Did you know that your dog’s immune system is critical for their rate of survival? It’s estimated that 10-30% of puppies die before they even reach the age of 21 days if they don’t develop a strong immune system. As your dog ages, its immune system helps prevent it from contracting illnesses and diseases, same as humans. While the fact above may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be the end-all. You can step in and help to boost the immune system of your puppy or even your aging dog. In today’s post, we’ll talk about how to boost my dog’s immune system.
First, let’s take a deeper dive into a dog’s immune function.
The Importance of a Healthy Immune System for Dogs
A poor immune system in your dog can cause a whole host of issues. It can make your dog vulnerable to infections, diseases, cancers, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. How does a poor immune system affect your dog?
When they have a poor immune system, it doesn’t function properly to fight viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Like a human’s immune system, when a foreign substance enters the body, the immune system targets it. It investigates whether it’s harmful or helpful. From there, it makes decisions accordingly.
If the substance turns out to be harmful, like a parasite or virus, it begins the process of removal. Your dog might have a fever, aches, loss of appetite, dehydration, or watery eyes. That’s right! Just like when you get sick, your dog’s body reacts similarly.
When the substance is helpful like an antibiotic or vitamin, the transporters take the substance and distribute it to the proper parts of the body.
It also affects cells. When cells in the body age or function abnormally, the immune system works to help restore balance. Without a healthy immune system, cells can reproduce too rapidly and lead to metastasizing, worsening of an illness, or death. It also helps to adapt your dog to a variety of physiological conditions.
Typically, when an immune system starts to dysfunction, chronic inflammation begins and leads to more diseases and conditions. If your dog has a poor immune system already or you want to prevent it, there are ways you can boost it.
How to Boost a Dog’s Immune System
There are many ways you can help boost your dog’s immune system naturally. Before you begin any regime or routine with your dog, speak to your vet to ensure it’s healthy.
Ways to boost:
- Eat right
- Reduce stress
- Regular check-ups
Exercise is crucial to your dog’s immune system. Like a human, your dog can store fat, which weakens the immune system. Even a little bit of chub can increase inflammatory hormones. These cause inflammation in the body and make your dog more susceptible to disease.
Exercise burns unnecessary fat and counteracts inflammation and reduces the risk for disease.
A proper diet can help boost your dog’s immune system. This includes frequently fresh water too. Fresh water helps to keep your dog hydrated and prevents harmful bacteria that can grow if it’s not fresh.
A diet for your dog could vary. Most vets recommend a diet in mostly moist, meaty diet. Commercial dog foods often contain a large amount of starch, which could lead to more inflammation. Grain-free, starch-free diets with meat and fresh vegetables are best.
For example, beans, apples, berries, plums, cooked potatoes, barley, cabbage, and broccoli. These contain antioxidants that are essential to your dog’s health. It not only contains essential vitamins and minerals but fights against free radicals.
Additionally, include supplements for your dog too. Probiotics and prebiotics are essential to a healthy gut in your dog. Optimal gut health helps regulate your dog’s immune function and balances the gut microbiome. Vitamins like fish oil, zinc, B vitamins, phytogenics, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E improve your dog’s immune system by providing healthy fats and antioxidants.
Before changing your pet’s diet or adding supplements, speak with a vet. They can direct you to the optimal diet and supplements for your dog’s breed.
Stress impacts your dog’s emotional and physical health. Stress releases the hormone cortisol. Cortisol fights off stress but weakens immune systems in the process if it’s constantly elevated. Each dog is different and may have different stressors. Common stressors include loud noises, crowds, travel, separation from the owner, new environments, or changes in daily life. Once you figure out your dog’s stressors, you can begin to mitigate them as much as possible.
Vet check-ups are the standard to maintaining a healthy immune system. You may feel like it’s not necessary to visit a vet unless something is wrong. However, there may be issues with your pet that you’re not aware of. Not every illness or disease causes symptoms. By the time your pet displays symptoms, it might be too late.
It’s best to get regular check-ups for blood work to rule out any deficiencies or undiagnosed health conditions. Your vet is a valuable tool that can help you to manage triggers and provide guidance on proper care.
Immunity Problems in Dogs
Immunity problems in dogs can cause illnesses, conditions, diseases, or even death.
What can cause these immunity issues?
- Hereditary immunodeficiency
- Viral infections
- Excessive stress
- Vaccines and medication
Hereditary immunodeficiency is an unavoidable circumstance. Certain breeds are born with deficiencies you can’t do anything about. You can do what you can to further prevent damage, but they’re predisposed to issues beyond your control.
Some of these breeds include:
- Basset Hounds
- Chinese Shar-peis
- Cardigan Welsh Corgis
- Doberman Pinschers
- Gray Collies
- Jack Russell Terriers
- Irish Setters
Signs and Symptoms of Immunity Problems in Dogs
Signs and symptoms vary. It depends on the reason why your dog has a dysfunctional immune system. For example, if it’s because of an autoimmune disease or illness, the symptoms will differ than if your dog has a poor diet or lacks exercise.
For autoimmune diseases, the symptoms will change based on what it is. However, there are a few common symptoms that arise.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Weakness or lethargy
- Weight loss or loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing rate
- High or low white blood cell count
In general, your pet may feel unwell and display symptoms from that or none at all.
