Recently, I was trying to come up with a new dog cookie recipe for our farm store. For our Barking Dog Organic Farm 100% organic dog cookies, I like to use our own natural ingredients where I can, preferably ones I can grow right here on the farm. In the off season I have to find other suppliers, but at least we can always use our own fresh eggs year-round!
That got me to thinking about “superfoods” as ingredients. I was once offered the opportunity to review some dog treats who used those as their basis. I thought that seemed like a good idea. As it turns out, not only can and do we grow some of those superfoods on our farm, we’re already using many in our recipes, and I am currently feeding a lot of these nutrient rich foods to Luke.
What are Superfoods?
Superfoods are highly nutritious foods that are packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and most are low in calories. They are a great way to provide extra health benefits to your dog, whether you feed them as treats, add them to their meals, or look for them on your dog food ingredients list. Everything on the superfoods for dogs lists provide the same benefits to humans as well!
Each list I found had a few different things, so we decided to narrow it down to ingredients I either already use in our dog cookies, or that I am adding to Luke’s meals to give him that nutrient boost. We’re putting them in order of our favorites!
Luke’s 10 Favorite Superfoods for Dogs
- Eggs. This one goes without saying for us, since we get our own laid fresh daily! Eggs give dogs a good protein boost, plus they contain vitamins and fatty acids that can benefit skin and coat. Luke gets a fresh, raw egg every other day on his breakfast. Cooked is just as good too! Personally, I would only feed them raw if they were farm fresh, not from the grocery store.
- Bananas. These come in at #2 because they are such a favorite of Luke’s. He shares one with his Dadz every morning. Bananas contain fiber, amino acids, electrolytes, Vitamin C, and potassium. Super food indeed!
- Blueberries. We have our own blueberry bushes, and that’s where I got the idea to make our Barkin’ Blueberry & Banana Dog Biscuits. These sweet berries contain fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that can ward off cancer. Blueberries can help boost cognitive function in your dog as well.
- Pumpkin. Our first dog cookies for sale were pumpkin based, because we had grown and cooked our own right here on the farm. That’s my preference but when they’re not available fresh, we use organic pure pumpkin puree (there should be no other ingredients). Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat, and aids good digestion. Luke gets a spoonful on his breakfast every other day, and even our cat Samantha likes it!
- Apples. This fruit is widely available fresh in New England in the fall! Apple picking is an autumn tradition around here. Apples are high in fiber, antioxidants, and Vitamins A and C. Fresh, raw apple is great for cleaning your dogs’ teeth! Just be sure to remove the core and seeds, as too many seeds can be harmful.
- Coconut Oil. We use coconut oil in many of our dog treat recipes, it’s my oil of choice. Coconut oil can lead to a healthy, shiny, coat and aids brain function. Luke also gets a small spoonful of coconut oil on occasion – he loves it! He loves to lick the spoon after I’ve mixed it into our cookie dough.
- Carrots. Carrots are better digested when cooked, but I love to give Luke a raw carrot stick to munch on, it helps to clean his teeth. Carrots are high in Vitamin A, fiber, antioxidants, and that all-important beta-carotene that benefits eye health for all of us.
- Broccoli. Along with cabbage, this is one of Luke’s favorite vegetables that he’ll eat either raw or cooked. Broccoli contains lutein, potassium, fiber, and calcium. It aids eye, skin, and heart health, and it’s anti-inflammatory properties can benefit joints and fight cancer. I gave our golden retriever broccoli a lot when she was on her special cancer diet.
- Kale. I normally only feed kale when it’s in season, preferably from our own garden. Kale is high in Vitamins A, K, & C. It contains essential minerals like iron, calcium, antioxidants, and provides many of the same benefits as broccoli.
- Yogurt. Luke gets a spoonful of Greek yogurt (plain only!!) every other morning. It is high in protein, calcium, healthy fats, and probiotics. It can help with ear and skin infections. It does contain lactose, however, so if your dog is sensitive to that, be careful it doesn’t bother their digestion.
No matter what you feed your dog, from kibble to fresh food, you can add these to their diet to help keep them active and healthy. As with anything, go slow when adding new foods to your dog’s diet, start with just a little bit, to be sure they agree with them and that none cause any digestive issues. Check with your veterinarian if there is anything you are unsure of, especially if your dog has any health concerns.
Sometimes they’ll need to be mixed in with your dog’s food in order to get them to eat it. For example, Luke used to take blueberries from me by hand, but lately he hasn’t wanted them. But when I mix them in with his meal? Every single one is gone. But when I used to give them to our angel beagle Cricket, she would pick them out and put them on the floor! Then Luke would eat them. Cricket never was one for fruits and veggies, but if I mixed fruit with some yogurt and made frozen treats, she loved them!
Luke is for the most part not a picky dog at all, but with some dogs you simply need to get more creative!
Do you give your dogs any superfoods? Are they on our list?