By Eric Stenson
Free radicals have generated a lot of attention in recent years for the havoc they can wreak on many different bodily systems, and pets are at risk as heavily as their human companions. Dr. Karen Becker, a holistic veterinarian writing at www.HealthyPets.Mercola.com, indicates that free radicals cause damage in the form of oxidative stress in your pet’s body, and oxidative stress and the inflammation it causes are directly linked to aging and disease.
However, there are ways to help. As with humans, antioxidants help target these destructive influences in animals. Natural antioxidants are a main feature in many pet supplements and foods and are becoming increasingly popular, according to www.NutritionalOutlook.com. Rob Kovler, founder of Animal Nutrition Products in New Rochelle, New York, has been involved with the veterinary industry for 30 years and started his company in 2001. His products include ArthriMAXX and UroMAXX. ArthriMAXX comes in liquid formulas for dogs and cats, as well as a soft chews for dogs. UroMAXX comes in liquid forms usable for cats and dogs.
The first product he developed was the ArthriMAXX, which he said features astaxanthin.
“It’s a green microalgae, even though it’s red,” Kovler described. “It’s clinically studied as the most advanced antioxidant in the world.”
UroMAXX features cranberry juice extract, herbal extracts, Glucosamine HCL and Vitamin C. Kovler says it’s the largest selling urinary herbal supplement for cats on Amazon. From a palatability standpoint, Kovler says pets take to his products well—the liquids can be measured and put on food, and the feline formula of ArthriMAXX as well as UroMAXX come packaged with eye droppers to ease introduction for cats.
“Cats are a pain in the butt; they are animals that detect things and they are finicky animals,” he said. “If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. They remember what they don’t like. We guarantee palatability. We want the animal to use it.”
Like many pet-related entrepreneurs, Darcy Bomford, CEO of True Leaf Pet of Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, got his start when he wanted to help his own dogs—in this case, as they dealt with stiffening joints. Having already founded and operated his pet food company, Darford, for 25 years, he took his expertise in pet nutrition with his current research into cannabis sativa and came up with hemp- based pet chews that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. His products include True Hemp Calming Chews, Hip + Joint Chews and Oil, and Immune + Heart Sticks. To Bomford, the ingredient that really makes his products is hemp seeds.
“Hemp is a powerful antioxidant, containing nearly every single vitamin and mineral needed by the body,” he said. “They are a rich source of phytonutrients which help protect immunity, bloodstream, tissues, cells, skin and organs.”
While hemp comes from the same family of plants as marijuana, it is perfectly safe for pets as a nutritional supplement and is free of any of the side effects associated with recreational marijuana, Bomford said. A new product from True Leaf is a just-developed hemp seed based cat treat for sale in the European market.
“The powerful effect of these hemp compounds is also ‘supercharged’ by the addition of other unique active ingredients that support each function,” he said. “For example, we add curcumin and green lipped mussel to the hemp-based Hip + Joint formula to support the body’s natural response to inflammation.”
When it comes to retailers who are looking to enhance their presence in the natural antioxidant marketplace, Bomford says to let human tendencies be your guide.
“For innovation, look in their local health food store or grocer to see what is popular for people. Ingredients and health conditions that are popular for people are quite often the next up and coming trend in the pet aisle,” he said.
InClover Research of Boulder, Colorado, got started with antioxidants for pets 22 years ago with its Connectin joint supplement product for dogs, cats and horses.
“We recognized that addressing the issue of free radicals was an important part of supporting joint health,” said Rebecca Rose, InClover’s founder and product developer. “Connectin contains a combination of organic alfalfa powder, turmeric root and ginger root to address the antioxidant needs of pets who want a healthy, active lifestyle.”
To Rose, the key factor in any product is, how well does it work?
“We are science nerds! For more than two decades we’ve made only science-based products,” she said. “All of our products work from the inside out with the natural physiology of the pet. This gentle but effective foundation gives pet parents peace of mind and pets an improved lifestyle.”
A new product in InClover’s lineup is BioResiliant powder. The formulation offers support for environmental and seasonal allergies, with antioxidant-rich coconut and mangosteen.
“Products with carefully formulated plant-based antioxidants such as alfalfa, mangosteen, coconut, turmeric and ginger offer the benefit of antioxidants with immune properties,” she continued.
Vetriscience Laboratories of Williston, Vermont, makes a variety of antioxidant-based supplements, including multivitamins and GlycoFlex, the company’s signature joint product, according to Derek J. Archambault, director of marketing for pet and retail.
“We recognize that many animals don’t receive enough of these essential nutrients from most commercial dog foods,” he said. “It’s for that reason that antioxidants are found in many of our products in order to support joint health, digestion, immune system function, skin and coat, and everyday wellness.”
Archambault points to his products’ effectiveness, citing that GlycoFlex contains a patented form of Perna canaliculus from an exclusive source in New Zealand. He backs this up with clinical testing, indicating that GlycoFlex Plus is clinically proven to increase hind-leg strength by up to 41 percent in just four weeks.
Beyond supplements, antioxidants play a significant role in food as well. For example, Grandma Lucy’s Macanna line features pinto bean, according to Jorge Jeub, Grandma Lucy’s social media and marketing specialist.
“The pinto bean base creates a protein-rich foundation that is packed with antioxidants and folate,” he said. “By tapping into the antioxidant properties of the other superfood ingredients such as coconut, kale, turmeric, blueberries, and hemp hearts; this recipe addresses a consumer need for pet foods with added health benefits.”
Macanna comes in beef, salmon and turkey varieties. Effective sourcing of natural ingredients and Grandma Lucy’s proprietary flaking process in producing freeze-dried food helps set the company apart, Jeug said.
“When creating a pet food, co-owners Eric and Breann Shook agreed to only include ingredients they would confidently feed their own pets,” Jeub said. “Years of research and feedback led to three phytonutrient-dense ingredient bases that make up our recipes.”