For the last 10 years, the word antioxidant has become part of our vocabulary. Pet Antioxidants are widely recognized as one of the most important weapons in the battle against pet disease. All the physiological processes in pets and people require oxygen, which provides us with energy.
How Antioxidants Benefit Pet’s Health
Unfortunately the byproducts of burning oxygen, which are similar to the sparks given off by a fire, are also produced in your pet’s body. These little sparks are commonly known as free radicals, and are the major cause of aging and degenerative disease in both people and pets.
Pet Antioxidants counteract the damaging effects of these everyday physiological processes in your pet’s body, by combating and eliminating these free radicals.
Dogs & Antioxidants: What are Pet Antioxidants?
Pet Antioxidants are the vitamins, minerals and enzymes that play a vital role in preventing the onset of chronic pet diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia and canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (Alzheimer’s disease) along with canine arthritis, allergies and cataracts in dogs and cats.
Your pet’s body undergoes oxidativ stress when the capability of these antioxidants is overwhelmed by the number of free radicals being produced. Free radicals are continually formed in the body as part of normal biological processes, but other factors can contribute to an overload, such as pesticides, antibiotics, cigarette smoke, pollution, alcohol and foods that are fried at high temperatures or burnt.
Cats & Antioxidants
It’s believed that a human cell is exposed to roughly 100,000 free radical hits per second. The role of antioxidants is to ‘mop up’ free radicals. Natural, nutrient-rich foods and certain supplements, including Vitamin E and Co-enzyme Q10, have pet antioxidant benefits. They help to fight pet aging by attacking free radicals that would normally attack DNA, proteins and other body tissues in your pet. Carnosine, which is a natural amino acid, also counteracts the harmful effects of sugar on body proteins, while repairing any existing damage.
Pet Antioxidants help to keep your pet’s immune system strong. Glucosamine and MSM are powerful, naturally-occurring antioxidants in your pet’s body. Unfortunately, their levels peak as early as the age of two in pets and at the age of ten in people, after which time they decline by roughly 15 percent each decade. That’s why Glucosamine and MSM supplements are also routinely recommended by doctors and veterinarians to help patients recover from musculoskeletal injuries. Their anti-inflammatory properties provide significant relief from the debilitating effects of human and pet arthritis.
It’s also important to increase protein, fish oils, seeds, nuts, herbs, fruits and vegetables in your pet’s diet, and to limit sugar intake. Feeding nutritious pet foods can reduce the overall risk of heart, kidney and liver disease as well as diabetes, arthritis, cataracts, allergies and a range of other age-related pet diseases experienced by dogs and cats.
A team of nutritionists recently published a study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, outlining a number of common foods that have high levels of antioxidant qualities, using ORAC, or the oxygen radical absorbance capacity.
Top Antioxidant Rich Food Sources for Pets & People
- Small red beans (or Mexican red bean – dried)
- Blueberries (wild and cultivated)
- Red kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Red delicious apples
- Granny Smith apples
- Black plums
- Russet potatoes (cooked)
- Black beans (dried)
- Gala apples
- Barley grasses
As a nutritional researcher and practicing integrative veterinarian, I recommend feeding dogs and cats as balanced a diet as possible so they can benefit from a wide range of antioxidant nutrients. For example, raspberries and strawberries contain ellagitannin, a substance that helps prevent the growth of cancerous cells. Pecans contain copper and potassium. Pinto and kidney beans contain high amount of folate, or vitamin B9, which lowers homocysteine levels, implicated in heart disease. Blueberries contain anthocyanin’s, shown to protect brain cells.
Most antioxidant rich foods lose some of their antioxidant properties when processed, the exception being tomatoes. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is actually enhanced by cooking.
But pet diets alone does not appear to be sufficient to maintain your dog or cat’s ideal antioxidant levels, so adding balanced, comprehensive, USA sourced, pet nutritional supplements to your dog and cat’s diet daily is vital.