The heartbreaking part of having a dog is their relatively short lifespan. Life expectancy for dogs has improved with diet and care standards, but the time to say goodbye still comes all too soon. Dr. Kelly M. Cassidy, a Biologist who compiles scientific data about the lifespan of dogs, has concluded that canine longevity varies widely by breed and/or weight. However, there are natural supplements we can give our dogs to ensure they live longer, healthier lives, no matter what their breed or size is.
To extend a dog’s (or human’s) lifespan using natural foods and supplements, you need to seek out properties that benefit organ and cellular function, protect them from toxins, and prevent diseases that can cut their life short.
Focus on Diet: Antioxidants and Phytochemicals for Dogs
Grass-fed beef, free-range chicken… most of us know dogs thrive on a diet based on high-quality protein. What some pet parents don’t know is dogs are omni-carnivorous, which means they can digest and benefit from vegetation even though their primary diet is meat-based. If you focus on Antioxidants and Phytochemicals for this portion of their diet, your dog will enjoy many health benefits as well as an extended lifespan.
Antioxidants fight oxidative damage, like damage caused by free radicals. They have been proven to protect against aging, toxins, and many life-threating diseases (from cancer to cataracts). Antioxidants can be either fat-soluable or water-soluable, and include Vitamins A, C (Ascorbic Acid) and E, CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10/Ubiquinone), Astaxanthin, Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA), Polyphenols and Glutathione. You can buy natural supplements that provide a combination of antioxidants. Spark for dogs is an exceptional daily supplement that is often recommended by holistic veterinarians and DVM’s alike. You can also find manufactured versions of the better-known antioxidants in stores.
Phytochemicals include Flavonoids, Carotenoids, Genestein, Sulforaphane, Indoles, Saponins, P-coumaric Acid and Chlorogenic Acid. There are several thousand known Phytochemicals and potentially thousands more that are yet to be discovered. Tomatoes alone are thought to contain 10,000 Phytochemicals! Studies have shown promising results in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and type II diabetes.
“Researchers have found that phytochemicals have the potential to stimulate the immune system, prevent toxic substances in the diet from becoming carcinogenic, reduce inflammation, prevent DNA damage and aid DNA repair, reduce oxidative damage to cells, slow the growth rate of cancer cells, trigger damaged cells to self-destruct (apoptosis) before they can reproduce, help regulate intracellular signaling of hormones and gene expression, and activate insulin receptors,” writes Densie Webb, PhD, RD, for Today’s Dietitian.
While some Phytochemicals have been isolated for supplements, you’re much better off feeding whole foods known to contain them to ensure they will benefit your dog. This is because scientific research identifying specific benefits and their source is scarce. The benefits may be due to one Phytochemical, or a combination of Phytochemicals or nutrients in the food. Foods rich in Phytochemicals that are safe for dogs include dark leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cooked cabbage, ripe tomatoes, and berries.
8 Natural Supplements to Help Your Dog Live Longer
- Calcium Montmorillonite Clay has a chelating effect that drags toxins out of the body without allowing them to harm your dog. Heavy metals, radiation, and mycotoxins are just a few toxins that Calcium Montmorillonite Clay can protect your best friend from. It can also be used as a toothpaste to prevent dental disease (which can negatively impact many organs, including the kidneys and heart). It may also prevent arthritis.
- Seaweed and algae offer a range of antioxidants and phytochemicals, as well as more vitamins and minerals than any other vegetation. They also provides trace elements (like Zinc) that improve the effectiveness of antioxidants, as well as facilitating the production of antioxidants by the body itself. Seaweed has been studied for cancer treatment and prevention, toxin removal, inflammation reduction, and internal alkalinity balance.
- Green Acerola Fruit may contain an astounding 17,000 grams of Vitamin C (100 grams of oranges offer just 50 mg of Vitamin C). It also has Provitamin A and other components that enhance the antioxidative effects of Vitamin C. Other anti-aging and overall health contributions include Carotene, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Magnesium.
- Burdock Root (Arctium lappa) has powerful antioxidants that pack even more punch when combined with Vitamin E. It also helps to control cell mutation, which may prevent cancer. Burdock root is a source of Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Thiamin and Riboflavin. It is best known for liver and blood detoxing, as well as conditions related to liver deficiencies like skin problems or metabolic disorders resulting from inflammation. Chemical elements in Burdock Root have been shown to remove environmental toxins from the body.
- Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a source of both antioxidants and phytochemicals. It supports capillary walls, red blood cells, the nervous system and vision. Bilberry is also thought to lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots and lower blood sugar (glucose) levels. It’s anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic.
- Green Tea contains polyphenols, including phytochemicals with antioxidant properties. It’s rich in Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), Catechin, and the amino acid L-theanine. It has shown promising results in the prevention of cancer, type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases, while also improving dental health. It does contain caffeine so use in moderation. Use diluted tea, not extract.
- Turmeric (Curcumin) is a source of phytochemicals and antioxidants, including Glutathione. It has been found to stop precancerous cells within DNA as well as interfering with enzymes necessary for cancer progression. It prevents cholesterol oxidation which prevents plaque formation in the arteries. Curcumin blocks toxic compounds and shows promise in cataract prevention.
- Krill – Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants and Krill is packed with it, along with unsurpassed levels of bio-available Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (HUFA) and Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), and an exceptionally high level Omega 3 fatty acids. Whole Krill supplements offer a vast number of benefits by comparison to extracts like Krill oil. Whole Krill is used for cardiovascular health, joint conditions, heart and liver fat reduction, immunity enhancement, skin and coat health, appetite stimulation, anxiety reduction, and as a source of vitamins and minerals. Krill oil is generally an Omega 3 supplement, limiting its benefits to those associated with Omega 3.
The best way to get these life-extending foods and supplements into your dog is through a homemade diet… especially treats!
Note of Caution: It is important to consult with your veterinarian before making dietary changes. Supplements may aggravate existing conditions or interact with medication.
How are you helping your dog live longer? Please share your best tips in the comments below.
Tilford, Gregory. Wulff, Mary. Herbs for Pets: The Natural Way to Enhance Your Pet’s Life. 2009.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Herbal Healing 2012.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Top 12 Natural Supplements for Senior Dogs (Infographic)
Heart Health for Natural Pets (with Recipe)
Natural Treatment and Prevention of Canine Cataracts
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