Why are Antioxidants Important for Pets
When it comes to our pets, we are always trying to ensure that we're doing the best that we can for our feline companions and canine friends. From making sure their dry food is nutritional and refraining from giving them any foods that will harm them, pet owners are very intentional about what they allow in the lives of their pets. After all, our furry friends don’t deserve anything shy of the best.
We all know that exercise is important, and socialization with other dogs is the key to a happy pup, while cats often just want some one-on-one time with their owners. There are a lot of unspoken, obvious needs that we must provide to our pets. But has the topic of antioxidants crossed your mind?
Antioxidants are often talked about in conversations about detoxing and improving overall health. But what are antioxidants, and why do they seem to be the talk of the town? There is quite a wide array of healthy benefits when it comes to antioxidants for pets. But before we dive too deep into the effects of antioxidants, let’s talk about what antioxidants are and how you can enrich your pet’s lifestyle by increasing his or her antioxidant intake.
What are Antioxidants and Why are They Important?
Antioxidants can be a reasonably hard concept to grasp, so let's break it down into consumable pieces to help you understand what antioxidants are. The word oxidant is part of antioxidant, and this is a very important detail. See, the oxidation process is involved in the production of antioxidants, so a bit of background here is essential in comprehending the power of antioxidants.
Oxidation is not always predictable, and yet, it is possible to artificially cause the process to occur. In a chemical sense, oxidation occurs when molecules experience a loss of their electrons. As a result, the unique properties of these molecules are no longer applicable, because the entire electron cloud has been altered, and therefore, the molecule is entirely different.
Oxidation causes some electrons to become positive while others turn into a negatively-charged molecule. It all depends on the molecule in question and how many electrons it held before the oxidation process occurred. When molecules are altered as a result of oxidation, they are said to have higher oxidation states.
So, when oxidation occurs, the body is prone to damage caused by these reactive molecules known as free radicals. Essentially what happens is that oxygen metabolizes, producing the toxic free radicals, which then escape any realm of control and start to engage with molecules in the atmosphere. They are called free radicals on the basis of chemistry terminology. If it helps you to remember them more easily, know that free radicals are missing a valence electron.
The fact that one of the molecule's valence electrons is nowhere to be found means the molecule is incredibly reactive. As a result, these free radicals pose a threat to the body. If free radicals roam and interact with the cells in your body, they can cause some serious, unwanted damage to your body’s internal functioning.
Since free radicals are so volatile and unstable, they will react with molecules that make up the essential building blocks in your body. An example of free radicals causing damage is when they take electrons away from your body’s protein molecules. This can be especially dangerous where deoxyribonucleic acid is involved.
When free radicals successfully cause damage to your tissues and various types of cells, the body is experiencing a phenomenon called oxidative stress. The more free radicals that are introduced into your body, the more likely it is that you will experience higher levels of oxidative stress.
While generic everyday stressors are hard to avoid, a common case of stress will not kill you when endured in minor doses. However, oxidative stress is not beneficial to you in any way, shape, or form. Thankfully, oxidative stress levels can be severely decreased with the help of antioxidants.
So what do antioxidants in pets do? They basically counteract the effects of free radicals. While free radicals are not inherently bad for us as a concept, free radicals do pose a health concern when they are present in a surplus. The strongest antioxidants combat the adverse outcomes of the oxidation process.
It’s always important to fact-check the list of ingredients before purchasing anything that boasts as an antioxidant, just to be sure that the supplement is what it claims to be. But when you’re on the lookout for antioxidants for dogs and cats, there are seven types of antioxidants important for pet health.
The Many Different Kinds of Antioxidants that are Safe for Your Pets
The strongest antioxidant of all time has been identified as hydroxytyrosol. As a completely natural supplement, hydroxytyrosol is recognized for its insane ability to absorb more free radicals than any other natural antioxidant in existence. Since hydroxytyrosol is so quick to absorb into the bloodstream, it is, in turn, incredibly fast-acting.
Even more incredible is the way hydroxytyrosol can surpass the limitations of the blood-brain barrier, allowing the antioxidant to take up free-roaming free radicals within the central nervous system as well. Hydroxytyrosol is closely affiliated with dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter known for its correlation with heightened moods.
