5 Disease-Fighting Antioxidants For Dogs

Antioxidants for dogs

You feed your dog every day … but are you adding in these disease-fighting antioxidants for optimal health? Most pet owners give their dog supplements like probiotics, omega-3 fatty acides, and turmeric.

But there are other things that you might not have thought of adding. There are 5 excellent antioxidants for dogs listed below … so read on to learn why they need to be in your dog’s diet.

But first … what are antioxidants for dogs and why are they important?

What Antioxidants Do

Antioxidants slow the aging process and boost the immune system by fighting free radical damage. Feeding antioxidants to your dog will help combat this damage.

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are created as part of your dog’s normal metabolic processes. They’re damaged cells that are missing a critical molecule, so they try to repair themselves by stealing molecules from other cells. This damages the DNA in that cell and makes your dog more prone to disease.

The body has good defenses against free radicals but sometimes they can grow out of control. Then free radical damage leads to faster aging and chronic disease, including cancer, joint disease, heart, liver and kidney disease, and even cognitive decline.

Toxins Create More Free Radicals

Toxins that get into your dog’s body can promote more free radicals and trigger chronic disease. Pesticides, medications and toxins in your dog’s food and environment contribute to free radical growth. Over time, the free radicals these toxins will accumulate and the body can’t stop their damage.

So your dog needs plenty of antibiotics to help control these dangerous free radicals in his body (1).

Benefits Of Antioxidants For Dogs

Here are the top 6 disease fighting antioxidants that support his immunity, joint health, digestive system and so much more.

1. Astaxanthin

This red pigment belongs to a group of compounds called carotenoids. It comes from microalgae. And it’s what makes shrimp, salmon, flamingos, and crayfish pink when they eat it.

Astaxanthin’s powerful antioxidant properties (2) have been shown to be more powerful than vitamin C and beta-carotene.

  • Joint health: reduces inflammation and pain
  • Immune system: boosts the immune system and protects against free radical damage
  • Brain health: crosses the blood-brain barrier and provides essential nutrients
  • Eye health: anti-inflammatory properties can ease conditions like dry eye
  • Heart health: shown to reduce C-Reactive Protein (CRP) in the body, a marker for inflammation and heart disease

Astaxanthin Dose For Dogs

If you buy an astaxanthin supplement made for pets, follow the label directions. When using a product made for people, assume the dosage is for a 150 lb person and adjust for your dog’s weight.. Most human supplements recommend 8 mg to 12 mg per day, which means you can give your dog 1 mg to  1.6 mg daily per 20 lbs of bodyweight.

2. Colostrum

Colostrum is known for building newborns’ immune systems … but it’s also antioxidant-rich (3). It has properties that support your dog with his:

  • Immune system: a hormone called Proline-Rich-Polypeptide (PRP) in colostrum can stimulate an under-active immune system and boost immunity
  • Allergies: Allergies are the result of an over-active immune response and PRP also has the ability to regulate the immune response
  • Joints: A human study found it to be highly effective in relieving joint pain, reducing inflammation and increasing mobility
  • Digestive system: Studies have shown it can alleviate conditions like leaky gut syndrome – which boosts the immune system
  • Cancer care: Colostrum can help fight cancer through a protein called lactalbumin that can cause cancer cell death. It also has immunoglobulins that destroy bacteria and fight viruses.
  • Wound healing: works externally to promote wound healing. Great for healing skin conditions, ear infections, abscesses and more.

Colostrum Dose For Dogs

The dose for colostrum for dogs is: 1/16 tsp powdered colostrum per 25 lbs body weight twice daily.

Colostrum is best given on an empty stomach or mixed with a little yogurt or broth. Use it daily for one month and then as needed.

For topical use, mix with distilled water to make a paste and apply to the infected area.

3. Green-Lipped Mussels

Green lipped mussels come from New Zealand waters and they’re a rich source of antioxidants for dogs. They are also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes.

They’re a natural source of glycosaminoglycans (GAGS). These are the main components of cartilage and synovial fluid found in the joints.

Research has shown them to relieve discomfort and inflammation in dogs (and people) suffering from arthritis (4). They support joint mobility, cartilage maintenance, cardiovascular health and help maintain healthy skin too.

Green lipped mussel powders for dogs are easy to find … but make sure the product you buy is cold extracted … becaue heat destroys the nutrients.

Green Lipped Mussel Dose For Dogs

If you buy a supplement made for dogs, you can follow the dosing instructions on the package … or you can give about 15 mg of powder per lb of your dog’s body weight per day. 

If your dog has severe inflammation, you can double the dose for the first two weeks and then reduce the dose to the recommended level.

You can also give your dog freeze-dried green-lipped mussel treats: give 2 mussels for every 10 lbs of body weight per day. Green lipped mussel oil is also a safer, sustainable alternative to fish oil for a source of omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Eggshell Membrane

Eggs are a nutritional wonder … and one part, in particular, is the delicate eggshell membrane (the thin layer between the egg white and the shell).

