★ 4 min read
In this article:
- What is lycopene
- Health benefits of lycopene for your dog
- Lycopene rich foods for dogs
- How to include lycopene rich foods in your dog's diet
What is Lycopene
Lycopene is a naturally occurring plant-based pigment that gives some fruit and vegetables their orange, pink and red color. As a pigment, lycopene helps protect plants from oxidative stress caused by photo-sensitization.
Lycopene is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, carotenoid that cannot be made by the body (dog, human, etc.). It must be obtained by eating lycopene rich plant material.
After ingestion lycopene enters the lymphatic system, then moves on to organs such as the adrenal glands, colon and liver. The skin only absorbs a small part of ingested lycopene.
Once consumed, lycopene enters the lymphatic system, then moves to various locations where it is stored. These locations include:
- Adrenal glands
- Liver (the primary storage location)
Health Benefits of Lycopene For Your Dog
Lycopene plays an important role in disease prevention and treatment.
Lycopene rich foods in your dog's diet can help prevent and treat inflammatory issues and disease, including:
Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH)
Bone loss due to osteoarthritis
Lycopene is an anti-carcinogenic, anti-proliferative, anti-apoptotic. Lycopene helps protect healthy cells, assists in stopping the spread of cancer (matastasis), inhibits tumor growth and helps kill cancerous cells.
Lycopene fights a wide variety of cancers, including:
- Brain cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Liver cancer
- Lung cancer
- Mammary (breast) cancer
- Oral cancers
- Ovarian cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Squamous cell carcinomas
Cardiovascular issues and disease
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD, chronic bronchitis)
Diabetes Type II
- Insulin resistance
- Kidney issues (nephropathy)
Immune system support
Immune mediated diseases
Liver damage and disease
Neurological issues and disease
- Cognitive decline
- Degenerative Disk Disease
- Spinal cord injury
Oral health issues
- Atopic dermatitis
- UVA radiation damage, lycopene is a natural sunscreen
From synthetic chemical substances, and natural substances, including:
- acetaminophen and other conventional medications
- bisphenol (BPA)
- heavy metals
Lycopene Rich Foods for Dogs
Refer to the list of lycopene fruit and vegetables further below, and the general guideline for including vegetables and fruit in your dog's diet.
Offer your dog the items from the list and allow her to self-select the lycopene fruit and vegetables she prefers.
- Never force your dog to eat items she does not want.
- Read about self-selection here.
- Once you know your dog's preferences, you can add the items to your dog's diet, directions provided further below.
Richest Sources of Lycopene Fruit and Vegetables for Dogs
Lycopene per 100g of tomato product:
Sundried tomato provides more than 3x the lycopene found in tomato sauce. Choose organic sundried tomatoes. See the lycopene comparison below:
Sundried tomato – 45.0 mg per 100g
Tomato paste – 28.7 mg per 100g
Tomato sauce – 14 mg per 100g
Steamed tomato – 3 mg per 100g
Raw tomato – 2.5 mg per 100g
Guava, Papaya, Red Grapefruit and Watermelon
Guava (pink guava), fresh - 5 mg lycopene per 100g
Watermelon, fresh - 4.5 mg per 100g
Papaya, fresh - 1.8 mg per 100g
Grapefruit, fresh - 1.4 mg lycopene per 100g
Summary List of Lycopene Fruit and Vegetables for Dogs
- Gac fruit
- Red Grapefruit
- Cantaloupe and other orange melons
- Red bell pepper
- Red cabbage
How To Include Lycopene Rich Foods in Your Dog's Diet
How Much Vegetables and Fruit To Include in Your Dog's Diet
General guideline for including vegetables and fruit in a species appropriate diet:
Vegetables, leafy greens:
- 7% to 10% of the daily food intake, but can be more depending on the individual dog's situation.
- 1% to 3% of the diet, but can be more depending on the individual dog's situation.
How to Prepare Vegetables and Fruit to Include in Your Dog's Diet
Follow the instructions provided in this article.
The article also provides an extensive list of appropriate vegetables and fruit for dogs.
Maximize the Bioavalability of Lycopene
Lycopene is a fat-soluble carotinoid, this means it should be consumed with a good-source fat to ensure bioavailablility of the lycopene. Include at least one good-quality, species appropriate fat with the lycopene rich food you'll be adding to your dog's meal.
Examples of dog appropriate fats to serve with lycopene rich foods are listed below.
Click the link for each item for: dosing guidelines, serving recommendations, health benefits and other important information.
Supplemental forms of lycopene:
Concentrated lycopene supplements, e.g. synthetic lycopene supplements, encapsulated lycopene supplements, lycopene softgel supplements, etc. should not be given to dogs.
Concentrated lycopene supplements can lead to excess intake of lycopene which can cause lycopenemia (discoloration of the skin), gastrointestinal issues. Concentrated lycopene supplementation can cause birth of underweight puppies and/or premature labour in pregnant dogs.
Lycopene should be obtained by including an appropriate amount of lycopene rich fresh food in the diet. Refer to the section above 'How Much To Include in Your Dog's Diet'.
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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld