A close-up of raspberries and blueberries.

The Benefits of Antioxidants for Dogs

High-quality pet food ingredients provide the nutrients necessary for dogs to live happy and healthy lives, but did you know that some ingredients have bonus benefits? When used as part of a complete and balanced diet, these ingredients (called functional ingredients) can provide health benefits to dogs beyond basic nutrition. Let’s take a look at one of those extra benefits: antioxidants.

Many foods, like quinoa, blueberries, oranges and spinach, are superfoods that contain bonus benefits from fiber, omega fatty acids or antioxidants. Antioxidant ingredients work with the natural antioxidants produced by your dog’s body to help support your dog’s immune system and help keep their skin healthy.

What Are Antioxidants?

The term antioxidant is probably a familiar one, as it is commonly used in human health. For example, some people drink green tea as part of an antioxidant-rich diet. But what exactly is an antioxidant? The answer to this question needs a quick lesson in Biochemistry 101, as it involves oxygen, missing electrons and unstable molecules called free radicals.

During normal metabolism, the body produces free radicals — unstable molecules that contain oxygen and have an uneven number of electrons (the negatively charged particles of an atom). This makes them reactive, and on a mission, to steal an electron from molecules that are essential for maintaining your dog’s health. Stealing the electron damages the other molecule and starts a chain reaction of free radical production, as the damaged molecule can become a free radical too.

Antioxidants are the heroes. They fight free radicals, saving the day by controlling free radical production and protecting important molecules in the body. They do this using a number of methods, including neutralizing the free radicals by giving them an electron. These powerful antioxidants are stable enough that they can spare an electron without becoming free radicals themselves.

However, if more free radicals are produced than there are antioxidants to control them, health issues, like cancer and heart disease, can occur. Some natural antioxidants are produced by the body, but it is also important that ingredients in your dog’s food contain antioxidant properties to help keep your dog healthy and free radicals under control.

Antioxidants for Dogs Support the Immune System and Healthy Skin

As part of a complete and balanced diet, antioxidants support your dog’s health by protecting them from free radical damage. Ingredients that supply antioxidants for dogs can also make a healthy difference on the outside by supporting skin health and a shiny coat.

Antioxidants Support Optimal Health in Dogs of All Ages

Antioxidants can help support your dog’s health throughout their life. A diet rich in antioxidants can help support the developing immune system of puppies and may help their immune system respond to vaccinations. Senior dogs have increased free radical production due to the aging process, so age-related immunity issues, joint pain and joint health may be aided by antioxidants. Omega fatty acids also have roles in the immune response and skin health.

Antioxidant-Rich Foods for Dogs

Antioxidants for dogs can come from a number of different ingredients in your dog’s diet. From ancient grains like chia seeds and quinoa, which have a naturally high concentration of antioxidants, to superfoods such as blueberries, oranges, spinach and carrots, there are many plant sources of antioxidants available. Commercial dog food manufacturers may also use antioxidant supplements like a vitamin E supplement in your dog’s diet.

Antioxidant Ingredients in Dog Food

Some of the best antioxidants for dogs that can be found in complete and balanced commercial dog food include vitamin E, beta carotene, vitamin C, zinc and selenium. Each of these ingredients support your dog’s healthy lifestyle.

  • Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes, regulates intracellular respiration and supports immune function.
  • Beta carotene is derived from the orange or yellow color in fruits and vegetables. It’s converted into vitamin A inside the body.
  • Vitamin C is a nonessential vitamin that is used as an ingredient in dog formulas (listed as ascorbic acid) and is also found in ingredients like oranges, papaya and potatoes.
  • Zinc is an ingredient used in pet foods in the form of zinc amino acid chelate, zinc oxide, zinc proteinate and zinc sulfate. Zinc is necessary for protein formation, normal immune function, skin and wound healing, normal structure and function of the skin, growth and reproduction.
  • Selenium, used in pet food in the form of sodium selenite, is an essential trace mineral that is necessary for normal immune function and reproduction.

It’s common to find dog food with antioxidants in the formula. Ingredients you can find in Diamond Pet Foods formulas for dogs that are sources of antioxidants include:

  • Ancient grains – chia seed and quinoa
  • Fruits – blueberries, oranges, papaya, raspberries, pumpkin, tomatoes and tomato pomace
  • Vegetables – carrots, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes

Antioxidants Are Great for Dogs, Too!

Antioxidants are commonly found in ingredients used to formulate your pet’s diet. So next time you’re eating sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli or sipping on some green tea, and you’re wondering if there are antioxidant foods for dogs too, you know the answer!

An interior graphic detailing the sources of antioxidants in Diamond Pet Foods.

The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.


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