Having a canine in your life is a big commitment. Your fur baby demands a lot of time, attention, and care. It’s not uncommon for people to compare having a dog to having a child.
After all, if there are children in the household your pooch often acts just like one of them – enjoying a romp in the yard or a wrestle on the living room rug with them. They love each other. On the other hand, if your dog lives just with adults, it can be just like having an only child!
Since your dog is such a valued family member, one of your goals is to maintain your dog’s health. You want to make sure they have a proper diet with the nutrients they need to support a healthy immune system. If you’re like a lot of pet owners, you may have considered supplements and wondered about the benefits of antioxidants for dogs.
We hear so much about the importance of antioxidants for people to fight free radicals, reduce inflammation, support cognitive function, slow the aging process, and more. Therefore, it stands to reason that responsible pet parents are interested in them for their canine companions.
Remember that our fur babies are exposed to more environmental toxins than we are. They get up close and personal with sidewalks, grass, and all manner of flowers and shrubs so they’re more apt to come into contact with toxic chemicals.
What are Antioxidants?
Although you’re likely familiar with the term antioxidants, you may not know exactly what these substances are and what they do. First off, it’s important to understand oxidation. This is a chemical process that occurs naturally.
If you’ve ever cut up an apple and noticed it begin to turn brown after a little while, that’s oxidation. Another example is the rust you see on cars.
This chemical reaction is critical for health. When Poppy or Patches eats, this is the way their body breaks the dog food down to use nutrients.
Oxidation is involved in the healthy growth of cells as well. In addition, it produces a by product − molecules called ‘free radicals’ that a dog’s immune system needs to assist to ward off viruses. Antioxidants, on the other hand, work to counteract oxidation processes.
So, why would anyone want to stop this natural occurrence? Basically, it’s because sometimes too much of an otherwise good thing can be harmful to your pet. When there’s an excess of free radicals in the body cell damage can occur.
How can My Dog Benefit From Antioxidants?
To begin with, antioxidants help to restore balance in your dog’s body and maintain a healthy immunity. Their importance can be seen in how they function on a molecular level to create this equilibrium.
Free radicals are missing an electron and will try to steal electrons from healthy cell membranes, essential proteins in the body and even from a dog’s DNA. Antioxidants have the ability to donate electrons to free radicals and prevent further tissue damage.
When you think about the potential destruction that free radicals can inflict, it won’t surprise you that they can be implicated in everything from heart disease to skin allergies. A diet that includes antioxidants can help with these and other illnesses such as arthritis and cancer, and can support eye health and respiratory function.
The benefits of antioxidants don’t stop there. They have been shown to assist cognitive function in several ways – from slowing mental decline in older canines to helping mitigate age-related obsessive behaviors.
With the health benefits of antioxidants, you’ll see a more active pup with a shiny coat, healthy skin, and an immune system better equipped to fight disease and illness. And, if your search for antioxidants in pet foods comes up short, you can often add these mineral, vitamin and herbal supplements yourself.
What are the Best Antioxidants for Dogs?
Some of the best antioxidants for dogs that help reduce free radicals, will be familiar to you as they’re also good for humans. Before you begin to incorporate antioxidants into your pet’s diet, consider what stage of life they’re in.
Match their age with the particular antioxidants that will have the most health benefits. Following is what to provide your pooch at the puppy stage, when they reach maturity and during their senior years.
Antioxidants for Puppies
Puppies are still building their immunity and getting the required vaccinations to support their health. At this time in their lives, certain antioxidants can give young pups a helpful boost. Here are the ones to use:
Beta Carotene– This supplement assists blood cells and can increase levels of antibodies in the blood. It may help increase the effectiveness of vaccines.
Selenium– Selenium is known to mitigate heart disease, assist cognitive function, lessen asthma symptoms and support the thyroid and lower cancer risk.
Vitamin C– This vitamin can alleviate joint pain, increase energy, reduce gum inflammation and make wounds heal faster.
Vitamin E– Vitamin E promotes the health of blood vessels and the immune system.
Antioxidants for Adult Dogs
The best antioxidants for adult canines are those that help keep their muscles moving and have inflammatory-reducing properties. Consider these:
Polyphenols – These natural antioxidants guard against many different diseases developing. Included are cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and disorders of the cardiovascular system.
Vitamin C– This vitamin offers the same benefit for adult pets as for pups; that is, helping with painful joints, inflamed gums, and wounds.
Vitamin E – Again, as with pups, this vitamin supports the immune system and blood vessels.
Antioxidants for Senior Dogs
As our furry friends age, understandably, their immunity needs more assistance. Here are the antioxidants that can benefit senior dogs.
Beta Carotene – Beta Carotene is useful to help increase the number of antibodies in the blood stream, something that can assist immunity in older dogs.
