Heart disease is another health issue related to oxidative
stress. A study published in Veterinary Medicine
International 5 said that heart failure was one of the
main causes of death for domestic carnivores. Well
adapted nutrition it said, “constitutes a major asset to
improve the well-being and life expectancy” of these
companion animals. A study found that in dogs with
heart failure, their cellular metabolism isn’t working
properly, leading to production of a large number of free
radicals. However, a proper diet supplemented with the
right blend of vitamins and polyphenols can increase
the concentration of antioxidants to help neutralize free
radicals and improve the canine’s cellular metabolism.
Anthocyanin: A Powerful Polyphenol
Among antioxidants, one particular group of compounds
called anthocyanins has excited the medical and
scientific community as specific benefits associated
with them are identified and studied. Anthocyanins
are found abundantly in brightly colored fruits and
vegetables and responsible for bright red-orange
and blue-violet pigmentation. The concentration of
anthocyanin within any given food type will vary.
Links have been found between anthocyanins and
cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive function.
Flavonoids like anthocyanins can aid with memory
and help stem the tide of age-related cognitive
decline. Several factors are at work here, including their
ability to inhibit neuroinflammation and improving
blood flow to the brain. One more important factor
is that certain anthocyanins can cross the blood
brain barrier, making them more effective in a direct
fashion in terms of beneficial cognitive effects.
One animal study of aged rats, which were fed
blueberries,6 revealed a relationship between
cognitive performance tested in a maze, and the
total number of anthocyanin compounds found
in the cortex. The anthocyanins or polyphenolic
compounds in the blueberries were able to cross
the blood brain barrier and localize in various brain
regions important for learning and memory.
A series of studies looked at the memory response or
brain aging in older dogs and found that an antioxidant enriched
diet enabled the dogs to learn complex tasks
with greater success than the dogs fed a control diet
without antioxidants.7 And yet another study found
that older dogs fed an antioxidant-enriched diet
displayed cognitive improvement within two weeks of
starting the enriched diet, and when combined with
mental stimulation, the effects were “even greater.”
Dogs fed a diet high in antioxidants in another study,
could recognize family members and other animals
more easily than the control group. In addition, the
dogs displayed a greater degree of agility with the
anti-inflammatory effects of antioxidants in play.
Antioxidants even have been shown to help dogs
and cats that suffer from allergy or coat and skin
problems. Experts recommend that owners may
want to start antioxidant supplementation while
dogs are still young, rather than waiting until they’re
older, to lower the chance of the dog developing
cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) later in life.8
One study in a veterinary journal about
oxidative stress in canines emphasized “the
most important aspect of this work is the
discovery that cognitive performance can be
improved by dietary manipulation, and that
“antioxidants may potentially act, therefore, to
prevent the development of …age-associated
behaviors and possibly even neuropathology
by counteracting oxidative stress.”
Role of Antioxidants and Natural Products in Inflammation.
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity 2016.9
Clearly, the addition of antioxidant-containing
ingredients to kibble or in pet treats can be an
effective means of supplementing the companion
animal diet to effectively counter oxidative stress.
Fruit in pet treats, for example, can add fiber, aid with
texture and humectancy, enhance color and flavor,
and of course, supply antioxidant components that
can combat health concerns related to oxidative
stress. Adding to this list of benefits, fruit and
vegetable ingredients contain no fat and are typically
lower in calories than many other ingredients.
It is possible to add a greater percentage of fruit
to a mix-in or a treat to maximize the potential
phytonutrient content than if it were added within
the formulation of standard kibble. Different
formulations can tailor the fruit content and type
to design treats or mix-ins that target different
animal demographics, such as senior pets.
A listing of some of the potential fruits and vegetables
suitable for canine consumption are listed in the
sidebar. The various phytonutrient benefits associated
with the individual fruits and vegetables are also
listed, although a more thorough explanation is
available through personal consultation with
one of Tree Top Fruit Ingredients Specialists.
Mix-ins or Treats
One option for adding functional benefits to a pet’s
diet is with a superfood mix-in or topper made with
simple and easily recognizable ingredients, such as
fruits mixed with vegetables and/or whole grains. Mixins
supply consumers with an easy method of adding
to standard kibble, a scientifically balanced blend of
simple, wholesome ingredients to help impact weight
management or improve certain health aspects.
Typically, these mix-ins or toppers contain antioxidant rich
ingredients that support overall health and wellbeing,
while the free-from formulations appeal to picky
pet parents. These toppers can be formulated free from
soy, flavor enhancers, added sugar, artificial colors, and
preservatives, and are both gluten- and GMO-free.
The second method of adding antioxidant-rich
ingredients to a pet’s diet is via a chew or treat. A chew
can also combine more than a single fruit ingredient
and be designed for a specific health issue. For example, a combination of berries with a high
anthocyanin content could be designed for the
urban dog to combat the daily stressors that can
cause an oxidative/free radical imbalance. In one
sample, human grade ingredients blend beef
broth, with a variety of fruits selected for their
phytonutrient content, mixed with peanut butter,
some puffed cereal of brown rice and select spices.
