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 infections and a number of diseases 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's Immune 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. Some dog breeds are more likely to get these diseases, while others simply inherit them. Immunodeficiency diseases can also originate when a viral infection is present.
A poor diet and a lack of exercise can contribute to a weak immune system. 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 an 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 role 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 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 Holistapet, 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. It is also important to note that for some vitamins, taking too much can cause problems, and so consultation with your veterinarian is important.
Vitamin A for Dogs:
This vitamin works wonders for immune function, cell function, good eyesight, growth, and fetal development. It helps the immune system protect the body in many different ways, including support of the skin and lining of the gut and lungs to maintain healthy barriers to the outside world and regulation of immune cell production, growth, and function.
B Vitamins for Dogs:
This large group of vitamins is vital for your dog’s body to function. Thiamine helps produce the energy that cells use and is particularly important to the nervous system, both for energy production and cell signaling. Riboflavin, niacin, and B12 help with enzyme function throughout the body. Folate, vitamin B6, and B12 help produce red blood cells, preventing anemia. Vitamin B6 also helps with glucose generation, nervous system function, and niacin synthesis.
Vitamin C for Dogs:
Damaging free radicals are produced as a by-product of the body’s normal function. Their effects on the body are widespread and contribute to the deterioration seen with aging. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant that neutralizes these free radicals, helping to reduce the inflammation and aging effects that they cause.
Vitamin D for Dogs:
Providing your dog with vitamin D is great for healthy bones and calcium. However, vitamin D also has many important effects on the immune system, such as improving the activity of white blood cells – the cells that respond to attacks on the body.
Vitamin E for Dogs:
Vitamin E is another important antioxidant used by the body to fight the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It is found at high concentrations in white blood cells, protecting those cells as they neutralize the bugs that cause infections. It is also important for normal functioning of muscle and the nervous system.
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.
Conclusion: When To See A Vet
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.