a cute dog eyeing off dinner

As pet parents, we always strive to give our furry friends the best possible nutrition to keep them healthy and happy. You've probably heard of the term "nutraceuticals" but might not know exactly what they are or why they are important. Nutraceuticals are bioactive compounds and natural supplements that offer both nutritional and medicinal benefits.

Believe it or not, functional foods can work just as well as medication, but without those nasty side effects. The power of nutraceuticals has caught the attention of researchers, who are now proving what we've always known: food is the ultimate healthcare!

Now, here's the thing - there are tons of functional foods to choose from. You don't want to end up with a boring bowl of supplements that your dog wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole. After all, those fancy foods won't do any good if your pup won't eat them! So, let’s dive into all the whats, whys and hows.

a bowl of raw, nutraceutical dense foods with pair of paws

What are they?

Nutraceuticals are biologically active compounds found in foods that offer health benefits beyond basic nutrition. In a nutshell, they are foods that have medicinal properties, cool right? They can be found in plant and animal-based foods and are typically consumed as part of a daily diet. Nutraceuticals often contain concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that research has shown to be beneficial to overall health and well-being.

Examples of nutraceuticals include natural ingredients such as turmeric, green tea, ginger, blueberries, omegas, garlic, and many more, which can be found in various dog food and treat formulas. These natural ingredients provide added health benefits in small doses and can help support various areas of your pet's health, such as joint mobility, healthy digestion, and immune support.

To make it simple, we’ve created a table of the most well-known nutraceuticals explaining their function and best sources, so finding the perfect addition to your pet’s diet is a piece of cake!



Where to find

 Bioflavonoids (incl. Quercetin)  They modify the body’s immune response to allergens, carcinogens and viruses. Powerful antioxidants that are used in treatments for diabetes, blood vessel repair, heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, lupus, asthma, and allergies Red or sweet peppers, strawberries, citrus fruit, broccoli, brussels sprouts, tropical fruits, garlic, spinach, teas. 
 Co-enzyme 10 – Q10  Vitamin-like antioxidant produced by the liver – helps protect against chronic diseases, diabetes, cancer.  Animal Liver, heart kidney
 Omega 6 (linoleic acid It has a very important function in the body’s immune response. They also help with blood clotting and cell growth. Lack of omega 6 in the diet can cause skin and coat issues.   Grains, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, eggs.
 Omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid – DHA/EPA)  Primary function is to balance inflammation in the body. They also provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.  Salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, flaxseed, oysters, anchovies, chia seeds, walnuts
 Digestive Enzymes  They help in food digestion and metabolism, also help with immune function, reduce inflammation, remove toxins hormone regulation and slow ageing.  Ginger, kefir, bananas, avocados, honey
 Molybdenum  Essential trace element, it is a co-factor for enzymes, and it may assist in the treatment and prevention of cancer.  Liver, chicken, eggs, carrots, banana, yoghurt, soybeans, peas
 Carotenoids (beta-carotene/lycopene)  They have antioxidant properties and strengthen the immune system. Betacarotene is a unique carotenoid that can be converted to vitamin A in the dog’s system.  Bright-coloured fruits and vegetables (carrots, spinach, kale, orange and red capsicum, watermelon, broccoli, tomatoes.
 Inositol (Vitamin B8)  It is a naturally occurring isomer of glucose, it is useful for removing fats from the liver Grass-fed meat, eggs, citrus fruit, beans, corn, brown rice, wheat bran. 
 Isoflavones  Phytoestrogen, thought to inhibit tumour growth, assist in cancer treatment and also work as antioxidants  Soybeans, lentils, peas and red clover
 Polyphenols  Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and microbiome-sculpting properties. Are known for helping with acute diarrhoea. Berries, citrus, apples, whole greens, green tea, grapes, peanuts, green tea, coffee. 
 Curcumin  Is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It also helps protect the immune system. May also support joint health and mobility  Turmeric
 Chlorophyl  Cleanses blood cells, replenishes red blood cells, help with wound healing, prevents cancer, protect against damage from aflatoxins (cancer-causing moulds found in mouldy grains and legumes  Green veggies - spinach, wheatgrass, chlorella, spirulina, parsley, kale, broccoli, arugula alfalfa, etc.
 Garlic  Rich source of sulphur compounds that are believed to play a role in disease treatment and prevention. Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticancer properties. May also protect against cardiovascular disease. Is also a liver enhancer as it helps break down waste before entering the bloodstream.  Garlic
 Lignans  Assist in hormonal balance and may protect against hormone-related cancers, as well as blood loss and cardiovascular diseases.  Found in plants – flaxseed is the richest source. Also found in broccoli, beans, apricot, cauliflower and avocado.
 Silica  Can improve bone density, the health of skin, nails teeth and gum. It also helps with the repair and maintenance of collagen and connective tissue, and plays a role in bone and wound healing.  Bones, celery, green beans, beets, carrots and bananas
 Vanadium  This trace mineral is thought to have the potential to control blood sugar. Also showed to protect against colon cancer.  Bones, cabbage, garlic, radish, mushrooms, eggs, and parsley
 Spirulina  Unique microscopic algae with a perfect spiral shape. It holds the highest concentration of nutrients compared to any other food, plant, grain, or herb. It contains phytonutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides, and sulfolipids that boost the immune system and protect against infection, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. Plus, Spirulina's natural carotenoid antioxidants promote cellular health and may lower the risk of cancer. It also contains cleansing chlorophyll, which helps detoxify the body from pollutants. This algae also helps the gut microbiota stimulating ‘good’ bacteria over the ‘bad’.  Spirulina is often sold in powder form, but it’s also available in capsules.
 Prebiotics Feed the good bacteria present in the digestive tract; they help grow, restore, and maintain healthy gut flora. That helps with nutrient absorption and the immune system.  Green bananas, mushrooms, chicory root, garlic, dandelion greens, leek. 
Probiotics   Live bacteria strains that live in the digestive tract. They promote overall gut health, help digest food and absorb nutrients, help produce Vitamin K and B, produce serotonin and influence mood, reduce gut pH, help produce enzymes, and support the immune system. Whey based beverages (goat, sheep, cow), kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables. 

