Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

Ask A Vet: Should I Be Feeding My Dog “Superfoods”?

| Published on February 29, 2016

There are certain foods that contain compounds that have shown benefit to living systems. The media has coined the phrase “super foods” and there is a lot of talk about them. Restaurant chains are even adding in superfood sections to their menus. These foods are thought to help in the management of certain disease processes like osteoarthritis, cancer and brain aging. Some of these compounds may even have a role in immunity against infectious disease and improving skin and hair coat. Here is a run down of some things that might be beneficial for your dog.


Flax seed/Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Dogs with osteoarthritis were able to be effectively managed with lower doses of prescription anti-inflammatories when they received concurrent dosing with dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids.Flax seeds are a source of omega 3 and while there is proof that omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation,2 there is little guidance about the absorption of these from foods. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fish oils and other seeds also. Find a source that is convenient for you and palatable for your dog.

Coconut Oil/Medium Chain Fatty Acids

Coconut has medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) whose properties and metabolism are different from the more dangerous fats of animal origin. Medium-chain fatty acids appear to have positive effects rather than harmful ones. 2 Not much work has been done on how much coconut oil is most effective, so use common sense and moderation until we know more. Remember, there are calories in oils so account for the additional intake in your dog’s daily allotment to avoid obesity.


Tumeric is a spice that contains curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to have many beneficial effects from anti-viral activity to anti-inflammatory action. 3, 4 Some have suggested that it shows improved cognition and delays brain aging. 5 It is readily available and comes in powder form that is easily blended into canine rations. The future may bring more specific recommendations and/or supplements that are proven to be more bioavailable.


Oxidative damage has been linked to many disease conditions and may contribute to the effects of aging. Blueberries are known source of antioxidants 7 and may have some anti-viral effects.8 Even though we do not know exactly how much blueberry is the best to maximize the positive effects, they are palatable to most dogs and low in calories.

All of the foods and additives above may be a good idea to give your dog, but use moderation and know that we do not have specific guidelines. As we learn more, we will have better-defined daily allowances and preparations that maximize oral absorption.


  1. Review of dietary supplements for the management of osteoarthritis indogs in studies from 2004 to 2014 J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Feb;39(1):1-15. doi: 10.1111/jvp.12251. Epub 2015 Jul 23..Comblain F, Serisier S, Barthelemy N, Balligand M, Henrotin Y1.
  2. Flaxseed oil supplementation alters the expression of inflammatory-related genes in dogs. Genet Mol Res. 2014 Jul 24;13(3):5322-32. doi: 10.4238/2014.July.24.11 Purushothaman D, Brown WY, Vanselow BA, Quinn K, Wu SB.
  3. Antistress and antioxidant effects of virgin coconut oil in vivo Exp Ther Med. 2015 Jan;9(1):39-42. Epub 2014 Nov 3.Yeap SK, Beh BK, Ali NM, Yusof HM, Ho WY, Koh SP, Alitheen NB, Long K.
  4. Structure-activity relationship analysis ofcurcumin analogues on anti-influenza virus activity. FEBS J. 2013 Nov;280(22):5829-40. doi: 10.1111/febs.12503. Epub 2013 Sep 23. Ou JL, Mizushina Y, Wang SY, Chuang DY, Nadar M, Hsu WL.
  5. Review of dietary supplements for the management of osteoarthritis indogs in studies from 2004 to 2014. J Vet Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Feb;39(1):1-15. doi: 10.1111/jvp.12251. Epub 2015 Jul 23. Comblain F, Serisier S, Barthelemy N, Balligand M, Henrotin Y.
  6. A combination cocktail improves spatial attention in a canine model of human aging and Alzheimer’s disease J Alzheimers Dis.2012;32(4):1029-42. doi: 10.3233/JAD-2012-120937..Head E, Murphey HL, Dowling AL, McCarty KL, Bethel SR, Nitz JA, Pleiss M, Vanrooyen J, Grossheim M, Smiley JR,Murphy MP, Beckett TL, Pagani D, Bresch F, Hendrix C.
  7. Total antioxidant power in sleddogs supplemented with blueberries and the comparison of blood parameters associated with exercise.Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2006 Apr;143(4):429-34. Epub 2006 Mar 6. Dunlap KL, Reynolds AJ, Duffy LK.
  8. Relationship between polyphenol content and anti-influenza viral effects of berries. J Sci Food Agric. 2013 Jul;93(9):2239-41. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6031. Epub 2013 Jan 28. Sekizawa H, Ikuta K, Mizuta K, Takechi S, Suzutani T.


Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog