Your dog’s immune system is like a security guard, constantly patrolling the body for potentially harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, then eliminating them before they can do harm. In order to effectively do its job, the immune system needs healthy maintenance and an occasional boost.
The following 5 methods may seem pretty simple, but when it comes to immunity, natural methods are best.
1. Feed a Healthy Diet
Just about every time we cover a canine health topic, proper diet and exercise make the list. This is because they really are that important! Aside from feeding a well-balanced, high-quality diet, consider supplementing with “superfoods” proven to naturally boost immunity.
These include blueberries, broccoli, garlic, turmeric, bell peppers, spinach, yogurt, and beans. Dried beans such as kidney, pinto, and red beans have more antioxidants per ½ cup than fresh berries, but use them sparingly to prevent upset stomach and excess gas!
You may be thinking, isn’t garlic toxic to dogs? The answer is: yes and no. Fresh, organic garlic in appropriate quantities is not only perfectly safe but extremely beneficial to most dogs. The exceptions are pregnant and nursing females, very young puppies (under eight weeks), dogs taking certain medications, and breeds sensitive to oxidants found in garlic such as Shiba Inus and Akitas.
Additionally, excessive amounts of garlic can cause a dangerous type of anemia that damages red blood cells. Luckily, your dog would have to consume a lot of garlic to develop this issue: something like six to eight whole cloves for a ten-pound dog or 60 cloves for a 75-pound pooch!
Consult your veterinarian for help choosing the perfect combination of optimal immune-strengthening foods to meet your dog’s individual needs.
2. Provide Plenty of Exercise
Exercise releases endorphins, decreases stress, promotes circulation, and lowers blood pressure – plus dogs love it! Because the benefits of exercise are so plentiful, dogs should be encouraged to be as active as their age and physical health will allow.
3. Add Dietary Supplements
With so many products on the market, it can be difficult to pick and choose which supplements are beneficial to your pup. Most veterinarians recommend sticking with the tried and true basics:
- Omega 3 fatty acids – like those found in high-quality fish oil supplements – are essential because they temper the inflammatory response. (we recommend the Project Paws® line of omega fatty acid supplements)
- Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, contains possible cancer-fighting properties and also has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Probiotics (see #4)
4. Promote A Healthy Gut
Scientists believe at least 70% of the immune system lives in the gut, so maintaining a healthy digestive tract is imperative! Be sure to monitor appetite and bowel movements. Ensure your pup’s intestines stay free of parasites with proper prevention, routine fecal checks, and dewormers (as needed).
Probiotics are a wonderful way to maintain intestinal health and may be the most important supplement of all for immune health. Basically, they pack a wallop of “helper” bacteria that kill harmful pathogens in the intestines and promote good digestion and overall health.
5. Avoid Stress
Stress is one of the most significant factors that lessen the body’s ability to ward off disease. Reducing the number of stress hormones in the body promotes relaxation and healing, which improves overall health. Stress reduction for dogs can be as simple as providing plenty of exercise and a consistent schedule. Those with higher anxiety levels may benefit from natural supplements aimed at reducing stress or even doggy massage!
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.