Glutathione is one of the most important and abundant antioxidants needed to support your dog’s health. It’s found in every cell of his body. Glutathione in dogs is important for its essential roles in energy, liver function and immunity.
What Is Glutathione?
Glutathione is a peptide found in plants and animals. Peptides are amino acids that are the building blocks of certain proteins needed by the skin, like collagen and elastin. It’s made up of the amino acids glutamine, glycine and cysteine. All other antioxidants depend on glutathione to function properly.
Glutathione in dogs is a powerful antioxidant that’s made in his body’s cells. Its levels decrease as a result of aging, stress and exposure to toxins. Boosting glutathione provides many health benefits, including the reduction of oxidative stress that can lead to chronic inflammation and make your dog susceptible to disease and early aging.
Let’s look at why your dog needs glutathione.
What Are The Benefits Of Glutathione?
There are very few things in your dog’s body as important as glutathione. It’s a powerful healing and cleansing agent. Without it, cells would die. And the immune system wouldn’t work and the liver would fail from toxic overload.
Glutathione also eliminates poisons such as drugs and pollutants. Veterinarians have given it to dogs in emergency situations, especially poisoning and toxicity.
Here are reasons glutathione in dogs is important.
Toxins, poor diet and vaccination create free radicals, which lead to oxidative stress and disease. When left unchecked, free radicals cause damage to the cells, proteins and DNA in your dog’s body. Free radical damage is linked to common diseases including cancer, joint disease, heart, liver and kidney disease, as well as premature aging.
As an antioxidant, glutathione helps slow the aging process and boost the immune system by neutralizing free radicals to reduce oxidative stress in your dog.
Supports The Liver
Glutathione is produced by the liver to protect the body against free radicals, peroxides and heavy metals. Glutathione in dogs supports the liver in detoxification. It protects liver cells that are exposed to toxins on a daily basis.
Glutathione is vital in building and repairing tissue. It contains amino acids found within certain proteins needed by the skin like collagen and elastin.
Critical To The Immune System
Glutathione stimulates the production and activation of natural killer (NK) and T cells within the immune system. When glutathione enhances the T cells, they are able to produce more infection-fighting substances to control bacterial, viral and parasitic infections.
Protects The Body’s Energy Source
Mitochondria are the powerhouse in your dog’s cells. They convert glucose, amino acids and fats into energy. Mitochondria rely on glutathione for protection from heavy metals, toxins and free radicals.
Controls Chronic Inflammation
Glutathione controls the increase or decrease of inflammation by instructing and influencing the white blood cells of the immune system. It’s important to have balanced levels of glutathione to reduce chronic inflammation and restore immune function.
What Foods Are High In Glutathione?
The best way to maintain your dog’s glutathione levels is to feed the foods that support and optimize the production of glutathione in the body.
9 Ways To Boost Glutathione In Dogs
Here are some foods you can include in your dog’s diet to boost glutathione levels.
1. Feed Beef, Fish, Poultry And Eggs
These proteins contain the amino acids methionine and cysteine which contain sulfur. And sulfur is needed for the synthesis of glutathione.
2. Feed Beef Liver
Beef liver has been shown to boost selenium and glutathione production better than supplements. Glutathione is concentrated in the liver, so eating liver from a grass-fed, organic cow is more effective at increasing glutathione levels. Plus liver also has selenium and that’s important in glutathione production.
3. Feed Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, watercress and mustard greens contain sulfur (1). Garlic can be fed as well. It also contains sulfur compounds that support the production of glutathione. Studies have been done showing that eating vegetables rich in sulfur increases glutathione levels.
4. Add Mushrooms
A 2017 study found that mushrooms are the highest dietary source of glutathione and ergothioneine, two important antioxidants (2). The amount varies between mushroom species. Maitake, pioppini, lion’s mane, porcini, shiitake, yellow oyster and grey oyster all have good glutathione content. You need to cook mushrooms when feeding them to your dog. But it’s good to know that cooking them doesn’t affect the ergothioneine or glutathione as they’re very heat stable.
