutrients. Licking the frozen block cools them down internally, like panting.
Eggs are a superfood for Dogs
Eggs are an eggcellent source of proteins for your dog. Eggs contain all the nutrients required for growing a chicken and are therefore considered a “superfood”. Some dog owners are concerned about harmful enzymes eggs carry. Whilst this is true, as long as eggs are not served as a main staple of your dog’s diet, they are perfect for providing additional nutrients.
It is a great idea to feed your dog the whole egg, shells and all. The shells contain calcium, amongst other great minerals and vitamins, and can be cracked and fed along with the egg or you can use a blender to blend it down and sprinkle it over your dog’s food. None of this eggstraordinary supplement should go to waste.
Feeding Guide for Eggs
Start with 1 per week and build up to the suggested amount. Feed alongside a balanced diet.
Suggested: 1-3 per week for small dogs, 1-5 per week for medium/large dogs.
You can feed raw or cooked, but cooking will remove some nutritional value.
Health Benefits of Ginger & Tumeric
These two super spices are not just a great way to add some extra flavor up your dog’s dinner, they have marvelous health benefits. Ginger is the root of the plant that produces turmeric so it makes sense that they are both awesome supplements.
Both spices are anti-inflammatories; they help to ease an upset stomach and soothe indigestion. They are also active agents in preventing and slowing some cancers (since inflammation plays a role in cancer development).
Heartworm disease causes long-lasting damage to the heart and lungs of our dogs and might not always be easy to diagnose. A publication from the Journal of Helminthology wrote that during a study where dogs were given ginger, they saw a reduction in the microfilariae concentration – suggesting partial destruction of adult heartworms. If given regularly, ginger could be helping to prevent an undiagnosed heartworm problem from progressing.
Feeding Guide for Ginger & Tumeric
Both can be brought in capsules or tinctures. Follow the weight guidelines provided.
Suggested: if in fresh/dried powdered form; 1 gram per 5kgs every other day.
Ginger and turmeric are natural blood thinners and should be supplemented following consultation with your vet.
Coconut Oil is Awesome for Dogs
This is probably not a surprising addition to the list. In recent years, coconut oil has been the new ‘in’ thing. But did you know it was good for your dogs too? And, do you know why it has so many awesome health benefits?
Coconut oil is mainly saturated fat. Saturated fats are good for your dogs as they are the types of fats that can be broken down quickly and used to produce energy for the body rather than stored. However, even though they are good fats, coconut oil should be digested in moderation with a well-balanced diet otherwise it can lead to either diarrhea (short-term) or weight gain (long-term).
It is not only for eating! Coconut oil can be used directly on the skin to promote a healthy coat, reduce skin irritation, and heal wounds. I often use it on the paw pads of my greyhound to reduce hardness and corns from developing
Feeding Guide for Coconut Oil
Always opt for unrefined coconut oil with minimal processing.
Suggested: 5g per 5kgs of bodyweight. Build up to this introducing smaller amounts initially.
Coconut oil can be used as a diluting agent for other homeopathic medicines that could otherwise irritate when being applied directly.
All of the supplements discussed above and their serving suggestion are guidelines based on my experience and knowledge. As with all amendments to your dog’s diet, consult with your veterinarian before making changes. However, you might be surprised at what a difference these easy additions could have on your dog’s health and vitality.
Emma Bowdrey is an ISCP-trained Dog Trainer based in Prague, where she lives with her adopted greyhound, Swift. Emma has worked with dogs since gaining her qualification in Canine Behaviour & Psychology and now runs her own business. Emma uses positive reinforcement methods to make each hound a happy one.
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