Few people consider what it means for a dog to have a healthy immune system. After all, we see them eat off the floor and out the trash like they’re invincible. However, dogs are susceptible to infection and disease. For a dog to be healthy, they must have a properly working immune system, just like us. To boost your dog’s immune system, or to simply ensure it’s working how it’s supposed to, a broad scope approach is necessary. A dog’s diet, physical activity, and stress levels can all impact their immune system and overall health.
Dog Immune System
A dog’s immune system helps protect them from infectious diseases–when it’s functioning correctly. When a dog has a weak immune system, it can expose them to a number of diseases and infections like cancer, diabetes, and arthritis among others. It is essential to keep your dog’s overall health and wellness intact and balanced.
What Weakens a Dog’sImmune System?
A variety of things can affect a dog’s immune system. Their internal defense may be weakened due to chronic stress and anxiety. If your dog is home alone and suffers from separation anxiety, it could lead to chronic stress. Similarly, if your dog was adopted, and they have a rough or traumatizing past, they may also suffer from chronic stress.
Another reason a dog’s immune system may be weak is due to immunodeficiency diseases, which open the door to infections. Depending on the breed, some dogs are more likely to get these diseases, while others simply inherit them. Immunodeficiency diseases can also originate when a viral infection is present.
Above all, the two most common reasons a dog has a weak immune system is the lack of exercise and a poor diet. Unlike the other reasons, it’s simple to manage and improve what your dog eats and how active they are. The good news is there are steps you can take to ensure your dog has a balanced immune system and an overall clean bill of health.
How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System
Recognizing your pet’s weak defense system can be tricky. Even more so, understanding how to boost your dog’s immune system will take much effort. Dogs tend to hide signs of discomfort and illness in efforts not to appear weak. Fortunately for them, they still give off a few signs. If they lose their appetite, are fatigued, or seem sad or more low energy than usual, you should take action.
Because dogs tend to react differently to pain, if you’re in doubt, you should consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. Not managing your dog’s health properly can cause more significant and severe problems. The best way to make sure your dog’s immune system is strong and healthy is to not slack on any areas of their health.
First things first, to ensure your dog’s immune system is healthy and balanced, you must start from the inside. Make sure they are eating a grain-free organic diet that is packed with vitamins and nutrients. Pay close attention to the quality of ingredients listed, and go for a blend that’s made for their age group. Avoid feeding them too much and feeding them any human food, as that can lead to weight gain and digestive issues.
If you’re unsure of what to feed your dog, ask a veterinarian for optimal advice on the best kinds of dog food on the market.
Related Article: "Good & Bad Dog Food Ingredients: Knowing is Caring"
All dogs need regular exercise. Although some might need less or more of it, it’s important they are physically active to maintain good overall health. Exercise can help minimize stress levels, which helps their immune system remain balanced.
Stress releases cortisol in dogs and too much cortisol for prolonged periods can lead to certain health issues like skin infections or Cushing’s Disease. Regular activity can reduce unhealthy cortisol levels.
Exercise also helps eliminate body fat. According to a leading veterinarian “Fat is the body’s largest endocrine gland, responsible for secreting more than 40 different inflammation-promoting hormones…Even the smallest amount of excess fat can increase the amount of these hormones in the body.” Just like in humans, inflammation in dogs can lead to a multitude of diseases. However, keeping your dog fit by promoting regular exercise can help eliminate fat and potential inflammation.
Love & Affection
One surprisingly simple way to boost your dog’s immune system is by gently petting or massaging them. This is a proven method to increase lymphocyte numbers and function.
Lymphocytes are a form of small leukocyte or white blood cell. White blood cells play a major roll in the immune system, as they help rid the body of infectious intruders.
Physical comfort and affection promote emotional health in dogs as well, which is also good for the immune system. The wonderful thing about this is that the feelings along with the benefits go both ways. You both get an immune boost from this loving each other.
Aside from diet and exercise, there are different ways to boost your dog’s immune system. By staying on top of their health, you will be able to notice any irregularities that may present themselves. Regularly taking your dog to the vet can help you stay on top of their health and better regulate their immune system.
There are also specific vitamins, like zinc and vitamin C, that can help balance their health and immune system. However, before you introduce a new supplement to your pup, consult with a vet first.
Dog Immune System Vitamins and Supplements
According to the AKC, there are a handful of vitamins that will work wonders for your dog’s immune system and health. Vitamins are required for a healthy pup since they are organic compounds that are essential to sustain life and proper health. Many vitamins are naturally found in food, which is why a well-rounded diet is important. Just like humans, dogs need vitamins to grow and maintain good health.
Vitamin A for Dogs:
This vitamin works wonders for immune function, cell function, good eyesight, growth, and fetal development.
B Vitamins for Dogs:
Thiamine helps regulate energy. Riboflavin, niacin and B12 help with enzyme function. Vitamin B6 helps with glucose generation, red blood cell function, nervous system function, and niacin synthesis.
Vitamin C for Dogs:
This is an essential antioxidant that helps a dog’s immune system filter out free radicals that might produce inflammation and cognitive aging.
Vitamin D for Dogs:
Providing your dog with vitamin D is great for healthy bones and calcium. White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow of dogs. Keeping the bones healthy will ensure the healthy production of white blood cells.
Vitamin E for Dogs:
Using vitamin E helps dogs fight oxidative damage while also improving their cell function and metabolism. Vitamine E is an antioxidant that may help stop or slow down some chronic diseases associated with free radicals.
Vitamin K for Dogs:
This vitamin is crucial in aiding a dog’s blood’s ability to clot.
Choline for Dogs:
Choline supports healthy liver and brain function.
These suggestions are based on research gathered from trusted online sources. If you’re unsure, please ask your vet for further guidance.
You can also incorporate CBD into your dog’s diet for a more natural approach. Your dog’s health can benefit from CBD in a variety of ways. CBD interacts with a dog’s body through the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Their ECS helps manage a range of biological processes, such as immune response, sleep, memory, and digestion.
CBD helps by promoting calmness and reducing nervousness that might be negatively impacting the immune system. CBD also supports homeostasis, which balances the ECS completely. A balanced ECS in dogs means better sleep and better digestion, which are crucial factors of a healthy immune system.
There are several ways you can give your dog CBD, including CBD dog treats, CBD oil for dogs, and CBD capsules, but do your research before you buy. Choosing quality brands like Holistapet that carries the #1 veterinary recommended CBD oil for dogs, will ensure maximum results. Always go with a well-reviewed and established brand.
By now, we hope it’s obvious that a dog’s malfunctioning immune system can open the door to infections, illness, and diseases. A proper diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, regular exercise, and low levels of stress are all crucial factors in achieving a balanced immune system. Make sure you constantly encourage your dog to play, always feed them high-quality meals, and whenever necessary take them to the vet for checkups and second opinions. A dog that is surrounded by healthy options will likely have a strong immune system.
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Written by Joe Farber at www.holistapet.com