Loving our dogs means wanting to learn the best ways to care for and feed them. Today’s pup parenting word of the day is: bioavailability. Say it with us three times to memorize: bioavailability… bioavailability… bioavailability.

You’ve got it! And such nice enunciation, too! But what is bioavailability, exactly?

We often talk about digestibility, which is the amount of nutrients your pupadoodle absorbs from intestine-to-bloodstream. But before all that comes bioavailability — the amount of nutrients that are even available for your dog’s intestines to do its thing. 

Bioavailability is what differentiates plain old dog food from a dog SUPERfood. That’s because the nutrients in many dog foods aren’t bioavailable and can’t be used by your pup’s body AT ALL. Wondering how that might be possible? Read on! 

Cooking Method Matters

High quality ingredients packed with nutrients can make a dog food into a dog SUPERfood. But quality ingredients alone don't do the trick. Cooking methods also matter (a lot) because the time and temperature of a cooking process heavily influences the bioavailability of the food. 

Most traditional dog foods, including kibble and canned food, are cooked at high, high temps and heavily processed. As a result, kibble and canned food have low bioavailability — meaning that pups who eat them are not getting to actually absorb the nutrients you’d expect from the ingredients touted on the label.

I know! It's a real bummer if you’ve been buying pricey kibble made with grass fed beef. But, the reality is that even filet mignon won’t do your doggy any favors if it’s cooked on high heat and heavily processed the way kibble is. All of the nutritional benefits (not to mention the yummy flavor) get stripped right out. 

Good news, though! Some dog food brands are gently cooked to retain flavor, fragrance, AND high bioavailability. A Pup Above uses a unique, low-temperature cooking method called sous-vide. And yes, it's kind of gourmet. But the real reason to do it is health.

Gentle sous-vide cooking retains up to 40% more nutrients than high-heat cooking methods. It makes meat tender and easy to digest, and retains all that tasty flavor. In other words, A Pup Above makes meal time = healthy, happy, nutrient-rich, high-bioavailability time!

The Problem with Heavy Processing

It’s one thing to know, like, intellectually, that bioavailability is a good thing. But what happens if you feed your pup heavily-processed foods like a lot of people do? It’s not pretty, my friend.  

The high carbohydrate, low fiber levels, and additives in heavily processed foods like kibble may be formulated in ways that disturb the microbiome, the trillions of diverse bacteria lining our intestines and colon. When gut inflammation occurs that’s when your pup gets super tooty from not-so-super foody. Aside from stinky farts, gut irritation can produce allergy-like symptoms such as itchy, dry skin and a thin, dull coat.

Heavily-processed food is hard on skin and coat health because skin and fur cell production is directly related to — you guessed it — bioavailability. Specifically, it’s connected to the absorption of essential amino acids from protein. If proteins are not bioavailable, your pup will have a harder time absorbing amino acids critical to happy skin and a silky coat. 

Fixing what ails ‘em

If your pup is already looking a little lackluster, and you’re thinking the poor bioavailability of your current dog food may be the culprit, don’t stress. There are several ways to heal and maintain your furry friend’s digestive tract. 

An excellent first step to healing is feeding gently-cooked foods like A Pup Above. Gentle cooking means that bioavailability is abundant, fab ingredients retain significantly more nutrients, and food is easier to digest. There’s also the matter of delicious, natural meat gravy sous vide cooking creates — it's rich in collagen, amino acids, and offers happy hydration to your dog child.

You can also incorporate actual superfoods to your dog’s diet to enhance their gut health. Here’s a list of naturally yummy bits and bobs you can add to your dog’s food bowl to turn a dog superfood into a superDUPERfood:

Probiotics. Try adding kefir or sauerkraut and see if it sets tails to waggin’. These pup-friendly foods are laden with “good” bacteria that will take up residence in your pal’s gut and aid digestion.

Carrots. Whose mom always told them carrots would make their eyes shiny? Well, we should always listen to mom! Carrots give your dog phytonutrients, beta carotene, and Vitamins A, C, and K that help support eyesight and keep teeth clean. 

Fish and Coconut oil. Two words: fatty acids. Omega 3 and Omega 6 can help deter doggy allergies, reduce inflammation and arthritis, and make a furry coat super shiny.

Kale. Rich in calcium, iron, and Vitamins A, C, and K, kale is an awesome anti-inflammatory food that’s also great for your dog’s liver. You know those times when you’ve got half a bag of the green stuff that needs to get eaten? Share it with your furry friend!  

Sweet taters. All of that sweet potato beta carotene, manganese, and Vitamins A and C will support your pup’s immune system, aid digestion, and pretty-up that furry coat!

We sort of really are what we eat — and that goes for both dogs and their humans. Only you can make sure your dogpal gets a diet that lets you both live your very best life. 

But now that you’ve got the complete definition of bioavailability, feeding your dog the best superfoods  gets super fun and easy. 

Start with a fresh, meat-forward, gently cooked food like A Pup Above — then feel free to ladle on dog superfood extras, too. It’s a great way to tell your superpooch “I wuv you!”