What are Antioxidants?

There’s been a lot of hype in recent years about antioxidants, and we thought it might be helpful to explain what they are and how they might be useful to your pets. If it’s been awhile since your high school chemistry class, we’re going to get briefly nerdy to define the word ‘antioxidant’.  The prefix ‘anti’ means against or opposed to, while the root ‘oxidant’ refers to an oxidizing agent. What’s an oxidizing agent you might ask? In the world of chemical reactions, oxidizing agents remove electrons, and this action helps manage uncharged molecules (called oxygen free radicals) that can damage the body if left unchecked.  Basically, it’s the body’s way of playing a good defensive game. We might also think of it in terms of a dog park (or kindergarten classroom) where there are often one or two very excitable individuals who tend to be less excitable when certain (calmer) friends come along to play.

Nutrients like Vitamin C, beta-carotene, Vitamin E or zinc are antioxidants--they act in your pet’s body (and your own body) to block potentially harmful reactions generated by uncharged molecules (often referred to as oxygen free radicals).  Results from scientific studies over the past 20 years have suggested possible benefits to dogs and cats eating foods with higher levels of antioxidants, however, the exact effective dose is truly unknown.  Some manufacturers of complete and balanced canned or dry kibble pet food are starting to make products with boosted levels of antioxidants. While we don’t what the appropriate levels should be for growing puppies and kittens versus adult dogs and cats, there appear to be few to no negative side effects.
For those of you who are feeding a homemade recipe, we think it’s vital to provide your pet with the appropriate micro-nutrients in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies. By cruising around the petdiets.com website, you’ll see that we are fans of the “all-in-one” vitamin-mineral supplement to compliment your homemade recipe; it’s not only less expensive but it’s also more efficient and safer than using several individual supplements.