The literature provides many examples of the role of dietary antioxidants to protect DNA damage in dogs. The most common ones noted are vitamins C and E although some of the science has been looking deeper and this is where vitamin B2 (riboflavin) comes in.
Riboflavin is involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates as well as – and this is key for the purpose of our discussion - the reduction of free radicals in the metabolic pathways. It's also working as an antioxidant because it's involved in the regeneration of a free radical scavenger called glutathione.
The absorptive cells in the small intestine (enterocytes) can have decreased efficiency due to the ageing process, so even though the diet may be great, the actual amount of B2 being received and utilized is always questionable. Also, the canine athlete needs a greater number of antioxidants than the couch potato. Not all these athletes are necessarily youngsters, so B2 can play an even more important role.
Given that the risk of cancer is greater as our dogs age, it makes sense to focus not only on antioxidants, but also their pathways, and that's the biggest point of this newsletter.
Vitamin B2 is abundant in meat, but the actual amount varies based on the species and of course how much of a certain meat is being fed and how it was processed. Diets that are based on percentages sometimes miss the mark and giving a dog a vitamin B supplement once weekly may not be sufficient. That's because B vitamins are water soluble, so excess is excreted via urine. The diet may have provided enough B2 for X number of days, but not the rest of the week or month. This becomes even more concerning for dogs with certain diseases that translate to frequent urination in greater volume.
We have seen home-prepared diets that are deficient in B2, and some that make us question the amount for a certain dog at risk. Dogs with GI issues, seniors, puppies, athletes and reactive dogs are prime examples of what might prompt us to add a vitamin B compound (always best to use the full array of Bs than to single out B2). We always look to foods as the preferred source of nutrients, but it's critical to balance the diet in a way that takes the whole dog into consideration.
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