As a result, hydroxytyrosol works to protect the tissues of the brain. By protecting against the possibility of an invasion of free radicals within the neurological pathways, hydroxytyrosol is an antioxidant that fights against brain damage caused by toxic chemicals and reactive substances that could cause damage to the functioning of the central nervous system.
In total, there are approximately five different types of antioxidants. These five categories are…
- Alpha lipoic acid
For the sake of learning about why antioxidants are important for our pets, let’s talk about seven antioxidants specifically utilized for optimal pet health. These seven antioxidants are…
- Eggshell membranes
- Green tea
- Larch arabinogalactan
- Green lipped mussels
Eggshell membranes are an antioxidant that excel at supporting joints in your pet's body. These membranes are the fluid-like substance that sits between the white part of eggs and the actual, physical shell. Eggshell membranes are also incredibly talented when it comes to reducing joint pain. Within approximately six weeks after introducing eggshell membrane into your pet's daily nutritional diet, your pups and your kittens will begin noticing a decline in discomfort associated with, and immobility caused by, the joints.
An antioxidant that is present during pregnancy and shortly after birth, colostrum is an antioxidant that really improves the way the immune system works. Immunity is heightened by colostrum due to the PRP hormone, or proline-rich polypeptide. This hormone keeps allergies in check and reduces any amount of overactivity within the immune system of your cats and dogs.
Gut health is improved by the presence of colostrum in the body, whereas inflammation has been shown to decrease alongside PRP. If your pet is experiencing the unfortunate circumstance of cancer, colostrum would be something to seriously consider adding to your pet's daily intake. Another protein that colostrum contains, known as lactalbumin, obliterates cancer-causing toxins as well as existing cancer cells. In turn, the immune system is heightened and the body is more capable of fighting off illnesses that cancer invites into the immune system.
Phytoplankton is a main supplier of healthy fish oils, also known as omega-3 fatty acids. Sometimes, the fish oils circulating within your pet's internal systems become toxic over time, and if they remain in your pet's body for long enough, they can be a source of inflammation. An enzyme known as the superoxide dismutase is an antioxidant located within phytoplankton. Superoxide dismutase assists in the removal process of dangerous toxins, clearing the body and cleansing the internal pathways needed for everyday processes.
Phytoplankton has the ability to reduce the intensity of the symptoms of allergic reactions as well as being able to detox the liver. With its antioxidant properties, phytoplankton is also capable of improving the overall functioning of the immune system, especially when it comes to the performance of various types of cells. Overall, phytoplankton reduces the chance of recurring digestive issues and bouts of inflammation. Along with elevating the energy levels of your dogs or cats, phytoplankton is also excellent when it comes to keeping the gut in check and making poor digestion a smoother process.
Green tea sounds like an odd supplement to add to your pet’s diet, but hear us out. Green tea is most often marketed as a caffeinated tea, but green tea can be decaffeinated as well. We don't condone giving caffeine to your fun furry friends, so if you want your pup or kitty to start taking green tea as part of his or her diet, please be sure to purchase decaffeinated green tea only.
People drink green tea for the same benefits that green tea provides to cats and dogs. Green tea is an amazing source of immune support and it has been shown to have contributing effects on overall neurological improvement. The latter is more so due to the energizing effects of caffeinated green tea than its other properties, so you shouldn't expect to see a terribly high increase in your pet’s activity levels.
Larch arabinogalactan refers to an antioxidant-rich soluble fiber that naturally occurs in plants of all kinds, including herbaceous flowers and edible vegetables. The Western Larch tree is the point of extraction for larch arabinogalactan in particular. From supporting a healthy immune system and improving the functions of a well-running gut, to preventing the possibility of cancer and keeping everything moving as it should within your pet’s digestive tract, larch arabinogalactan seems to do it all.
New Zealand is not only home to beautiful islands and gorgeous shorelines. The country is also the origin of green lipped mussels, which can be found in the surrounding waters of the Pacific Ocean. Green lipped mussels are chalked full of omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, necessary enzymes, nutritional minerals, vitamins, and many other building blocks of a healthy, mobile body. Green lipped mussels are a known aid in relieving pain associated with arthritis, which tends to result from inflammation and joint discomfort that becomes chronic.
Now, before you look into purchasing green lipped mussels in their natural form, let us be the ones to tell you that dogs and cats should be given a powdered form of green lipped mussels. If you decide that green lipped mussels are antioxidants that you want to start giving your pets, look into the production process of the particular powder you have in mind.
