Understanding Antioxidants for Optimal Pet Health

August 5, 2014

From glaucoma to immune disorders, pets that receive antioxidant supplements are generally able to fight disease more easily than those who are deficient in these nutrients.

“Scientists know that certain high antioxidant fruits and veggies neutralize cancer-causing free radicals in the blood of humans,” said Karen Rhoads, sales manager of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company. “This is a well documented metabolic process. Oncological nutritionists now feel that less carbohydrate and more meat might assist in cancer recovery in dogs. There are no scientific studies yet that prove a direct correlation between less carbohydrate/more meat and cancer recovery, but the low-carb trend is common knowledge in human cancer treatment and has carried over. ”

Cells, when functioning normally, produce free radicals (a group of various highly reactive molecules) and their function is to steal components from other molecules, which can increase damage from disease. Antioxidants can help prevent widespread damage by stabilizing these free radicals.

Natural Vs. Synthetic

The most common antioxidants are naturally found in whole foods and include vitamins A,  C and E, as well as specialized compounds known as carotenoids (including lutein and beta-carotene). In processing pet food, there are two types of antioxidants used, natural and synthetic. Natural antioxidants occur in fresh ingredients. Synthetic antioxidants, including BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin, are added during processing of pet food to increase shelf life and extend freshness. The process of extrusion can decrease the benefits of natural antioxidants.

Foods that are minimally processed, such as The Honest Kitchen or Carna4, naturally result in fewer free radicals.

According to Carna4’s website, free radicals can attack a pet’s body cells and if they reach unnaturally high levels, can hasten damage, leading to serious conditions like arthritis and contributing to cancer cell growth.

The success of antioxidants depends largely on several factors: When the antioxidants are added to foods, which combination of antioxidants is used, and the specific type of antioxidants used in processing.

“Evanger’s Super Premium Dinners for Dogs are sporting a new look and an even more super-premium ingredient list,” said Holly Sher, owner and president of Evanger’s Dog and Cat Food Company. “The 78-year old, made-in-the-USA pet food company has added USA farm-fresh spinach and kale to its Super Premium line, helping to raise the bar for quality nutrition for dogs. With high amounts of fiber, calcium, protein, and vitamins A, C and K, no other vegetable source can match these leafy-green wonders. Spinach and kale have many antioxidant properties that guard against inflammatory diseases, cancer, and some cardiovascular problems. Kale in particular is also helpful in detoxifying the liver, as kale juice has antibacterial properties. “

Understanding free radicals can help retailers choose pet foods, treats and supplements that are naturally high in antioxidants.
Antioxidant Treats

When it comes to pet treats, it’s important to choose treats that will be beneficial to them, instead of offering those that are just empty calories. Treats that focus on supplemental benefits and contain antioxidant properties are important no matter what species you work with.

“Pet-loving consumers are taking better care of their pets’ health than ever before, and are far more educated and savvy about reading ingredient labels,” said Dan Nagy, sales and marketing specialist for Loving Pets. “Pets are living longer, healthier lives due to more premium ingredients in pet foods and treats combined with improved veterinary care, so seek out 100-percent all-natural meats, fruits and vegetables to promote healthy pets from the inside out.”

Purely Natural dog treats from Loving Pets offer affordable all-natural combinations of 100-percent pure USA meats (beef and chicken) with chunks of antioxidant-rich and low-fat sweet potato, cranberries and more.

“We manufacture specific products to meet the antioxidant needs of pets,” said Susan Weiss, president of Ark Naturals. “Our Nu-Pet Canine Chewable Wafers is designed to meet the needs of dogs. Our Nu-Pet Feline Antioxidant is formulated with taurine, cysteine and glutathione amino acids, making it the perfect supplements for cats. Our Nu-Pet Granular Greens is a vegetarian product that utilizes super green phytonutrients to provide all known vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.”

Earth’s Balance also utilizes water as a delivery system.

“Daily Boost is a microstructured, electrolyzed water solution with powerful antioxidant qualities,” said Linda Cope of Marshall Pet. “It penetrates cells faster, absorb nutrients more efficiently, hydrates more efficiently, and facilitates the removal of cellular waste. So, basically, your dog’s cells get better nutrients, hydration and waste removal, all of which work together to bring his overall homeostasis closer to balance.”

Antioxidant Supplements

All species benefit from antioxidants and stores should encourage owners to explore the best solution for their pets.

New to the market is Revitamal. With more than 2,000 peer-reviewed basic science and clinical research studies at major universities, Revitamal utilizes cellular anti-aging science with a wide therapeutic range.

“We started our research in 2001 on our key primary ingredient, Revitamal FulleLife,” said Jonathan Griffith, CEO of Revitamal. “Revitamal restores cellular energy and the most powerful antioxidant function available, protecting your pet where they need it the most, the vulnerable cells and tissues where aging has the deepest effects.”
PureLife 4PETS has also created a supplement designed to maximize the benefits of antioxidants.

“Our patented key ingredient, Microhydrin gives your pet the necessary protection they require,” said Oscar Tenorio of PureLife 4PETS. “In order to protect against free radical damage, an abundant supply of electrons are needed to generate energy. Microhydrin provides the highest number of electrons of any antioxidant available to combat free radicals and provides your pet with the building blocks to produce energy on a cellular level.”

For pets suffering from cataracts and other eye ailments, Ocu-GLO Rx is a popular nutraceutical composed of 12 natural antioxidants, including grapeseed extract, lutein and omega-3 fatty acids. Veterinary ophthalmologists combined these key ingredients into a natural, single-dose nutraceutical that has been shown to provide benefits to dogs suffering from vision problems.

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