Rowan Sanderson, the Chief Nutritional Officer at leading pet wellness brand, Bella & Duke, reveals three key foods that help to support your dogs and their mental wellbeing.
With the understanding that the food we are feeding our pets every day plays a hugely important role in their mental wellbeing, Rowan explores the nutrients found within these foods and why they can help.
1. Bone broth
A key part of your dog’s mental wellbeing is about looking after their gut – essentially good gut health leads to good mental health. You may have heard of leaky gut in humans? Well, it exists in dogs too and sadly a leaky gut can lead to a whole host of health issues for our four-legged friends. Bone broth is something that can help prevent and heal leaky gut as well as lower inflammation leading to a happier and healthier dog. This can even help protect their brains because it will help lower inflammation there too if necessary.
Bone broth has quickly emerged as a highly recommended route in the pet world in accessing those important nutrients that contribute to our pet’s mental wellbeing, which explains why it’s becoming a more common and popular choice amongst pet owners today. With lots of different choices available, I tend to recommend grass fed beef is the best option unless your dog has a beef sensitivity. I’d also recommend experimenting with chicken, lamb or a novel protein such as venison, of course ensuring you’ve found a high-quality source to purchase from. I’m sure you’ll find a flavour that your dog really enjoys – leading to a very happy dog!
Bone broth is loaded with many of the same nutrients as a marrow bone, including glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acid, hyaluronic acid and gelatin. The glucosamine is from a family of miracle molecules called glycosaminoglycans which contribute to improved joints, improved immune health and correct brain function which all contribute to a dog’s mental health. The gelatin is what helps seal and heal leaky gut in combination with those other incredible components already mentioned.
What’s even better is we’ve now developed supplements in the pet world to be taken alongside healthy food options to help support our pet’s health even further – just as we do so with humans. For example, FidoSpore, which is the first pet probiotic supplement for cats and dogs that is clinically proven to support digestive health, reduce leaky gut and reduce inflammation – just as the three foods mentioned do, therefore supporting our pets overall mental wellbeing.
You may be surprised to hear that blueberries are another great food for your dog’s mental health.
Blueberries are loaded with benefits, some of which are only just coming to light in recent research. Firstly, they are loaded with those all-important free radical scavenging antioxidants – but it is the polyphenols found in them however that bring a unique take on pet health.
Polyphenols selectively grow beneficial gut bacteria, especially bifido bacteria which protect your dog from unwanted nasties entering their bloodstream. They can also play a role in leading to lower levels of inflammation in the gut and emerging research leads us to believe that polyphenols can be linked to stimulating new cell growth, even in the brain! The anthocyanins that are rich in blueberries, are associated with improved eyesight.
Remember though, your dog is a carnivore and will struggle to digest excess fruit sugars due to poor insulin control, so it is important to note to always keep any fruit within 5% of their total calorie requirement.
3. Marrow bone
Not just simply great for your canine companion’s dental health, a big juicy, meaty marrow bone is ideal for their mental wellbeing too. Key nutrients for your dog that are likely to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of your dogs are glucosamine, glycine, and collagen – which can all be found in marrow bone. These prized nutrients – and the very practice of extracting them – will bring your dog a stress-busting reprieve from modern living.
My dog, Kismet, smiles when she sees one proffered – and joyfully spins around in circles before sitting down to an afternoon gnaw! It is encoded in your dog’s DNA to find these nutrient-rich, natural treats satisfying and relaxing. Exhibiting natural behaviour is one of the five freedoms of animals as natural behaviour is a cornerstone to mental wellbeing and happiness.
Calcium, phosphorous are in abundance in any bones you feed, but it’s also the collagen, glycine and glucosamine in marrow bones that can really help their mental health. All these elements in marrow bone work wonders in sealing and healing leaky gut therefore improving both your dog’s mental and physical wellbeing.
As a note of caution, always be sure to supervise your dog with a bone and ensure it is size appropriate for your dog. Importantly, please remember that bones should never be fed cooked as they can become brittle and break off into hard sharp shards.
It is incredibly important to make sure you are sourcing high quality food for your dog or cat to ensure you are strengthening their health and wellbeing as much as possible.