If the green lipped mussels are not turned into powder via a cold-pressed extraction process, then they are not worth buying. When heat is introduced to green lipped mussels, the antioxidant properties lose their efficacy, so they will not have any effect on your pet’s health.
As a carotenoid, astaxanthin is actually a red pigment. It is found in salmon, shrimp, flamingos, and various other pink-hued, freshwater microphytes. The antioxidant properties that astaxanthin exhibits are incredibly beneficial to the bodies of our pets. Astaxanthin can limit the exacerbation of joint pain as well as heal inflammation and keep molecules that cause this problem in the first place at bay.
The immune system has been shown to be far more effective at battling free radicals when astaxanthin is present. The pigment delivers nutrients to the brain of your pet as well, which just improves the neurological functions and overall health of the brain. The eyes of your dogs and cats even reap the benefits of astaxanthin. As an anti-inflammatory super-antioxidant, astaxanthin keeps pain to a minimum while optimizing health at the same time.
The Benefits of Antioxidants
The health benefits of antioxidants are dependent upon the exact antioxidant in question. However, from what is known, all antioxidants act as the body’s protectors, especially where free radicals are involved. Antioxidants have nearly identical functions, no matter which method is utilized to keep the body healthy.
Aside from improving the overall internal functioning of your pet, antioxidants also work to keep your pet youthful and energized. When too many free radicals enter the body and your pet is not receiving any additional antioxidants beyond the antioxidants your pet naturally produces, your pup or your kitty cat is going to be far more prone to very undesirable illnesses.
Believe it or not, cancer is even one of the possible -- though not probable -- outcomes of too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants. Three other very serious diseases that can erupt from an imbalance of the antioxidant to free radical ratio are heart disease, deterioration of the retina, and progressive arthritis, which is often also considered to be chronic at that point.
Antioxidants give electrons to the free radicals that are running amuck and causing issues for your pet. When an electron is transferred from an antioxidant to a free radical, the free radical becomes stable, which then eliminates its harmful properties. Antioxidants for dogs and cats are an invaluable addition to your pet’s lifestyle, but it’s important to not overdo it. One of the most essential things to keep in mind is that antioxidants, like nearly everything in life, can be dangerous when taken in large doses.
Antioxidants in Cannabidiol
As if cannabidiol could be any more impressive, CBD also just so happens to contain antioxidants. In fact, CBD is said to contain one of the strongest antioxidants for dogs and cats among all natural antioxidants. When compared to other natural antioxidants for dogs and cats, such as the sun-derived vitamin C, cannabidiol surpasses the efficacy levels of nearly every other antioxidant. Some of the strongest antioxidants don’t even compare to the antioxidizing properties of cannabidiol.
CBD properties are responsible for the way cannabidiol eliminates high levels of toxic molecules in the body. CBD counteracts the potential for various harmful effects to take place by donating electrons to the free radicals the CBD molecules come in contact with. Due to its antioxidant properties, cannabidiol is also adept at protecting the brain from the harmful effects of free radicals. This quality is called being neuroprotective.
So, not only is CBD an excellent pain management tool, it may be a solution for many symptoms of psychological ailments, and a way of reducing sources of discomfort, like nausea, CBD is also one of the strongest antioxidants you’ll ever encounter. Talk about a high-achieving compound!
One of the best characteristics of CBD is that it is sourced from cannabis and hemp, making it completely plant-based and subsequently all natural. While you may logically be thinking something along the lines of “What’s the catch?” we’re ecstatic to tell you that there is not a single one.
Cannabidiol can provide clarity, serenity, and relaxation, without adverse consequences. There are no known side effects of CBD, and that is the beauty of cannabidiol. The cannabis-derived compound is so universal because it does not pose a risk to anyone or any pet.
Where Can I Buy CBD For Pets?
Antioxidants foods for dogs can be difficult to incorporate into your pup’s diet for the sole reason that any amount of change is hard, especially for pets. Despite the slight difficulty that may be involved, CBD is both a great dog antioxidant and an effective cat antioxidant. Innovet has just about everything you could ask for in CBD for pets, and you can hear about why customers are choosing Innovet products. From antioxidant dog treats and oils, to chewy hemp snacks and easy-to-swallow hemp capsules, we’ve got your pet’s antioxidant needs covered!
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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The Innovet Team