Antioxidants are some vitamins, minerals, and other chemical compounds that can stop cellular damage caused by free radicals. This page takes a close look at different antioxidants and their specific functions. It also discusses how dogs can benefit from these supplements. Some natural antioxidant supplements are recommended.
You most likely have heard of "antioxidants" and are perhaps using some antioxidants as daily supplements for optimal health.
We use antioxidants to slow the aging process by protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants can also support immune function, and reduce the risk of chronic degenerative conditions such as cancer, arthritis, and heart disease.
Like people, dogs can also benefit from antioxidants. More and more veterinarians are paying attention to the health benefits that antioxidants have on our dogs and very often they recommend supplementation of antioxidants for dogs.
This page takes a look at the following topics:
Free radicals are molecules, atoms, or ions with unpaired electrons. Normally, in an atom (or molecule), electrons come in pairs and they spin in opposite directions to balance each other.
Free radicals, with their electrons missing, react with other molecules in the cells (such as protein or DNA) and rob them of an electron in order to restore stability. This process is called oxidation and can ultimately cause damage to a cell.
Oxidation occurs inside each and every cell of all living animals and humans because free radicals are produced as a result of normal bodily processes such as the release of adrenaline.
Environmental factors (such as nuclear radiation, x-rays, UV rays from the sun, tobacco smoke, food additives, chemical pollutants such as pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides) can also cause free radicals to release.
It is believed that oxidation and the release of free radical can cause cell damages resulting in numerous diseases and speed up the aging process.
Antioxidants are some vitamins, minerals, enzymes or other chemical compounds that can stop the process of oxidation.
The antioxidant works by giving up one of its electrons to the free radical, thereby neutralizing it and preventing it from attacking DNA or causing lipids to oxidize. Once it gives up an electron, the antioxidant loses its antioxidizing function and has to be replaced by other antioxidants.
Vitamins A, C, and E, Carotenoids, Selenium, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) are all powerful antioxidants.
The best sources of antioxidants from natural foods include fresh fruits (e.g. berries - blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, wolfberries; pomegranates), vegetables (e.g. dark green leafy vegetables; broccoli; beets; green beans; peas; carrots), and whole grains.
The answer is a definite "Yes" for the following two main reasons:
All dogs can benefit from supplements of antioxidants. In particular, aging dogs and those with the following health problems should definitely take some kind of antioxidants for dogs:
Although all antioxidants are beneficial to dogs, some specific antioxidants are particularly effective in assisting in the treatment of certain dog health problems.
It is therefore helpful to understand more about the various specific functions of antioxidants so that you are in a better position to choose an appropriate supplement for your dog's specific needs.
Besides the above vitamins and chemical compounds that can be supplemented to your dog as antioxidants, certain herbs that contain antioxidants and can also be used for your dog's health.
Common herbal antioxidants for dogs include:
Herbs such as turmeric, oregano, thyme, ginger, parsley, and celery seed are powerful antioxidants that contain lots of vitamins. These herbs are convenient to use because they can easily be given to your dog by sprinkling them on your dog's food.
Another herb that is a powerful antioxidant is milk thistle.
The major constituent of milk thistle, Silymarin, is an effective antioxidant especially for the liver. It blocks the entrance of harmful toxins and helps to remove these toxins from liver cells. It can also regenerate injured liver cells by inducing new DNA and RNA synthesis. Therefore, milk thistle is particular helpful for dogs with liver problems.
Green tea contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. Green tea has been found to be helpful in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. (Be sure to use decaffeinated green tea as caffeine is harmful for dogs.)
Mushrooms, in particular Reishi, Shiitake, and Maitake mushrooms, have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for a long time.
They contain high levels of polysaccharides which have been proven to be able to boost the immune system. These mushrooms also have antioxidant properties and can be used for cancer prevention and liver support.
Here are some excellent natural products of antioxidants for dogs that can be used to help keep your fur baby healthy:
This formula contains vitamins A, C, E, selenium, alfalfa and more - all powerful antioxidants for your dog.