Why are antioxidants and other health-related supplements important for my dog or cat or horse?
- Dogs do not consume large amounts of fruits and vegetables in their natural diets, especially in many commercially available diets. However, the small herbivores that ancestral dogs would hunt and eat definitely consumed diets rich in antioxidants. Therefore, dogs would indirectly ingest their required nutrients in fruits and vegetables.
- Today’s environment is full of oxidative stressors. We are constantly flooded with light from the sun which creates enormous oxidative stress, which in turn generates a toxic soup of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS). These are unstable oxygen and nitrogen molecules that attack all of the cells in the body!
- There is no way to avoid oxidative stress because it is a normal process occurring during routine living and aging, from exposure to UV (ultraviolet) light, and from normal cellular metabolism.
- Healthy normal cells have their own innate ways to fight oxidative stress and free radicals; that is, through naturally occurring antioxidants inside the cells.
- These include ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), glutathione, and many others.
- When cells are overwhelmed by too much oxidative stress, then the normal stores of these antioxidants become depleted and the cells become less efficient and can die.
- Another huge factor is normal aging. In humans, middle age (40 years) brings on the depletion of normal antioxidants in the body. The equivalent of middle age in humans is approximately 5 years in the average sized dog (30 to 40 lbs); younger in large and giant breeds and slightly older in toy and small breeds.
In short, vitamins and antioxidants are well-proven to provide protection against oxidative stress.