As our dogs age, natural astaxanthin gives them the added support they need to maintain quality of life. Astaxanthin is the plant-based nutrient that gives salmon its distinctive red color, although most dogs don’t eat enough of it to benefit from its astaxanthin. However, studies show dogs can profit by taking supplements containing AstaReal® astaxanthin from algae.


Supporting mobility, cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and vision can improve the lives of aging dogs. All of these functions depend on healthy organs that need a lot of energy to do their jobs: skeletal muscle, heart, brain, and eyes. This energy is made by the powerhouses of the cell — mitochondria. In a study involving aging dogs that took natural astaxanthin, the dogs’ mitochondrial ATP production increased by 14%, and their mitochondrial enzymes increased by over 500% after eight weeks. By supporting mitochondria, natural astaxanthin promotes the function of energy-hungry organs critical to maintaining the health of aging dogs.


Older dogs naturally lose muscle mass and strength, making it harder for them to maintain mobility. A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate progressive muscle loss, and we know that staying active also helps promote cardiovascular health and cognitive function. Natural astaxanthin helps support muscle endurance, recovery, and also boosts the effects of exercise.


Blood flow efficiency declines with age, and blood vessels tend to lose their elasticity, making it harder for nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to reach the organs that need it, such as the muscles, brain, and eyes. Furthermore, as dogs age and become more sedentary, they often gain weight, putting them at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Astaxanthin helps maintain blood flow and supports healthy blood lipid profiles. In a study of young healthy dogs, astaxanthin lowered diacylglyceride levels and serum markers of oxidative stress and inflammation.


The role of astaxanthin in supporting cognitive function is an emerging benefit, with human clinical studies showing improved reaction times and memory. Exercise plays an important role in maintaining brain health and the development of new neurons throughout adulthood. Mice showed more new neuron formation in the hippocampus when exercise was combined with astaxanthin supplementation, compared to just exercise alone. Studies in aging dogs show that dietary antioxidants improve learning, and that astaxanthin crosses the blood-brain barrier where its antioxidant activity protects delicate structures in the brain.


Astaxanthin crosses the blood-retinal barrier and has been found in both the retina and the muscles framing the lens. The muscles around the lens mediate dynamic focus, and human clinical studies have shown that astaxanthin improved the function of these muscles and alleviated eyestrain. In dogs, astaxanthin combined with other ingredients helped slow the progression of refractive error and reduced symptoms of dry eye.

AstaReal® harvests natural astaxanthin from microalgae grown in an indoor cultivation facility near the Columbia River in Washington State. Their research has culminated in over 160 studies on astaxanthin, along with new product developments that deliver all the benefits of AstaReal® Astaxanthin to our beloved companion animals.


IVC Journal is a division of Redstone Media Group. Innovation is the key to veterinarians staying competitive and being able to provide their clients with the absolute best care possible. IVC Journal delivers the most up to date and compelling information available by bridging the gap between the traditional worlds of allopathic and integrative veterinary care.


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