By Nancy Cope
All dogs can benefit from antioxidants in their diet but dogs who have allergies or skin problems, immune system problems, eye problems, disorders associated with aging, and any illnesses linked to the respiratory and cardiovascular systems can derive even greater benefits.
Oxidation is a natural process that occurs in living things. The same way a slice of apple turns brown, cells in your body react and become oxidized. It is normal for cells to die and, in some cases, be replaced. However, some cells become damaged and turn into “free radicals.” Free radicals kill other cells and damage the cell’s DNA. When DNA becomes damaged, the cell can grow too fast or abnormally. This can lead to cancer or other health problems.
Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals in foods that counteract free radicals and stop their damage to cells. Antioxidants are easily available in many common foods such as berries, fruits, and vegetables. Or you can give your dog antioxidant supplements in the form of tablets. Some dog foods contain antioxidants, although they are not usually present in high enough quantities to make a big difference to your dog’s health.
Which antioxidants does your dog need?
Some of the common antioxidants that your dog needs include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, the mineral selenium, and alpha lipoic acid.
Vitamin A is found in high amounts in liver, carrots, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. It is good for the eyesight, teeth and bone development, and the immune system, among other things.
Vitamin C is commonly found in oranges but most dogs don’t like oranges. However, vitamin C is also found in broccoli, strawberries, bananas, and various kinds of animal liver. It is present in many fruits and vegetables. You can also give your dog vitamin C supplements in the form of ester C which is gentler on your dog’s stomach than plain vitamin C. Vitamin C helps dogs with chronic diseases, skin problems, and infections.
Vitamin E is found in many oils such as corn oil and soybean oil. It is useful in restricting free radicals. It is said to be helpful for dogs with skin problems, heart disease, and aging dogs.
Selenium is often given to dogs who are taking corticosteroids because the use of these drugs can deplete selenium in the dog’s body. A lack of selenium can lead to bad skin, heart disease, and aging. You should be careful about giving your dog supplementation with selenium, however, as overdosing can be toxic.
Alpha lipoic acid is found in kidney, heart, liver, spinach, broccoli, and yeast extract. However, it is hard for the body to obtain it from these sources and it is only present in small quantities. It is usually given to dogs in supplement form from synthetic sources. It is a good source of antioxidants for your dog’s entire body, including his brain, and it is especially good for older dogs.
Antioxidants have many powerful benefits for dogs.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.