The term ‘antioxidant’ has been thrown around a lot over the last decade. In fact, it has become something of a buzz-word, when it comes to describing the benefits of healthy human foods and products. However, many people do not realize that the abilities of these clever little molecules can extend beyond humans, and they can also be beneficial to your pets, and more specifically, for your dogs.
What are antioxidants?
Many people have heard of antioxidants, but don’t truly understand what they are and how they work. All around us, including your pet, are molecules that are known as ‘free radicals’. They are in the environment, such as pollution and cigarette smoke, radiation, and sunlight. They are also the end product of our own breathing and energy production process.
Antioxidants are substances that protect the body from oxidation, which is the term given to the damage caused by free radicals. While your pet’s body does have its own antioxidant defence system to protect it from the free radicals, it is also reliant on a ‘top-up’ of antioxidant goodness from the food that your canine pal consumes.
Why are free radicals bad?
Free radicals are “charged” molecules, which means that they have the ability to make normal cells change. The damage inflicted by free radicals on normal cells is irreparable and has been linked to dozens of serious diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Where can you find antioxidants?
Antioxidants can be found in many of the vitamins and minerals of many of the fruits and vegetables that we eat, particularly in the skin of produce such as apples, carrots, and berries. The most common antioxidants are beta carotene, selenium, and lycopene.
Some of the best foods to find important antioxidants in include carrots, green peppers, squash, tomatoes, kale, peaches, apples, broccoli, spinach, brussels, citrus fruits, and strawberries.
Antioxidants in dog food
Many types of dog food are designed to have a long shelf life. One of the reasons that this is possible is because the food is manufactured containing various preservatives, including antioxidants. When food spoils, it is because oxygen has managed to penetrate it and oxidative damage has occurred. However, these antioxidants help to prevent this from happening, allowing down the rate at which oxidative damage occurs, ensuring that the food contained in the packet, can or box, lasts considerably longer.
Both natural antioxidants and a synthetic variety are used in many processed dog foods and should be listed as a preservative on the ingredients label. Many owners prefer to choose foods that use natural antioxidants, as they feel that this is much healthier for their dog. However, these tend to not last quite as long as products containing the synthetic alternative, so be sure to check expiration dates on all products before purchase.
Why you should choose dog food that contains antioxidants
As a loving, responsible pet parent, you will certainly want to ensure that you are doing everything you possibly can to give your canine companion the longest, happiest, and healthiest life possible. Not only will choosing foods that contain antioxidants last your pet much longer, but with them proven to reduce the risk of a range of chronic and debilitating illnesses and diseases, you will also be doing your dog’s health a tremendous favor.
As an additional note, high protein enriched dog food shouldn’t be taken into consideration either as this can damage your pet’s kidneys or cause severe obesity or arthritis. This can save your pet from a great deal of pain and discomfort, and help you to keep stressful trips to your veterinarian and expensive medical treatments to a minimum.