Antioxidants help support your pet’s immune system and support his overall health and wellness. They’re an essential part of his health, but do you know why? Here’s everything you need to know about antioxidants and why they’re key when it comes to pet health.
What Are Antioxidants?
Sure, ‘antioxidant’ is a buzzword you’ve likely heard lots about. That said, antioxidants aren’t just trendy ingredients or exotic fruits you should consider adding to your pet’s routine. They aren’t only found in supplements. And they aren’t tough to consume.
But if you’re still asking yourself, ‘what are antioxidants,’ here’s the simple explanation: antioxidants are compounds that fight free radicals and help mitigate oxidative stress on your pet’s behalf. That said, to understand why antioxidants are key to your pet’s health, it’s also important to understand free radicals, oxidative stress, and the role of toxins when it comes to your pet’s health.
Free Radicals and Antioxidants
Free radicals are a by-product of metabolism. They’re naturally created by your dog’s body when he consumes food and it’s converted into energy. But, they’re also caused by toxins. And the more toxins your pet’s exposed to, the more free radicals form in his body.
Free radicals react with other molecules in your pet’s body. Not to get too technical, but they’re molecules that have an uneven number of electrons. This means they’re unstable. And they’re constantly on the prowl, looking for other molecules to connect with.
When a free radical attaches itself to an antioxidant, it’s neutralized and can’t get into any trouble! When a free radical attaches itself to a toxin or other harmful compound, it can do some serious damage. And that’s exactly why it’s important to help your pet keep free radicals in check. Your doggo needs to consume enough antioxidants to neutralize the free radicals in his body, so they can’t cause harm.
What About Oxidative Stress?
Oxidation is a natural process in your pet’s body. It’s what causes your pet to age over time. But, when there are too many free radicals and too few antioxidants in your pet’s body, he gets stressed. Or rather, his body experiences oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause your pet to develop health issues and age prematurely, so it’s definitely something you want to help him avoid.
Watch Out For Toxins
As mentioned, toxins make free radicals, so it’s best to avoid them as much as possible. As a pet parent, you do everything you can to keep your pup safe. But, many toxins are unavoidable! They’re in the air, they’re in products we use, and they come from the sun. That said, there are some things you can do to limit your pet’s exposure to toxins:
- Product Watch: If you avoid using products in your kitchen because they may contain the harmful toxin BPA, take the same attitude when it comes to your pet. Check your dog’s bowl, his toys, and even his pre-packaged food to make sure none of it contains BPA or other harmful material. Studies show that some canned pet foods contain BPA, so do your research and avoid exposing your pet to toxins through the products you use.
- Sun Protection: Sure, we all need some sunshine to stay healthy, and that includes our pets. But, UV ray exposure can cause a host of issues for people and pets. Not to mention those rays are chock-full of toxins that can cause oxidative stress. So, when you spend time outdoors, protect your pet from prolonged sun exposure. Consider pet-safe sunscreen, especially if your pup’s got fair skin and a light-colored coat.
- Clean Air Is Key: Smog, smoke, and cigarettes are all cause for concern when it comes to people and pets. They’re air-borne toxins and too much exposure to them can lead to oxidative stress. If you’re concerned about air quality, consider an indoor air filter for your home, or decorate with pet-safe indoor plants.
- Skip the Pesticides: Pesticides and other chemicals are harmful to your pet! Look for produce and meat that’s pesticide-free to avoid free radical creation from these substances.
Why Antioxidants Are Important
Reducing your pet’s exposure to toxins as much a possible is a great way to prevent free radical development and oxidative stress. But, there’s no way to avoid free radicals altogether. And your pet’s best defense against them is…….eating antioxidant-rich food. Antioxidants help keep your pet healthy and his immune system healthy. Plus, they help protect against health issues down the road and premature aging. They make an excellent addition to his daily routine and can be an effective way form of preventative care. That said, some pets may benefit a little extra from an antioxidant boost.
If Our Pet Has Seasonal Allergies
If your pet deals with seasonal allergies, help out his immune system with antioxidants! He could use the support. When your pet’s having an allergic reaction, his immune system is hypersensitive to an allergen and it’s causing those uncomfortable symptoms. While he’s itching, sneezing, scratching, and clawing at his inflamed skin, adding extra antioxidants to his body can help.
If Your Pet Has Digestive Challenges
Did you know that up to 70% of your pet’s immune system lives in his gut? That’s right, the majority of his defenses live in the digestive tract. And this is exactly why it’s extra important to give them a helping hand if he has digestive issues. When his GI tract isn’t functioning correctly, it’s likely causing undue stress to his immune system too. Antioxidants help relieve some of that stress by neutralizing free radicals.
If Your Pet Has Any Other Health Concerns
Whether your pet’s experiencing occasional joint pain, heightened inflammatory responses, discomfort associated with normal daily activity, or another health concern, adding extra antioxidants to your pet’s routine may help. They fight free radicals, so your pet’s immune system can function at its best, and work to support a healthy inflammatory response, promote joint health, etc.
Our Favorite Antioxidant-Rich Nutrients
The good news is, there are lots of delicious, pet-friendly nutrients that are jam-packed with antioxidants. Here are some of our favorite nutrients that contain plenty of free-radical fighting antioxidants:
Glutathione: This just may be the antioxidant of all antioxidants. It’s found in every….single…..cell in your dog’s body. And, it’s key when it comes to other antioxidants. Sure, it’s powerful in its own right, but it also recycles and reuses other antioxidants in your pet’s body to work double-time! Some foods that are Glutathione-rich and safe for your pet to eat include broccoli, kale, papaya, milk thistle, turmeric, ginger, and avocado.
Vitamin C: You’ve no doubt heard how great Vitamin C is for your immune system, and it’s great for your pet’s immune system as well. Why? Because it’s packed with antioxidants to support him. Some foods that are Vitamin C-rich and safe for your pet to eat include strawberries, broccoli, and potatoes.
Beta Carotene: It’s a powerful antioxidant! Plant pigments, especially Beta Carotene, are full of free radical-fighting properties. They support your pet’s immune system and are a great addition to his routine. Some foods that are Beta Carotene-rich and safe for your pet to eat include carrots, kale, pumpkin, spinach, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Our Favorite Antioxidant-Rich Supplements
Of course, another great way to ensure your pet’s consuming enough antioxidants is by adding a supplement to his routine. Pet Honesty makes several that are filled with antioxidants to boost your dog’s immune system and help with oxidative stress. Try Pet Honesty Allergy SkinHealth Food Topper, which contains antioxidant-rich kelp, mushrooms, colostrum, blueberry, and green tea. Or, if your pet prefers a chew, try Pet Honesty Allergy Support Chews. They’re formulated with antioxidant-rich ingredients like turmeric, vitamin C, colostrum, and more.