5. Increase Foods With Vitamins C And E
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help maintain the body’s supply of other antioxidants including glutathione (3). When vitamins C and E are present to attack free radicals, they free up glutathione for its other important roles. Dogs produce their own vitamin C but they live in a toxic world that increases the need for vitamin C. Providing it in their diet fills this need. There are high levels of vitamin C in many fruits and vegetables but you’ll also find it in organ meats like beef lung, spleen and brain, pork liver, spleen and brain, and chicken liver. Levels will be higher in grass-fed and pastured animals.
Good sources of vitamin E for your dog are brain, heart, liver, tongue, kidneys, eggs, Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, mackerel and herring. Organs and eggs should be from pastured, free-range animals and poultry, and fish should be wild-caught to obtain the highest levels.
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6. Add Foods With Selenium
Selenium is a cofactor so it’s needed to support glutathione activity. Good sources of selenium are beef, chicken, fish and organ meats. They should come from pasture-raised animals.
7. Add Milk Thistle
Milk thistle contains silymarin, which is known for its antioxidant properties. Studies show silymarin has been shown to increase glutathione levels and prevent depletion (4).
8. Use Turmeric Extract
Various studies show that turmeric and curcumin extract has the ability to increase glutathione levels. Researchers determined the curcumin found in turmeric may help restore adequate levels of glutathione and improve the activity of glutathione enzymes (5). But you need to give your dog turmeric extract as it’s more concentrated than the spice.
9. Choose Supplements To Promote Glutathione Production
SAMe (S-Adensoylmethionine) is created by the body from an essential amino acid called methionine. Through chemical processes in the body, SAM-e is converted into glutathione, which is known to have detoxifying and antioxidant effects on the liver. It can be obtained as a supplement at health food stores and pharmacies.
NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) is another supplement that helps boost glutathione levels in your dog’s blood and liver. NAC is a precursor for glutathione production in the body.
Causes Of Low Glutathione In Dogs
Glutathione can be depleted in your dog due to aging, a poor diet, environmental toxins and lack of exercise but there are other reasons.
- Chronic stress
- Environmental toxins
- Genetically modified foods
- Overuse of antibiotics
- Cancer treatment with radiation therapy
The signs of a glutathione deficiency in your dog aren’t often noticeable unless they become serious.
Signs Of A Glutathione Deficiency
Some of the signs and symptoms of this deficiency in your dog can include:
- Lack of energy
- Poor sleep
- Joint issues
But there can be more serious issues. Here are the signs.
Serious Signs Of Low Glutathione
- Frequent infections
- Lack of coordination
- Liver disease
Can Dogs Be Given Glutathione?
Food is the best way to maintain your dog’s glutathione levels. But glutathione is also available in supplement form … and your vet may use it to treat a severe deficiency, in chronic or emergency situations or in cases of medication overdose or a toxicity.
Glutathione can be given intravenously, intramuscularly, topically, or as an inhalant. It’s also available as an oral supplement in capsule and liquid form. And it’s available as glutathione gel for dogs. Supplements will give the dosage on their packaging. If it’s for humans, you can figure out the glutathione dog dosage by assuming it’s for a 150-lb person and adjust for your dog’s weight.
Here are a couple more ways to increase glutathione in dogs.
Other Ways To Increase Glutathione in Dogs
Dogs are notorious nappers and that’s a good thing. Lack of sleep … and stress … can decrease glutathione levels. So getting enough sleep and reducing stress can increase or maintain glutathione levels.
And regular physical activity can maintain or increase antioxidant levels, especially glutathione. So those visits to the park to run and play are great for your dog’s glutathione levels and his overall health.
1. Moore LE, et al. Glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms, cruciferous vegetable intake and cancer risk in the Central and Eastern European Kidney Cancer Study. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Sep;28(9):1960-4.
2. Penn State. Mushrooms are full of antioxidants that may have antiaging potential. ScienceDaily. 9 November 2017.
3. Lenton KJ, et al. Vitamin C augments lymphocyte glutathione in subjects with ascorbate deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):189-95.
4. Kiruthiga PV, et al. Silymarin protects PBMC against B(a)P induced toxicity by replenishing redox status and modulating glutathione metabolizing enzymes–an in vitro study. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 1;247(2):116-28.