Several of my past blog posts have contained the word ‘antioxidant’ and I’ve realized I haven’t really explained what they are. So, this is my perfect chance to enlighten you, the people of the dog world, to what antioxidants are and why your dog needs them in their diet.

First things first, there are many chemical reactions like digestion and metabolism, that go on in the dog’s body 24/7. Without even trying to, the body produces little leftover molecules from all of these chemical reactions called free radicals. Those radicals are allowed to roam free, and cause oxidative damage to cells which can cause diseases like cancer, and can lead to death.

The body has a few defense mechanisms to combat free radicals, but they can’t keep up with the environmental stressor a dog faces every day. For example, UV rays from the sun, cigarette smoke, car exhaust, industrial fumes and even breathing can increase free radicals formation. Also, age has a factor on free radical destruction. The aging dog has fewer defense mechanisms to combat free radicals and is one explanation to why older dogs have higher cancer rates.

This is where antioxidants come into the picture.

Antioxidants take high energy free radicals, and dissipates their energy so they cannot cause damage.

Let’s make it simpler: Antioxidants are like oven mitts and free radicals are like a hot potato. If you take a hot potato out of an oven with lots of heat and hold it, it will burn your hand. But, if you take it out of the oven with oven mitts and pass it around from place to place while the heat dissipates, there will be less to no damage to your hand.

All in all, free radicals can cause a lot of damage to our dog’s body but our dogs can be protected easily by supplementing antioxidant rich foods in their diet! Stay tuned for next week when I highlight one of my favourite antioxidant-rich foods!

Happy Eating!