You’ve definitely heard of antioxidants before. They’re found in many human foods and offer us many health benefits. The question is, do antioxidants offer those same benefits for our canine companions?
The answer is yes—antioxidants are important for keeping your pup happy and healthy throughout their life. Let’s take a look at some of the major benefits of antioxidants for dogs.
Antioxidants do just what their name suggests: battle oxidation. Oxidation occurs when food is exposed to oxygen, which will break down the food’s cells over time and spoil it. It’s the same reason that fruit goes brown if it’s out for too long. Dog food is no different. By including antioxidants in dog food, manufacturers can keep their product safe for consumption for extended periods of time.
At home, you can also take steps to keep your dog’s food fresh by keeping it away from heat, light, and moisture. Storing your dog’s kibble in a cool, dry, dark place is your best bet.
Antioxidants do more than just protect your dog’s food—they’re also beneficial for your dog’s health. Antioxidants counter the effects of free radicals in your pet’s body. Free radicals are naturally occurring agents that contain oxygen, and they damage both healthy and unhealthy cells that already exist in your dog’s body. Antioxidants help to keep free radicals at bay, keeping your dog’s cells healthier for longer and stopping the degeneration of tissues.
Other benefits include increased immune system function, better vision (thanks to antioxidants like leutine and zeanxathin), and even increased exercise tolerance. Antioxidants also protect the heart and circulatory system from free radicals, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. Even cancer can be made less likely thanks to the power of antioxidants.
Antioxidants may be especially important for our older animal companions. The older your dog gets, the more that his or her cells suffer small amounts of damage to their structure. That means that the cells, and the organs that they make up, don’t function as well as your dog ages. Since antioxidants combat that cell damage, they’re vital for maintaining your dog’s bodily systems as they continue to enter their golden years.
Want to learn more about the role antioxidants play in your dog’s nutrition and wellness? Need a dietary recommendation? Contact your vet for help.