However, there are general symptoms usually experienced.
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Watery eyes or nose
- Difficulty urinating/bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
- Lethargy/looking unwell
- Not acting like normal self
How to Prevent Immunity Problems in Dogs
You can prevent immunity loss in dogs without much effort or money. Like the ways to boost your dog’s immune system, prevention takes similar and some of the same steps.
You want to ensure your dog gets a proper diet, as little stress as possible, supplements, check-ups, and exercise.
Prevention is key to your dog living a long and healthy life.
How to Boost My Dog’s Immune System
Like humans that can’t get all their nutrients from their diet or require extra help if they have a condition, dogs need the same. Your dog may have a condition that requires extra vitamins and minerals to keep them healthy. Other times, it’s useful to have the boost to prevent vulnerabilities.
Which supplements are the best?
The VetPro Complete multivitamin focuses on several areas known to have immunity trouble. It includes probiotics for a healthy digestive system. It works to prevent loss of appetite, diarrhea, bloating, and gas. Glucosamine HCL, Chondroitin, MSM, and turmeric help to alleviate inflammation and relieve joint pain. For a healthy coat, each chew contains fish oil and vitamin E to help with itchy skin, allergies, and dry skin. The supplement contains other vitamins and minerals like omega-3s, vitamin A, B, and C.
Users of the product rave about how they notice differences in their dog. Some report seeing a change in their coat. They claim it helped calm their skin allergies and produced a shinier coat. Others mentioned how it helped with digestive issues like diarrhea, vomiting, and constipation. Dogs with joint problems reportedly have a change. A few users report their dog having more energy and easier movement since starting the vitamins.
Zesty Paws Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
Zesty Paws is a well-known brand in the animal world. Users rave about their products and this one is no exception. It’s a dual supplement for both dogs and cats. It’s made with omega-3s, EPA, and DHA. The formula is liquid and can be added to either dry or wet food. The omega-3s found in the salmon contribute to a healthy heart, immune function, coats, and aid in joint problems. Pets suffering from dull coats, itchy skin, irritation, or hot spots find relief from the rich omega-3s.
Users of this product report fur loss clearing up within a few months of use. It’s not immediate but users say they see fur regrowth, less shedding, and a shinier and softer coat. Other users rave about how it helped their dog’s joints. One user claimed their dog was able to begin using the stairs again after taking the product for a few months.
The Wolf Child Co. Lion’s Liver & Bone
Lion’s Liver & Bone uses 100% grass-fed and 100% grass-finished cows raised in New Zealand. It doesn’t contain any fillers, additives, or flow agents. It’s also GMO-free, hormone-free, and tested for high-quality standards. This supplement provides your dog with essential vitamins and minerals. It contains vitamins A, D, K, and E for a healthy immune system, energy, and antioxidants. It contains MCHA for better mobility because it’s a natural source of calcium, phosphorus, collagen glucosamine, and chondroitin. It’s also rich in minerals like zinc and magnesium. A rare ingredient included called mane mushroom helps to support mood, cognition, brain and nerve growth.
Users report many positives while using this product. The main pro is the taste. Some products taste bad or have a weird smell that puts off dogs. This one attracts them, and they take it with ease. Other raves include how the product works. One user reported that in a few short weeks, their dog had increased energy and a healthier coat.
Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites
Zesty Paws Aller-Immune bites contain a plethora of ingredients in their soft chews. It contains EpiCor as an exclusive ingredient. It’s a human-grade natural yeast at 80mg. The yeast naturally contains its own vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to help boost the immune system. There are five prebiotic and probiotic strains in the formula to support gut health and a better immune system.
Each chew has 3mg of omega-3s, EPA, and DHA to promote a healthier coat, heart health, and aid in joints. It has other natural immune-boosting ingredients like colostrum, apple cider vinegar, and licorice root. These all work to help boost the digestive system, immune function, and help calm allergies.
Users of this product rave about how well it helps with allergies and the taste. One user reported relief from seasonal allergies. It even worked to clear up dry skin and itchiness.
Dog Dailies supplement contains essential vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to maintain a healthy immune system and joints. It has glucosamine HCI, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, MSM, and yucca schidigera to aid in joint health, maintain fluid in the joints, and promote mobility. CoQ10 and omega-3s and 6s (salmon and cod live oil) help with cellular damage and maintain a healthy coat, skin, and heart. Vitamins C and E help with skin, coats, and provide antioxidants to boost immune health. The chews are also independently lab-tested to ensure it’s up to high-quality standards.
Users rave about how their dogs became more mobile after using this product for a few short months. It’s mentioned that your older dogs won’t return to the state of a puppy, but they will have more energy and the ability to go for walks when they couldn’t previously.
How to Boost My Dog’s Immune System: Final Thoughts
We often don’t consider our dog’s health in some ways. For example, most people won’t take their dog to a vet unless they need a shot, or something is wrong. However, regular visits are necessary to ensure the health of your dog.
Similarly, what you feed your dog and their activity level all affect their immune system. When a dog has a poor immune system, its overall health is at risk. Healthy diets, supplements, exercise, vet visits, and stress reduction all increase the longevity of your dog’s life.