Understanding Antioxidants and Prooxidants for Your Dog's Health

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Modern medicine offers of a range of potent chemicals and drugs to treat a wide array of illnesses and conditions. But more and more people are beginning to lean towards more natural methods of balancing good and bad bacteria and fighting infections and diseases from the inside-- for both themselves and their pets.

One such increasingly popular method is with the use of antioxidants and prooxidants. But what even are they? A free radical is a reactive molecule that could damage cells. This can lead to compromised genes, where the cell multiplication process is damaged, which could lead to cancer. Antioxidants lessen the number of free radical related injuries, while pro-oxidants do the exact opposite, they increase the number of free radicals. Still confused? I don’t blame you. This guide will help explain what they do and what they are best for helping.

The Antioxidant Effect

Antioxidants bring with them a whole host of benefits. When free radicals damage cells, disease and infection in your dog is more likely. Antioxidants, though, give electrons to free radicals, breaking the cycle of molecular and cellular damage. This enables them to bolster your dog’s ability to fight off disease.

A 2004 article from Experimental Gerontology helped illustrate their efficacy-they’re safe, easy to administer and are thought to help combat cancer, kennel cough, and a range of other diseases. They aim to naturally balance your dog’s internal cells, making them a worthy investment for many dog owners concerned about the overall health of their dogs.

The Power of Prooxidants

So what exactly is the prooxidant effect? While antioxidants help combat free radicals, prooxidants actually increase the number of free radicals. I know what you're thinking: “What, how, where and why the heck would I do that?” But actually, prooxidants play an essential role in your dog’s body, too.

Prooxidants create an inflammatory response in your dog’s body that is vital to tackle a whole range of diseases and infections. As Márcio Carocho explains in Food and Chemical Toxicology, the best way to think about them, is that they can help bolster your dog’s immune system, enabling them to fight off infections and diseases quicker and more effectively.

So Which One Does My Dog Need: Antioxidants or Prooxidants?

Whilst they both serve different purposes, you actually want to include both in your dog’s diet. Working in conjunction, they will act as a catalyst for your dog’s immune system, ensuring they can fight off infections themselves, requiring less medical intervention.

But where can you find them? Antioxidants are found in a range of fresh fruit and vegetables. Blueberries are particularly rich in antioxidant components. When attacked by free radicals, Vitamin E becomes an effective prooxidant. Vitamin E can be found in raw seeds, spinach and almonds. This is good news, as including fresh fruit, veg and seeds and almonds are easy to add into your dogs diet!


If you’re unsure about whether your dog needs antioxidants or prooxidants, consult your local vet, who will be able to give your further guidance.

Key Points

The concept of using both prooxidants and antioxidants is challenging to get your head around. But instead of thinking of them as on two opposing sides, it is better to think of both of them as effective in different ways. Prooxidants can help bolster your dog’s immune system and antioxidants are thought to help combat canine cancer. They’re found in a host of healthy foods, from seeds to fruit and veg, that can all be used as easy to administer diet supplements.