Pets grow tired of eating the same old kibble day in and day out. Even if you choose a nutritious commercial food, cats and dogs can benefit from eating whole fruits and vegetables. As it turns out, a lot of the fresh produce in your fridge is not only safe for pets but beneficial to them, as well! Pets can even have many superfoods, which have earned their name due to being rich in nutrients.
Here are the top superfoods along with how they contribute to a healthy pet diet.
- Salmon: Salmon is one of the best animal proteins you could feed your cat or dog. This cold water fish is a key source of omega-3 fatty acids, which helps pets grow shiny coats. The fatty acids in salmon also contribute to healthy skin, and many vets prescribe them for pets who struggle with skin allergies. In addition to benefits for the skin, salmon is a good source of protein because it’s low in fat.
- Apples: Many people don’t realize cats and dogs can enjoy apples, too! And they should—apples are chockfull of soluble fiber to aid digestion. This fibrous fruit gives pets something sturdy to chew on, and the apple chunks help scrape away plaque for better dental health. In case you needed another reason to love apples, the superfood also happens to be packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent free radicals from damaging normal cells—a benefit that has anti-aging effects on the body.
- Blueberries: The only superfood that has more antioxidants than an apple is the blueberry. Small but mighty, blueberries contain high levels of antioxidants that lower inflammatory cytokines and reduce your pet’s risk of cancer. They also contain anthocyanins, a compound that aids in weight loss by limiting fat cells within the body. This tiny berry also has tons of fiber and makes a healthy treat due to its low sugar content.
- Watermelon: Watermelon is considered a pet-safe superfood for many reasons. True to its name, the fruit is a tasty way to keep your pet hydrated. Watermelon is also high in electrolytes like potassium and magnesium. The body depends on electrolytes to retain water. A healthy balance of water in the body supports proper kidney and liver function. In addition to hydrating your pet, watermelon is filled with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B and C.
- Bone broth: Bone broth is another great superfood that can boost your pet’s hydration. Owners can pour it over the pet’s regular food to sneak in some extra water. But more importantly, bone broth is known for its ability to build healthy joints. A protein called gelatin as well as compounds like glucosamine and chondroitin could potentially reverse joint degeneration in senior pets. The amino acids derived from cartilage and bone also have anti-inflammatory properties in your pet’s body.
- Carrots: Beta-carotene is the magic ingredient that makes carrots a superfood for cats and dogs. Not only is beta-carotene what gives carrots their orange color, but the compound is also famous for supporting the eyes, skin, coat and immune system. Similar to apples, carrots are both highly dense with fiber and make a sturdy treat that can clean your pet’s teeth. However, you may want to boil bite-sized carrot pieces for your feline friends so they’re easier to chew.
- Leafy greens: Humans enjoy kale and spinach, and these leafy greens sure are healthy for your pets, too! Leafy vegetables pack a punch with their long list of vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamin K, calcium, iron and antioxidants, to name a few. These phytonutrients come with numerous health benefits, including a significantly reduced risk of developing cancer later in life. The protection against cancer is linked to kale and spinach’s anti-inflammatory properties.
- Pumpkin: Any pet parent who’s remedied their fair share of tummy troubles is familiar with pumpkin’s ability to soothe digestive problems. The soluble fiber in pumpkin can either loosen or firm up stool depending on your pet’s symptoms. Much like carrots, pumpkins also have a high concentration of beta-carotene and support various systems throughout the body. Besides supporting gut health, this superfood is also known for providing antioxidants, calcium, iron and several vitamins.
Pets can enjoy many of the same superfoods that humans do. But unlike our four-legged friends, we can choose which foods become part of our diet. It’s important to make healthy choices both for ourselves and our furry companions. Feeding superfoods to your pet might motivate you to eat them, too. This way, people and their pets can indulge in a healthy treat together!