Here at Veterinarious we talk a lot about doing everything we can to help our dogs live the longest, healthiest, happiest lives possible. And providing a wealth of healthy food and supplements plays a big part in that. In our opinion, some of the most important things you can give on a regular basis are antioxidants for dogs.
Without a doubt, antioxidants are essential for overall health, both for our dogs and for ourselves. A diet without them is seriously lacking when it comes to health and wellness and the prevention of disease.
Knowing what antioxidants do, and the role they play in the body in fighting disease, is important. So too is knowing the various sources of antioxidants for dogs that exist – and that list is long!
So, what are antioxidants exactly, and how can you easily add them to your dog’s diet?
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are “charged” molecules, meaning they can make normal cells change. They’re compounds that the body naturally produces. When they’re at safe levels, they play an important role in the body. For example, immune cells use free radicals to fight infections.
However, a delicate balance is required…
When the levels of free radicals in the body outnumber the antioxidants, this leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress damages your dog’s DNA (and your own), leading to disease. Oxidative stress has been linked to everything from cancer and heart disease to allergies and joint issues. It’s a big problem.
And certain lifestyle and environmental factors can increase the body’s production of free radicals, including:
- air pollution
- cigarette smoke
- use of chemical flea and tick meds
- chemical-based pesticides
The only way to reduce the proliferation of these free radicals is to combat them with antioxidants.
Antioxidants for Dogs
It’s really easy to add antioxidants to your dog’s diet. Both antioxidant-rich foods and antioxidant-rich supplements provide a variety of ways to do this. Both will help fight free radicals and the damage they can do.
These are some of our favorite sources of antioxidants for dogs.
Antioxidants from Food
Some of the richest food sources are things you may already feed on a regular basis. You probably already have several of these in your fridge or pantry right now!
- Kale and spinach
- Red cabbage
- Sweet potatoes
- Eggshell membranes
Because this list is so long, you can easily switch them up to add variety to your dog’s dinner. Feed a handful of blueberries on Monday, a tablespoon of pure pumpkin on Wednesday, some chopped spinach on Friday, and some raspberries on Sunday.
Vegetables and fruit also contain beneficial enzymes, phytonutrients, plus many other valuable vitamins and minerals!
How much? Because these are foods, you don’t have to worry too much about amounts. Just stick to no more than 10% of your dog’s diet being made up of fruits and veggies.
There are also several antioxidant-rich supplements on the market.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that occurs naturally in certain algae, specifically red algae. It belongs to a group of chemicals called carotenoids. It is actually what gives salmon, trout, lobster, shrimp, and other seafood their pink color. And it’s also why flamingos are pink – because they eat the food that eats the astaxanthin! It has also been studied for its positive impacts on brain health, immune health, even skin health!
2. Green Lipped Muscles
Named for its green edges, the green-lipped mussel is a shellfish native to New Zealand. These sea creatures contain an abundance of antioxidants and also have helpful amino acids, enzymes, omega fatty acids, and vitamins. Omega fatty acids in particular have long been celebrated as a critical component of a healthy diet for humans to fight free radicals.
Marine phytoplankton, also known as microalgae, are tiny, microscopic plants that form the base of many different food chains in the ocean. In a balanced ecosystem, phytoplankton provide food for many, many sea creatures – from microscopic zooplankton to massive whales. They’re a rich, rich source of omegas – again, a celebrated antioxidant that boost free radical defence. What’s even better is that they’re a whole food source and are incredibly bioavailable (so your body absorbs them really well).
4. Medicinal Mushrooms
Several varieties of medicinal mushrooms are quite high in antioxidants. Turkey tail, chaga, and lion’s mane are all really good. In fact, chaga is a powerhouse that gives almost all other antioxidants a run for its money. These mushrooms have naturally occurring sugars called beta-glucans that are found in cell membranes of plants and animals. The antioxidant properties are joined by many other properties, making medicinal mushrooms a great addition to any supplement regime.
Perhaps best well known as a powerful joint supplement, chondroitin is a natural antioxidant that’s found in animal cartilage and in eggshell membrane. Talk about double duty! It’s good for the joints because it helps lubricate stiff joints and strengthen bones. You’ll often see it paired with glucosamine because of those joint-protecting properties.
There are many, many ways that we can help promote good health in our animals. Antioxidants for dogs are one of the most important things to start feeding now. The protection they offer is essential to overall health. And of course, don’t forget to eat your own blueberries! You need antioxidants too!
The Veterinarious team is made up of pet owners, pet lovers, and pet experts from around the globe! We’ve banded together to create a community of like-minded pet people to give you the latest research and health advice for your beloved beast!