If you’re wondering whether your dog needs antioxidants, the answer is yes. Antioxidants are a critical component of every dog’s diet, as they not only offer various benefits to your pup’s health, but also help keep dog food fresh. Whether you have a puppy, adult dog, or senior dog, you’ll want to make sure your pooch is getting the antioxidants they need.

So What Exactly Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes that help keep cellular molecules alive and healthy longer. They do so by protecting cells from the effects of oxidation (or exposure to oxygen), which damages cells over time via the production of free radicals. Dogs who are sick, elderly, exposed to toxins, or suffer from poor nutrition produce higher levels of free radicals. Antioxidants help to reduce this damage and prevent further harm to the cells.

Antioxidants (What Are They Good For?)

Absolutely... a lot! Antioxidants offer not only only health benefits, but also food-preserving capabilities:

Health Benefits

Antioxidants help promote healthy immune systems, and are particularly important to puppies who are still-developing immune systems.

Senior dogs also benefit greatly from the immune system-boosting qualities of antioxidants since their immune systems are also more vulnerable to the harm caused by oxidants. Antioxidants can even help reverse some of the damage already done to senior dogs’ cells by oxidants and free radicals.

That’s not to say adult dogs shouldn’t have an antioxidant-heavy as well — just remember that they’re extra necessary for puppies and senior dogs.

Food Preservatives

Antioxidants are also used to keep dog food fresher for longer. By helping to prevent oxidation, antioxidants help maintain the food’s taste and nutrient levels, and stop the ingredients in your pup’s food from going bad too soon.

If a dog’s food doesn’t contain antioxidants, a number of things can happen to it, from discoloration to losing essential nutrients. Since pet food companies are required by law to list what antioxidants they’re using in their formulas, you can take a look at the ingredients on their label to find out which ones are in your doggo’s food.

What Kinds of Antioxidants Are There?

Both natural and synthetic antioxidants are used in dog food, for the previously mentioned health reasons and to keep the food fresh. Here are some examples of both:

Natural: The most common is Vitamin E and is typically isolated from vegetable oils.

Synthetic: BHA and BHT are synthetic antioxidants that are similar to vitamin E. Ethoxyquin, meanwhile, is known to be effective during processing and is FDA-approved in low levels.

Here are several antioxidants that are especially crucial to a dog’s diet:

Beta-carotene: This carotenoid provides the orange color found in several fruits and vegetables like carrots and functions as an antioxidant. Dogs, and even humans, can also use beta-carotene to make Vitamin A in the body.

Lutein: Another carotenoid, Lutein is responsible for the yellow color in many vegetables and is found in corn, marigold extract and can even be found in ingredients like chicken because their diet consists of a lot of lutein containing grains and vegetables.

Vitamin E: This is a group of nutrients commonly called tocopherols and are found in plant based oils as well as wheat germ oil, egg yolk, and leafy vegetables. Vitamin E is an essential nutrient in dogs and functions as an antioxidant both in the body as well as helping to preserve foods.

Antioxidants In Your Dog’s Food

Many quality dog food formulas include some level of antioxidants, since, as mentioned, they’re important to the preservation process. Keep in mind, though, that natural antioxidants don’t preserve freshness as long as artificial preservatives.

If you’re concerned your pup isn’t getting enough or the right kind, you can work with Puppo to build a personalized nutrition plan catered to their needs. Depending on your dog’s age and health history, Puppo’s nutritionists will recommend a diet with the necessary antioxidants and the right amounts of them. Puppo doesn’t use any artificial preservatives. The natural antioxidants used in your pup’s formula will keep their food tasty and fresh.