A few weeks ago, we took a look at a couple of essential nutrients your pet needs to support his body’s functions. But aside from the basics—water, carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals—there are also other nutrients that keep your pet in tip-top shape.

So what exactly should you look for when you’re shopping for pet food? Dr. Marco Ripoll, veterinarian and technical manager of Animal Science, Inc., explains them for us.


Antioxidants are nutrients that protect the body from free radicals, which can cause severe damage to an organism’s cells. Examples of antioxidants include Vitamins A, C, and E, and carotenoids like lycopene and lutein, selenium, and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA).

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate are naturally occuring substances that help in the formation and repair of cartilage. However, as your pooch ages, his ability to produce these substances slows down, resulting in joint pain and inflammation. An extra dose of these nutrients will help decrease your pet’s risk of developing arthritis when he’s older.

Although they sound a bit unhealthy, fatty acids are actually vital for your pooch’s health. Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential nutrient for the maintenance of your pet’s cell membranes, can help give your pooch healthy skin and a supple coat. It also boosts the immune system and decreases inflammation in pets battling with diseases. Common sources of Omega-3 include fish, shellfish, and flaxseed.

Omega-6 fatty acids can improve your pet’s brain development, immune system, and metabolism, as well as your pooch’s skin and coat. It can usually be found in vegetables, poultry, and pork, making it easier to obtain than Omega-3 fatty acids.

Make sure that you give your pet equal amounts of both Omega-3 and Omega-6, as an imbalance can actually be detrimental to your pooch’s health.

(Illustration by Sabrina Lajara)

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