By Darlene Stott
Published: 06/11/2017, edited: 09/21/2021
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If you administer supplements to your dog, you’ve probably heard about resveratrol. Many holistic pet health sites hail the compound as a miracle supplement, claiming that it boosts the immune and cardiovascular systems and decreases the risk of cancer and stroke.
Let's take a look at what resveratrol is and how it can benefit your dog.
What is Resveratrol?
Plants produce resveratrol to protect themselves from bacteria, fungi, other foreign invaders, and water loss. Resveratrol is found in red wine, grape skin, and a variety of plants. Although grapes are dangerous for dogs to consume, resveratrol does not contain the same toxic principles found in grapes, and is safe for dogs.
How Can Resveratrol Benefit Your Dog?
A study conducted in 2015 found that resveratrol both boosts and suppresses the immune system. Resveratrol prompts the white blood cells to release more pro-inflammatory cytokines than usual. White blood cells use these cytokines to communicate with each other when fighting infection. The more cytokines there are, the stronger the immune system.
However, resveratrol simultaneously suppresses the immune system by decreasing the function of neutrophils. These white blood cells fight and kill bacteria during an infection. These conflicting findings make it even more difficult to determine whether resveratrol truly benefits the immune system.
The compound may also prevent cancer, particularly colon and breast cancers, by preventing and slowing the growth of cancer cells. Resveratrol also has antihypertensive properties, and may prevent high blood pressure and cholesterol. It is also thought to promote neurological health, although this has not been confirmed. Some studies suggest it may increase an animal’s lifespan.
Resveratrol in Veterinary Medicine
While these findings seem promising, veterinarians are still investigating the full effects of resveratrol on the canine immune system. It is unclear whether prolonged administration of resveratrol supplements poses any harm to dogs and other animals. More research is needed to determine the side effects of the compound, not just in dogs but in all animals.
Additionally, nearly all the studies that suggest resveratrol is mostly beneficial were conducted on cultured cells, fruit flies, fish, and mice. Though studies show that resveratrol increases these animals’ lifespans, resveratrol will most likely affect dogs differently. There are few studies on the effects of resveratrol in dogs.
Many studies remain optimistic about the health benefits of resveratrol for both canines and humans. However, it may not be the miracle supplement some sources claim it is.
Most healthy dogs will not require resveratrol supplementation, especially since resveratrol should be administered in very small amounts. If you want to add a little extra resveratrol to your dog’s diet, consider feeding them blueberries or peanuts. Both foods contain naturally-occurring resveratrol, in addition to vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy antioxidants.
Never administer any supplements to your dog unless explicitly instructed to do so by a veterinarian. If you believe your dog may benefit from a resveratrol supplement, ask your veterinarian about the benefits and complications before purchasing any supplements or changing your dog’s diet. Only administer supplements in doses recommended by your veterinarian.