How Antioxidants Improve Our Pet's Health, Too

By PetMD Editorial on Aug. 24, 2012

The Plusses of Antioxidants in Pet Food

The science behind pet nutrition continues to make major advances. One such example of this is the use of antioxidants in pet food. Antioxidants are playing a key role in preventing certain diseases and lengthening the life of our pets.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Aside from preserving pet food, antioxidants offer a host of potential health benefits to your pets. Does your pet suffer from allergies, skin problems, immune disorders, or general problems associated with aging? Antioxidants may help. They work by reducing the cellular damage done by free radicals due to the effects of oxidation. If left unchecked, this damage continues in a chain reaction destroying both unhealthy and healthy cells.

Antioxidants have been shown to provide a health boost to animals of all ages. In young animals, they promote immune system activity before vaccination has been implemented. And in older dogs and cats, antioxidants help to slow down cellular damage to the brain and organs — providing a longer, healthier life.

Common Sources of Antioxidants

Common antioxidants used in pet foods include vitamins A, C, E, zinc, Beta-carotene and lycopene. Each has a specific role in promoting good health. For instance, vitamin E optimizes the immune system's T-cell activation. This helps your pet maintain healthy membrane tissue and retards cellular aging. Beta-carotene, meanwhile, increases antibody levels in the blood. This helps your pet fight off illnesses and infections. Once B-carotene is converted into vitamin A, it can also improve eyesight and skin and coat health.

There are also antioxidants-rich foods that can be used as ingredients in your pet's food. These include such things as whole grains, apples, berries, carrots and broccoli.

Choosing the Best Pet Food

If you want your pet food to have antioxidants, scan the ingredients list on the pet food bag or can. Pet food manufacturers are required to list antioxidants and their common names. You may want to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist too. They should have suggestions as to which antioxidants benefit your pet the most.

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