Dairy cows are especially vulnerable to health disorders during the transition period, when they shift from late pregnancy to the onset of lactation. Diseases at this stage affect not only the animals' well-being, but also cause a major economic impact in dairy farms, because apart from treatment costs, affected cows will not reach their peak milk-producing capacity. The overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leads to oxidative stress, which has been identified as an underlying factor of dysfunctional inflammatory responses. Supplementation with vitamins and trace elements attempts to minimize the harmful consequences of excessive ROS production, thereby trying to improve animals' health status and to reduce disease incidence. However, results regarding the effects of supplementing antioxidants on dairy cows' health and performance have been inconsistent, because in most cases, the antioxidant potential of the animals was not assessed beforehand and the nutritional strategy planned accordingly. Therefore, reviewing the physiological and harmful effects of ROS production, along with the different options available for assessing the redox balance in dairy cattle and some of the key findings of different supplementation trials, could bring one step forward the on-farm application of determinations of oxidative status for establishing nutritional strategies early enough in the dry period that could improve transition cow health.