Pet parents frequently tell me that staying on top of all their pet’s health needs feels like a daunting task. Especially since they know their beloved companions are surrounded by pollutants and toxins in their homes, yards, and even the local park.
Breaking down a pet’s needs to the basics seems to help many frustrated owners take better control. Perhaps you’ll find it helpful, too, when you’re feeling the same way.
Here’s what I tell them…
There are three important aspects to a pet’s well-being, which I call “The Three Pillars of Health.” They include:
- Species-appropriate nutrition
- A sound, resilient body, which includes muscle tone, body weight, teeth, and internal organs
- A balanced, functional immune system to protect your pet from pathogens
The interesting thing about these three pillars is this… If I don’t address all three of these pillars in my patient, total health cannot occur.
Taking care of the first two aspects is pretty straightforward… Feeding your pet the diet his body was designed for and thrives upon. Taking care of her teeth, skin, and coat. Even digestion and gut health are fairly easy to check off the list.
You can cover these aspects with regular teeth brushing and oral exams, making sure your pet gets extra omega-3 fatty acids like krill oil in his diet, and providing digestive enzymes and probiotics to help support digestion and a healthy gut.
However, when it comes to immune health, things become a bit murkier… Many owners don’t fully understand what’s involved, much less where to start.
Well I’m going to de-mystify this third important aspect of your pet’s well-being so you can better understand how to support your pet’s immune health…
Why Your Pet’s Immune Health Matters
From an early age, your pet explores his world with all his senses. Obviously, you can’t control where he sniffs and licks, but you can help support his immune system to cope with whatever he comes in contact with.
This is simpler to do with a younger pet whose immune system is operating at full tilt. As your pet ages, her immune function declines and may require more support.
Everyday stress, pollutants and toxins, excessive vaccines, certain ingredients in pet foods, and various health conditions produce free radicals in your pet’s body which can affect immune function.
Free radicals – or damaged and highly unstable oxygen molecules with a single unpaired electron – travel around your pet's body looking for electrons to steal from stable molecules.
Once they’re successful at swiping the electrons they need, they leave behind new unstable molecules, or more free radicals.
This process is called "oxidation," and once it begins, it can produce a dangerous chain reaction that generates more and more free radicals in the body, placing stress on your pet’s immune function.
Exposing the Mystery Behind Oxidation and Immune Health
You know what happens when you slice an apple and leave it exposed to air - it turns brown or “oxidizes.”
This oxidation occurs because the cells in the fruit have been damaged. The oxygen in the air reacts with enzymes in the fruit, creating a rust-like appearance on the surface, not unlike what happens to a bicycle left out in the rain.
However, you’ve probably discovered that if you dip apple slices in lemon juice right after you cut them, they don’t turn brown. This is because the natural antioxidants in the fruit juice halt the oxidation process.
Oxidation in your pet’s body is much the same. Just as a browning piece of cut fruit damages the fruit, free radicals can cause damage in your pet’s body, potentially leading to less-than-optimal health as well as premature aging.
Studies show that free radicals can hit the cells in the body 10,000 times each day, breaking down and weakening cell membranes. And they have been shown to knock out the communication pathways between immune system cells.
The oxidative stress resulting from free radical damage can also weaken and damage cellular DNA, or the “blueprint” of your pet’s cells.
Cells depend on their DNA to tell them what to do and when to divide. If a cell becomes damaged, it can’t function optimally. DNA is so important to cell health that scientists now believe that DNA damage may be a big part of the aging process and can possibly affect normal cell division and growth.
The Role of Antioxidants in Cellular Health
We already talked about how antioxidant-packed lemon juice protects fruit cells from oxidation.
It’s not much different with your pet’s cells.
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help bodies fight off the harmful effects of oxidation and keep cells healthy.
Antioxidants help protect your pet's cells from free radical damage by:
- Neutralizing oxidizing free radicals, leaving them less harmful
- Reducing oxidative stress in your pet's body and protecting his cells' delicate DNA
- Supporting cellular, tissue, and organ health
As an extra bonus, certain antioxidants can cross your pet's blood-brain and blood-retina barriers, making them especially valuable for protecting delicate brain, nerve, and eye tissues.
In Beth Taylor's and my book Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, you’ll find lots of tips and recipes for adding antioxidant-rich foods to a well-balanced, species-specific raw food diet.
