in

Nutraceuticals In Dog Food, Functional Foods And Supplements

When nature helps our dogs and cats.

Nutraceuticals In Pet Food, Functional Foods And Supplements.

Nutraceuticals in dog food. How often do we hear about nutraceuticals and functional foods? But what are they? What uses do they find in veterinary medicine? Let’s find out together.

The word Nutraceutical

The term ‘nutraceutical‘ was coined in 1989 by Stephen L. DeFelice, who combined the words ‘nutrition’ and ‘pharmaceutical’ to indicate those products that can fall into the category of food and medicine, i.e. natural substances capable of improving health.

If we think of the historical moment we live, where our animals and we are immersed in ultra-processed food that is not genuine, food products with added value are increasingly important.

For us and our dogs and cats, poor eating habits are one of the main risk factors for developing chronic diseases.

Nutraceuticals

Neutraceuticals are different from medicines, whose purposes are pharmacological and are administered in the doses indicated by the physician for treating a specific disease.

Nutraceuticals derived from plants, foodstuffs, and microbial sources provide health benefits, including disease prevention and treatment.

Functional Foods

Functional Foods for pets.
A nutraceutical is a food or fortified food product that not only supplements the diet but also helps to treat or prevent disease, thus providing medical benefits.

The definition of functional food originated in Japan in 1984 to denote a food capable of improving human health. We are talking about foods, not supplements or drugs.

Functional foods not only provide essential nutrients for survival but also serve to improve well-being and quality of life.

Cats are carnivores, dogs are opportunistic carnivores, i.e. they can also partially digest starch.

A portion of food can be defined as functional if it has been shown to benefit one or more biological functions of the body.

But what are these functional foods?

They can be ordinary foods (such as vegetables, fruit or sprouts) or foods to which something has been removed or added (e.g. yoghurt with specific bacterial strains added, drinks with added vitamins and minerals, products with added fibres, etc.).

Superfood for dogs and cats

Functional foods have also been studied in dogs and cats to optimise their health. Our animals have significant differences in digestion: while cats are carnivores, dogs are opportunistic carnivores, i.e. they can also partially digest starch. In addition, both dogs and cats have relatively short gastrointestinal tracts.

Good functional foods for our four-legged friends include fruit, vegetables and botanicals.

Food fibres, including those found in dog and cat food, can modify the intestinal microbiota, decrease the rate of gastric emptying, dilute food calories and improve and increase faecal excretion.

But be careful: fruit and vegetables should always be given in moderate quantities to avoid unpleasant fermentation processes and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Supplements

Supplements increase the regular diet and ensure the correct intake of specific components (vitamins and minerals).

Dogs and cats are essential, especially when following a home diet: the veterinary nutritionist will always include a mineral-vitamin supplement to balance the daily ration.

Compared to those intended for us humans, these products are called feeds and not supplements and, as such, follow specific regulations.

A varied, fresh diet rich in functional foods and proper mineral-vitamin supplementation are the basis of prevention for us and our pets.

Specific nutraceutical products can then be added to prevent and treat certain situations.

Nutraceuticals for dogs and cats: which products are most used?

Nutraceuticals for dogs and cats: which products are most used?
Over the years, nutraceuticals have attracted considerable interest due to their potential nutritional, safety and therapeutic effects.

The most widely used nutraceuticals in dogs and cats are those for maintaining bone and joint function, digestive health, cognitive health, and skin and coat care.

In cats, products for urinary tract infections, prevention of kidney disease, and promoting the elimination of hairballs dominate.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Vomiting and diarrhoea are among the most frequent reasons for a visit to the vet, so the health of the gastrointestinal tract is vital for pets and owners.

The most common reasons for gastroenteric symptoms are dietary variations or so-called food indiscretions (i.e., eating things they shouldn’t eat) and viral forms.

Of course, far more severe organic causes cause diarrhoeal symptoms. Still, increased intestinal transit and liquid faeces always lead to a loss of fluid and reduced absorption of nutrients.

Which nutraceuticals are most suitable in this case?

Prebiotics and probiotics certainly help the altered bacterial flora restore itself.

Fatty acids and Omega-3

When we talk about Omega-3 essential fatty acids, we are referring to EPA and DHA, two vital molecules in the well-being of our dogs and cats.

DHA is crucial in developing neuronal and retinal tissue, cognitive learning, and memory in puppies, so supplementation during pregnancy and lactation is recommended.

Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatory agents capable of reducing systemic inflammation.

Antioxidants

As waste elements, cells usually produce free radicals, i.e. highly reactive molecules kept at bay by the body’s antioxidant systems.

If, however, these molecules exceed their capacity to be eliminated due to natural ageing, overeating, nutritional deficiencies or inflammatory diseases, we speak of ‘oxidative stress’.

Oxidative stress can trigger processes that speed up ageing and can lead to the development of degenerative diseases. Again, Nutraceutics comes to our aid with antioxidants.

We have several that we can use for our dogs and cats: vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamin C is crucial in metabolic processes but is not essential in dogs: they can synthesise it themselves.

However, during intense exercise, in elderly dogs or during stressful periods, the need for vitamin C may exceed the body’s ability to synthesise it. In these cases, it should be supplemented.

  • Other substances with antioxidant activity are bioflavonoids. These molecules have many different functions: the primary ones are to increase the strength of the blood capillaries and regulate permeability. They also reduce the amount of histamine released by the cells (quercitin is also used as an antihistamine) and improve the absorption and utilisation of vitamin C. They are also involved in maintaining health and collagen. They are found in various plant species, such as chamomile, celery, capers, grapes and apples.
  • Medium- and short-chain triglycerides are found in coconut oil. They have numerous benefits, such as aiding and supporting cognitive function in older dogs, improving skin health, and reducing chronic inflammation. These triglycerides are widely used in diets for both enteropathic and epileptic subjects. Numerous studies show that such a diet with high utilisation of short-chain fatty acids benefits epileptic seizures.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant and a cofactor in several reactions necessary for energy production. It is used in the management of heart disease in dogs and cats. But that’s not all: it is also used to prevent periodontal disease, gastrointestinal health and immune power. You can find it in the following:
    • Fatty fish such as Trout, Mackerel or Sardines.
    • Organ meats such as beef heart, beef liver, chicken heart and liver
    • All forms of meat, such as Beef, Chicken, Pork, and Reindeer.
    • Vegetables

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

Affiliate Disclosure: The Frenchie Breed website may receive a small commission from the proceeds of any product(s) sold through affiliate and direct partner links at no cost to you.

Follow Frenchie Breed on Google News

+ posts

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

Leave a Reply

What do you think?

357 Points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

Can You Spot Three Animals And Two Objects In 15 Seconds?

Can You Spot Three Animals And Two Objects In 15 Seconds?

Why Do Dogs Bark In Their Sleep? A Must-Read.

Why Do Dogs Bark In Their Sleep? Causes and Solutions