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Essential Nutrients for Dogs and Cats: Other Nutrients & Nutraceuticals

Essential Nutrients for Dogs and Cats: Other Nutrients & Nutraceuticals

Certain pet foods will include additional nutrients that don’t necessarily fall into the categories of standard nutrients like vitamins, minerals, proteins or carbohydrates. Water, for instance, is another irreplaceable nutrient that doesn’t conveniently fit within these categories, but it is critical for every living creature.

Other nutrients, often referred to as “nutraceuticals,” can be very beneficial for your dog or cat, even if some aren’t essential parts of a pet’s diet.

Seven kinds of other nutrients and nutraceuticals

Below you’ll find more information on the various forms of additional nutrients, the unique roles they play in your pet’s health and the kinds of food that provide them.


These nutrients work on a cellular level to protect your pet from what’s called “free radicals”. Antioxidants can help fight against the effects of ultraviolets, pollution, stress, and poor diet.

Which foods are good sources of antioxidants?
A popular source of antioxidants for humans is wine, but of course you should never serve your pet alcohol. Other foods with these nutrients include:
  • Fruits, like lemons, oranges, melons, and tomatoes
  • Cereal germs
  • Green tea leaves


Joint issues can become a real problem for older pets, especially big dogs. That’s why a diet with glucosamine can be helpful. This nutrient takes part in the development of joint cartilage, adding to its elasticity. As a dog ages, glucosamine helps to prevent the destruction of older cartilage.

Which foods are good sources of glucosamine?
There aren’t a lot of food sources for glucosamine. It can be pulled from some crustaceans, like shrimp.


Must like glucosamine, chondroitin is an ingredient in the cartilage make up in your pet’s joints. The nutrient absorbs the impact put on your dog or cat’s joints, and adds to the elasticity. It also works with glucosamine to help create new cartilage.

Which foods are good sources of chondroitin?
Chondroitin isn’t naturally available in many foods. It’s often extracted from the cartilage of other animals, including:
  • Fish
  • Seashells
  • Pork
  • Chicken

New Zealand Green Mussel

These mussels are found along the New Zealand coast. They act as a filter, catching a lot of essential nutrients found in the seawater. The New Zealand green mussel has elements that help your pet with arthritic inflammation, including:
  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Chondroitin
  • Glutamine
  • Vitamins E and C
  • Trace elements (zinc, copper, and manganese)
Pulling nutrients from the New Zealand Green Mussel
Experts must very carefully extract the nutrients from the mussel. They pull out the therapeutic portions of the mussel in powder form.

Aloe Vera
People use aloe vera often to heal sunburns. Luckily, this plant has even more health benefits your pet can take advantage of. Put on the skin or ingested, aloe vera can help keep your dog or cat’s skin healthy and heal skin wounds.

Pulling the nutrients from aloe vera
Aloe vera is actually a plant found most often in Africa and Mexico. The extract from the plant holds the healing properties that benefit our pets. The most effective extracts from the aloe vera leaves.


The food industry often uses curcumin as a food coloring, helping turn products yellow. However, the nutrient has healing benefits for dogs and cats. Curcumin can act like an antibacterial, helping heal wounds on the surface of your pet’s skin and acting as an anti-inflammatory under the skin.

Where to find curcumin in nature
In nature, curcumin is an extract. It’s pulled from turmeric, a plant in the ginger family.


This nutrient most often works on the health of a dog or cat’s digestive system. Not only do zeolites absorb extra water in your pet’s system, but also absorb toxins to protect the animal. It also absorbs calcium, helping in the process to build stronger bones.

Where to find zeolite in nature
The most common place to find zeolite is in volcanic rock. When used in food, the nutrient is extracted from the rock.

Learn More

For more information on your pets diet and important elements to look for in cat or dog food, contact your local Banfield Pet Hospital and speak with one of our pet experts.

Also ask your Banfield veterinarian about which Optimum Wellness Plan® works best for your pet. With so many plans for dogs and cats of all ages, it’s easy to find one that offers great preventive care. All plans include early screening for serious illness and discounts on most Banfield products and services.

You can also learn more by reading in the Nutrition section of Banfield.com, including these articles below:
Source: 2012 Royal Canin Nutrient Guide