Even if you’re feeding your pet a commercial diet now, you can boost the nutritional value of the food by mixing in some finely chopped, antioxidant-rich produce like collard greens, spinach, kale, carrots, or cooked sweet potatoes.
No matter what type of diet you feed your pet, he likely has a tremendous need for antioxidants because of the reasons we just talked about. And of all the antioxidants I recommend to pet parents, there's one that stands head and shoulders above the crowd – in every way a true “king.”
This ‘King’ of the Carotenoid Antioxidants Performs Like No Other in Its Class
A while back, scientists discovered a class of naturally occurring pigments called carotenoids that showed potent health-supporting, antioxidant properties.
Carotenoids are the compounds in foods that provide vibrant color — from green grasses to red beets, to the brilliant yellows and oranges of bell peppers. They are even responsible for the beautiful rainbow of colors found in flowers.
Recently, one particular carotenoid has become the focus of a large and growing number of peer-reviewed scientific studies. It has certainly attracted my attention for the potential it holds for my veterinary patients.
Even though it’s a member of the carotenoid family along with beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, astaxanthin outperforms all the others in its ability to scavenge free radicals:
- 550 times more powerful than vitamin E
- 65 times more powerful than vitamin C
- 54 times more powerful than beta-carotene
- 5 times more powerful than lutein
In fact, scientists believe astaxanthin is nature’s most powerful antioxidant.
Its strong free radical scavenging ability is what helps astaxanthin protect cells, organs, and tissues from oxidative damage so well. It’s also far more effective than other carotenoids at “singlet oxygen quenching” – a type of oxidation that occurs with sunlight.
What I Like Best About Astaxanthin
Astaxanthin provides potential benefits to protected parts of the body that aren’t normally reached by most other antioxidants.
Unlike beta-carotene and lycopene, astaxanthin can cross the blood-brain and blood-retina barriers to support brain, eye, and central nervous system health.
Astaxanthin has some other important properties, too, that may influence how it supports your pet’s health:
- It protects both the water- and the fat-soluble parts of cells, inside and outside the cell, and can penetrate every part of the body, including the eye
- Combines with membrane tissue and becomes a “cell membrane bridge” to help escort free radicals out of cells
- It's a potent UVB light absorber and helps reduce DNA damage
Unlike other antioxidants that can only handle one free radical at a time, astaxanthin can handle more than 19 free radicals – and multiple types – all at once.
Could Astaxanthin Support Your Pet’s Health, Too?
In recent years, researchers have studied the potential health effects of astaxanthin with both dogs and cats. Other extensive studies have been performed with mice.
Studies suggest these potential benefits when animals receive supplemental astaxanthin:
- Helps support a healthy normal immune response
- May help support cardiovascular health
- May help support joint and muscle recovery after exercise
- Helps support cellular mitochondrial function and energy production
- May help support comfortable, flexible movement
Nearly all the cells in your pet’s body contain mitochondria, the part of the cell that produces energy. Often called the “powerhouse” of cells, mitochondria are an important area in need of support for any age dog or cat – which is exactly what astaxanthin provides.
I think you can see by now all the potential benefits that astaxanthin offers for every cell in your pet’s body.
The 5-Point Test for Choosing an Astaxanthin Formula
Even though it’s in the carotenoid family, you can’t get astaxanthin from fruits and vegetables.
Nor can your pet’s body produce its own. Humans and animals must obtain it from their diet, which isn’t easy to do unless you happen to be a marine animal.
The only way to get astaxanthin naturally is to eat something that's in the food chain of the original source. Astaxanthin occurs in krill, salmon, algae, plants, and a few fungi and bacteria.
The most valuable type of astaxanthin is produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. The algae produces the molecule for its own survival when its food supply dries up. Astaxanthin serves as a "force field" to protect the algae from lack of nutrition or intense sunlight.
I recommend you look for five things when choosing an astaxanthin product for your pet:
- Make sure it’s created from marine microalgae and not fungus or other less effective forms
- Look for a formula that contains some type of oil or fatty acid to help maximize absorption
- Make sure it’s made using astaxanthin “oil” instead of powder which can cause costly formulation stability challenges
- Purchase only formulas that are guaranteed stable and effective by the manufacturer (insist on an airtight capsule or the newer airless pump containers so you know it will stay fresh to the last drop)
- Only buy products that are manufactured without applying synthetic chemical solvents, preservatives, impurities, and residues
Sometimes it can be difficult to know for sure that a product meets this 5-point test. Your best bet is to assume it doesn’t if the points aren’t clearly stated.
