As is true of humans, the brain and the body of our canines are closely intertwined. It is rarely possible for one to be healthy when the other is not. More recently in veterinary medicine, we are focusing on a pet’s mental well-being rather than just their physical health, as our understanding of how the two are closely connected grows.
We all know that what we eat can affect our mood as well as our long-term health. Of course, the same holds true for dogs. Feeding your pet one of our Superfood diets can go a long way towards keeping both their mind and body in good shape.
What is a superfood?
‘Superfood’ is a term that has been coined relatively recently and can be used to describe a range of foods that offer multiple benefits and are seen as being generally healthy. When we talk about a ‘superfood’, we mean one that is nutritionally dense and offers a variety of benefits.
What superfoods would you recommend for my furry friend?
Let’s take a look at some of our favourite ingredients here at Pooch & Mutt:
Spinach. Naturally packed with vitamins A,C and E, spinach is like a leafy multi-vitamin! It is also rich in iron and calcium and can naturally reduce inflammation. While we shouldn’t believe everything we see in cartoons, it seems Popeye was on to something when he said:
"I'm strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"
Cranberries. Cranberries are especially beneficial for urinary tract health and are often advised for those suffering with chronic UTIs and cystitis. Research has also shown that they can bolster the immune system and ward off infection. These sweet, red berries are packed with antioxidants and pack a real punch considering their small size.
Seaweed. While seaweed may look like soggy weeds, it is both tasty and packed full of healthy nutrients. The omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are joint protective and can also help to protect the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing abnormal heart rhythms (1).
Pomegranate. Brimming with vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, these exotic fruits are delicious and good for your pooch. Vitamin C is a vital antioxidant that may help to prevent cognitive decline as dogs get older (2). The abundant polyphenols contained within pomegranates are known to be beneficial for those with neurodegenerative disease.
Sweet Potato. Did you know that while potato doesn’t count as one of your five a day, sweet potato does? This is because it is nutrient dense and is rich in vitamins and minerals as well as fibre, to help keep your dog regular. The slow-releasing carbohydrates provide energy that will last all day long.
Can diet affect mood?
While this is hard to quantify, especially in pets, recent studies in humans indicate that diet is strongly linked to mood. In fact, researchers in the UK established that a healthy diet is directly linked to less depression and stress (3). It makes sense that a body and brain that is properly fuelled will function better. Similarly, supporting your dog’s general health will generally lead to an improved quality of life.
How else can I ensure my dog is content?
We all want our beloved pets to be happy and fulfilled. Diet is just one aspect that will affect how they are feeling. Other areas to focus on will include:
Exercise. A dog that is tuckered out in the evening can better relax and wind down. Try to provide your dog with all of the exercise they need on a daily basis.
Mental Stimulation. Exercise alone is not enough for most, who enjoy having their minds tickled. Puzzles and interactive toys as well as obstacle courses are a fun way to keep your pupper happy and engaged.
Praise and rewards. We all like to be complemented when we’re doing well. Remind your furry friend when you’re happy with their behaviour and watch their tail wag.
Keeping it fresh. Just like us, your dog can get bored with the same routine. Try to rotate their toys and bring them on new and exciting walking routes.
Making meal time fun. Things like food puzzles can help spice things up. Pop some of our new treats (like our Turkey & Hemp Calming Probiotic Meaty Treats) inside a feeding ball or hide them around the home and garden for a fun game of ‘find the treat’.
Freeman LM. Beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. Journal of Small Animal Practice 2010; 51: 462-470
AKC Vitamin Recommendations
Food and Mental Health: Relationship between Food and Perceived Stress and Depressive Symptoms among University Students in the United Kingdom. Walid El Ansari, Adetunji, Oskrochi.