Polyphenols – These antioxidants help protect your dog from developing serious illness from cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart/lung disease. As your canine ages, they need more assistance to combat these ailments.
Vitamin C – This vitamin’s inflammation-reducing properties and the joint protection is offers are the reason to include it in your older dog’s diet.
Vitamin E – The added protection that Vitamin E can offer for blood vessels and the immune system, is valuable for senior dogs.
Daily Supplements for Antioxidants
Certainly, vitamin A, E and C, B vitamins, beta carotene, and other antioxidants, that can offer some protection against damaging free radicals, may already be present in pet foods you purchase for your pooch. Having said that, even if you search for very high-quality dog food, it’s unlikely to contain natural antioxidants.
The supplements added will usually be synthetic products and they’re not going to be the best source for antioxidants. That’s because your pooch will have a harder time trying to absorb synthetic matter. There is, of course, something you can do about that.
Rather than relying on antioxidants in pet foods − or improvising by feeding your pet green beans, carrots, and other fruits and vegetables − try adding antioxidant supplements to dog food. Read below for four of the best dog supplements.
New Zealand is where green-lipped mussels are harvested. These sea creatures contain an abundance of antioxidants and have helpful amino acids, enzymes, fatty acids, and vitamins.
Another substance they have is glycosaminoglycans (GAGS). This has been demonstrated to reduce inflammation, and support joint, cartilage, skin and cardiovascular health. If your pet is battling arthritis, this supplement may assist to relieve their discomfort.
Turkey Tail Mushrooms
Turkey tail mushrooms are another source of antioxidants. While many types of fungi are poisonous, a great number have healing properties that are useful for humans and animals. Mushrooms, like the turkey tail, have naturally occurring sugars called beta-glucans that are found in cell membranes of plants and animals.
This particular mushroom can function as a probiotic, producing essential vitamins and fatty acids to reduce inflammation, improve gut health, and boost the immunity.
Chondroitin is a natural antioxidant that’s found in small amounts in chicken and in egg shell membrane. This material has a reputation for assisting with mobility by lubricating stiff joints and strengthening bones. Giving your dog chondroitin as a supplement can also help their body to repair damaged cartilage and prevent the breakdown of cartilage in the first place.
Omega fatty acids
Here’s a supplement with antioxidant qualities that you’ve probably heard a lot about over the years. These acids have long been touted as a critical component of a healthy diet for humans to fight free radicals.
Our bodies, and those of our beloved pets, aren’t able to produce these essential fats naturally. Therefore, they need to be ingested in food or taken as a supplement. They are mainly found in plants, fish and chicken eggs.
These antioxidant rich acids support pets throughout their lifespan at all development stages. They are useful for a host of applications. This encompasses aiding brain growth and eye development in puppies, slowing cognitive decline in senor dogs and helping to treat chronic canine kidney disease and arthritis in dogs.
Plus, when combined with the amino acid, tryptophan, these products can also help regulate sleep cycles and moods for puppies.
What to Look for in a Supplement
When you’re looking for a location to buy a supplement for Austin or Alice, the number one rule is to take your time. There is so much to choose from in the pet store and online that it can be quite confusing.
You might see a supplement that’s marketed as good for energy production, another that focuses on boosting the digestive system, or one that promises to clear up skin problems. Do your homework and search for a brand that has the properties to fight free radicals in the amounts you want.
If there’s something on the ingredient list that you don’t understand, like superoxide dismutase, do a little more research or ask your veterinarian for advice. You want to be very sure that whatever you spend your hard-earned cash on will be helpful to your canine friend and not cause a tummy upset or other sickness.
Try to locate a supplement that’s geared to supporting optimal health at your dog’s stage of life. The package label should describe nutrients as ‘bioactive’ or ‘bioavailable’. This tells you that your pet’s body will be able to absorb them properly.
A good all-round supplement will have natural ingredients and a blend of antioxidants, prebiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Generally, they can be given in capsule form or added directly to kibble.
Once you’ve found what you think will benefit your pet, keep a close eye on them after you start adding it to their diet. If your dog vomits or becomes lethargic, stop using the supplement. It could be that they’re allergic to an ingredient. This might be something to discuss further with your veterinarian.
Our Final Thoughts
Introducing antioxidant rich supplements into your dog’s diet is an excellent way to help protect them from environmental toxins, reduce the proliferation of free radicals in your pup’s body, combat various diseases, and assist immune system activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
What antioxidants are good for dogs?
Search for supplements with antioxidants such as vitamins like C and E, beta carotene, selenium, and polyphenols.
What antioxidants can you use for dogs?
You can give your dog daily supplements with antioxidants like green-lipped mussels, turkey tail mushrooms, chondroitin, and omega fatty acids.
Why are antioxidants important for dogs?
Dogs are more prone to be exposed to environmental toxins such as pesticides, and antioxidants can help reduce the production of harmful free radicals.