Leveraging the antioxidant properties of fruit
and vegetable ingredients for companion
animal formulations can help improve quality
of life, help combat diseases, and help mitigate
the memory loss for a happier, healthier
canine. These naturally tasty ingredients offer
functional benefits, clean label attributes and an
impressive portfolio of phytonutrients that will
please pet parents as they see improvements
in their dog’s health and well-being.
- Apples (acetylcholine) – Supply a source of fiber,
phytonutrients, flavonoids, vitamin C, and potassium.
- Blackberries – America’s home-grown “super” fruit,
blackberries contain high levels of antioxidant
phytonutrients (particularly anthocyanins). Blackberries
supply a good source of manganese, vitamin C, folate
acid and magnesium, and as one of the brightly
colored berries, a good source of anthocyanins.
- Blueberries – High in vitamins and minerals,
including vitamins C and K, and manganese,
as well as a good source of dietary fiber.
- Tart Cherries – Supply a source of fiber, manganese,
vitamin A, vitamin C, and are high in antioxidants.
The anthocyanins in tart cherries may reduce
inflammation, according to some studies.
- Cranberries – A rich source of several vitamins and
minerals, especially vitamin C, manganese, vitamin
E, vitamin K1, and a trace element of copper, as well
as a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
- Pears – Contain a sweet natural flavor and are a
good source of potassium and dietary fiber, while
also supplying vitamin C and vitamin A.
- Pumpkin – A good source of fiber that
helps support healthy digestion.
- Spinach – High in vitamins A, B, C and K. Spinach
also contains iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene and
roughage, which stimulates the digestive tract.
- Strawberries – Packed with vitamins, fiber and
high levels of antioxidants; among the top 20
for fruits in antioxidant capacity. Good source of
vitamin C, manganese, folate and potassium.
- Sweet Potatoes – Low in sodium and very low in saturated
fat and cholesterol. Sweet potatoes provide a good source
of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 and potassium and a very
good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese.
Tree Top Forms Available
- Single Strength Fruit Purées
- Concentrated Fruit Purées
- Drum Dried Fruit Flakes
- Regular/Evaporated Moisture Apples
- Low Moisture Apples
- Low Moisture Air-Dried Powders
- Low Moisture Puffed Apples
- Apple Sauce
Custom Pouch Solutions for Your
Contract Co-packaging Needs
- Fruit & Veggie Blends
- Pouch Sizes: 3.2 oz, 4.0 oz, 6.5 oz
- Minimum run size 84,000 pouches
Doug Webster, Director of Research and
Doug Webster has been with Tree Top, Inc. since 2000
and is currently Director of Product Development. In
this role, he leads a research and development team,
creating custom fruit solutions for customers of Tree
Top. Doug earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at
Western Washington University and a Master of Science
in food science from Washington State University.
After completing his masters, he moved to the Yakima
Valley, focusing his endeavors in the hop, wine and fruit
industries. Doug is a winemaker, and until recently, owned
his own winery. He now only makes wine for family and
1. Isaksson, C. (2015), “Urbanization, oxidative stress and
inflammation: a question of evolving, acclimatizing
or coping with urban environmental stress.” Funct
Ecol, 29: 913-923. doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12477
2. Herrera-Dueñas Amparo, Pineda-Pampliega Javier, Antonio-
García María T., Aguirre José I. (2017), “The Influence of
Urban Environments on Oxidative Stress Balance: A Case
Study on the House Sparrow in the Iberian Peninsula.”
Front Ecol Evol, 5. doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2017.00106
3. Alexander, J. E., Colyer, A., Haydock, R. M., Hayek, M. G., & Park,
J. (2017). “Understanding how dogs age: Longitudinal analysis
of markers of inflammation, immune function, and oxidative
stress.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A Biological
Sciences, 73 (6): 720-728 https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glx182
4. Wang, Wei et al. (2016) “Antioxidant supplementation
increases retinal responses and decreases refractive
error changes in dogs.” Journal of Nutritional
Science vol. 5 e18. 10, doi:10.1017/jns.2016.5
5. Sagols, Emmanuelle, and Nathalie Priymenko. (2011)
“Oxidative stress in dog with heart failure: the role of
dietary fatty acids and antioxidants.” Veterinary Medicine
International vol. 2011 180206. doi:10.4061/2011/180206
6. Andres-Lacueva, Cristina et al. (2005) “Anthocyanins
in aged blueberry-fed rats are found centrally and
may enhance memory.” Nutritional Neuroscience
7. Dowling, Amy L S, and Elizabeth Head. (2012) “Antioxidants in
the canine model of human aging.” Biochimica et biophysica
acta vol. 1822,5: 685-9. doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2011.09.020
8. Cotman CW, Head E, Muggenburg BA, et al. (2002) “Brain
aging in the canine: a diet enriched in antioxidants reduces
cognitive dysfunction.” Neurobiol Aging 2002;23:809–818.
9. Arulselvan, Palanisamy et al. (2016) “Role of Antioxidants
and Natural Products in Inflammation.” Oxidative Medicine
and Cellular Longevity, doi:10.1155/2016/5276130
Our R&D department welcomes any customization challenge and we love
working with our clients to create something brand new. We’re ready to
provide innovative ideas, prototypes, packaging alternatives, and the world’s
juiciest, tastiest and most delicious fruit products — naturally.
Contact Tree Top at (800) 367-6571 ext. 1435 or visit treetopingredients.com.
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