It may not be what first comes to your mind when thinking about antioxidants for dogs … but it should as studies have shown its dramatic results in improving joint health for both humans and dogs.

Eggshell membrane contains several natural joint-supporting compounds like:

  • Glucosamine
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Chondroitin
  • Collagen

A NEM six week trial of 51 dogs (with various levels of joint problems) showed that the natural eggshell membrane significantly reduced joint pain (5). And the best part is that eggshell membrane is very safe for your dog … unlike potentially harmful drugs like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS).

Eggshell Membrane Dose For Dogs

The dogs in the study received 6 mg per lb daily of NEM brand eggshell membrane.

5. Green Tea

Green tea is very popular because of its antioxidant health benefits for humans … and your dog can also benefit. It’s controversial … because people worry about caffeine in green tea. The answer is to use decaffeinated green tea for your dog.

Green tea is an antioxidant with a wide range of vitamins and minerals. It contains antioxidant polyphenols called catechins that provide the medicinal benefits, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory and immune support (6): green tea’s antioxidant properties support the immune system. As well as reduce inflammation, and support the liver and heart
  • Brain health (7): contains L-theanine which crosses the blood-brain barrier and can improve and protect brain function
  • Anti-cancer (8): several studies have shown green tea to be helpful in preventing various types of cancer in humans by killing cancer cells.

Green Tea Dose For Dogs

According to veterinarians Steve Marsden, DVM ND MSOM LAc DiplCH AHG, Shawn Messonnier, DVM and Cheryl Yuill, DVM, MSc, CVH, both green and black teas are safe for dogs with low risk of side effects.

But there’s reason to be cautious. A 2009 study ended after Beagles were fasted and given large doses of green tea extract in capsule form … and dogs died. But a later study without fasting didn’t produce such harmful results, so it’s thought that fasting was a factor in the first study. (9)

The dogs who died were fasted and given green tea extract. So, to be safe, don’t give your dog green tea in capsule form … but make a tea and give it with food. Here’s how to do this.

Make your own organic decaffeinated green tea:
  • Use 1 tea bag or 1 Tbsp of loose tea per 4 cups of water
  • Steep for about 15 minutes and remove the tea bag or strain the tea
  • Cool and give 1/8 cup per 20 lbs body weight up to twice daily with your dog’s meals
  • Keep refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. If the tea turns cloudy, throw it out and make a new brew.

Caution: Tea naturally contains fluoride. Studies have linked fluoride consumption to a number of health issues. So check the fluoride content before you buy.

To minimize fluoride in your (and your dog’s) tea make sure you brew it with water that’s been filtered to remove fluoride. Brita filters won’t filter out fluoride … but reverse osmosis filters can. 

Now you know why you need to start giving these powerful antioxidant supplements to your dog. You don’t need to give all of these daily … but rotating them in into his diet can help keep your dog active and vigorous.

  1. Alkadi H. A Review on Free Radicals and Antioxidants. Infect Disord Drug Targets. 2020;20(1):16-26.
  2. Higuera-Ciapara I, Félix-Valenzuela L, Goycoolea FM. Astaxanthin: a review of its chemistry and applications. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2006;46(2):185-96. 
  3. Zarban A, Taheri F, Chahkandi T, Sharifzadeh G, Khorashadizadeh M. Antioxidant and radical scavenging activity of human colostrum, transitional and mature milk. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2009;45(2):150-154.
  4. Rialland P, Bichot S, Lussier B, et al. Effect of a diet enriched with green-lipped mussel on pain behavior and functioning in dogs with clinical osteoarthritis. Can J Vet Res. 2013;77(1):66-74.
  5. Ruff K, Kopp K, Von Behrens P, Lux M, Mahn M, Back M. Effectiveness of NEM® brand eggshell membrane in the treatment of suboptimal joint function in dogs: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Vet Med (Auckl). 2016;7:113-121
  6. Ohishi T, Goto S, Monira P, Isemura M, Nakamura Y. Anti-inflammatory Action of Green Tea. Antiinflamm Antiallergy Agents Med Chem. 2016;15(2):74-90. 
  7. Pervin M, Unno K, Ohishi T, Tanabe H, Miyoshi N, Nakamura Y. Beneficial Effects of Green Tea Catechins on Neurodegenerative Diseases. Molecules. 2018 May 29;23(6):1297. 
  8. Musial C, Kuban-Jankowska A, Gorska-Ponikowska M. Beneficial Properties of Green Tea Catechins. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Mar 4;21(5):1744.
  9. Kapetanovic IM, Crowell JA, Krishnaraj R, Zakharov A, Lindeblad M, Lyubimov A. Exposure and toxicity of green tea polyphenols in fasted and non-fasted dogs. Toxicology. 2009 Jun 16;260(1-3):28-36

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