Although synthetic astaxanthin is routinely used for adding color to farmed salmon, it’s not commonly seen as a supplement for animals. However, that could change in the future…
If you do happen to see synthetic astaxanthin, avoid it at all costs as it’s made from petrochemicals.
With My Pet Astaxanthin, There’s No Guessing
I decided to develop my own Astaxanthin for dogs and cats since it is so challenging to find a product that meets my stringent criteria.
You can be assured that my Astaxanthin:
- Is made with Organic Astaxanthin.
- Is created using Haematococcus pluvialis microalgae and not fungus.
- Contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) to help maximize absorption.
- Is made using astaxanthin “oil” instead of powder to enhance stability.
- Is formulated without chemical solvents.
- Contains no preservatives, impurities or residues.
- Is carefully monitored and tested for purity, showing a high concentration of Astaxanthin isomers and the absence of microbiological and heavy metal contamination.
You get an unexpected bonus with my Astaxanthin – medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs provide an immediate source of fuel and energy for your pet and they promote optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.
MCTs are also known for their ability to enhance athletic performance and may even help support your pet’s ideal weight. A real win-win.
Here’s What Else I Love About My Pet Astaxanthin…
My Astaxanthin for dogs and cats comes in a simple-to-use spray pump.
Not only does it make Astaxanthin easier to use, our airless pump technology keeps the product fresher, too.
The airless technology helps preserve the fragile oils from oxygen intrusion and keeps your astaxanthin fresh until the last drop. It’s the only product on the market that offers remarkable stability in an easy-to-administer pump.
Ease of use was foremost on my mind when I developed my Astaxanthin. So that’s why I decided to make a spray that is simple to use, and easy to portion according to your pet’s weight, so you get the correct portion every time. Plus I’m sure you won’t miss cutting open messy, oily capsules…
And because there’s no taste to my Astaxanthin, you won’t need to worry about your picky feline or canine giving it a nose “thumbs down.” No need to “pill” your pet or give nasty tasting concoctions – two common barriers gone.
Are You Ready to Send Those Pesky Free Radicals Packing?
I think you’ll agree that it’s time to give those unwanted free radicals in your pet’s body a one-way ticket out… They’re not helping your pet, and they may be causing him harm.
Give your pet’s immune health the valuable support it may need with the antioxidant that gets the job done tirelessly… again… and again.
Order your supply of Astaxanthin today!
Q: What is the shelf life for Astaxanthin?
A: My Astaxanthin contains a unique blend of high-quality ingredients that have a shelf life of 12 months. We don’t need to add artificial preservatives like some other products because the special airless pump design keeps out oxygen that could make the oil go rancid.
Q: I give my pet Krill Oil. Doesn’t that provide enough astaxanthin?
A: While krill may be a valuable source of astaxanthin, there’s only a very small amount of astaxanthin in krill oil. To experience the full benefits of astaxanthin, using both Krill Oil and Astaxanthin in conjunction is ideal.
Q: Can I give my dog or cat Astaxanthin if he receives SpiruGreen?
A: Yes, you can safely give your dog or cat both. Spirugreen does not give your pet a large dose of astaxanthin, and he can benefit from taking both products. My Astaxanthin supplement will provide your pet with additional antioxidants to support his health.
Q: Are there any side effects that can occur with Astaxanthin?
A: There are no known side effects or concerns about toxicity from using too much astaxanthin with dogs or cats. The only concern with extremely high doses might be the development of an orange tint to the skin. This can be seen in marine environment animals like salmon, shrimp, and flamingos that consume large amounts of astaxanthin as a key part of their diet.
Q: Which concentration of Astaxanthin is right for my pet?
A: There are two different Astaxanthin products specific to your pet’s weight. If you have a cat or dog under 29 lbs, purchase the Astaxanthin for cats and small dogs. If your pet weighs over 30 lbs, purchase the Astaxanthin for medium to giant dogs. The only difference between the two Astaxanthin products is concentration. For example, the Astaxanthin for medium to giant dogs has the same amount of liquid, but twice the concentration for ease and convenience at dosage time.