a happy dog jumping through waves with a shiny coat and healthy skin

Why are nutraceuticals important for dogs?

After having a look at that table, it’s a no-brainer. Nutraceuticals can help support various areas of your dog’s health, including maintaining joint health, promoting healthy skin and coat, and supporting healthy digestion. Since nutraceuticals are made up of naturally occurring ingredients, they can help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system without any side effects.

One of the most significant benefits of nutraceuticals is their ability to support joint health. Nutraceuticals such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) can help relieve inflammation and promote healthy joints. When consumed in natural form, nutraceuticals can alleviate inflammation without the side effects and potential long-term damage associated with prescription medications.

a raw diet containing high quality, fresh ingredients enhacing bioavalability of nutraceuticals

Why choosing a diet that contains nutraceuticals is essential?

The best way to ensure that your fur baby is getting the right balance of nutraceuticals in their diet is to choose a dog food that contains these important compounds in its natural form. Natural sources of nutraceuticals are bioavailable, so it means that your pupper will be able to digest and absorb all the goodness they can provide.

All our raw dog food recipes are packed with amazing nutraceutical combinations that are all natural and easily absorbed by your furry friend, these meals are the perfect choice for their health and happiness.

There are countless more nutraceuticals waiting to be explored, just like in human health. What's good and medicinal for you can also benefit your dog, although their form may differ. It's incredible how these compounds work their wonders in similar ways.

So why wait? Dive into the world of nutraceuticals and give your pooch the best in nourishment.

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1. Scott, D. (2022) Fats for Dogs: The Ultimate Guide, Dogs Naturally. Available at: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/omega-3-for-dogs-the-ultimate-guide/ (Accessed: 17 July 2023).
2. Scott, D. (2022a) 5 functional foods every dog needs, Dogs Naturally. Available at: https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/functional-foods-every-dog-needs/ (Accessed: 17 July 2023).
3. Scott, D. (2019) Raw food Nutritionist Specialist Course - Nutraceuticals lesson, Dogs Naturally Pro. Available at: https://pro.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/video/7-nutraceuticals/ (Accessed: 17 July 2023).