Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

By Ruthie Bently

The immune system is one of the most important functions of any organism, including dogs. An immune system is a multi-faceted defense system against sickness. It enables a dog’s body to differentiate between germs, foreign substances and itself. When functioning properly, the immune system fights fungal infections, bacterial infections and illnesses, offers parasite protection, helps eliminate toxins from the body, and kills viruses. There are several ways to boost your dog’s immune system to help keep them healthy.

The immune system is adept at recognizing threats, and uses many layers to fight any infection that may present itself. The immune system is comprised of multiple cellular warriors, capable of recognizing pathogens that may attack. The immune system recognizes these pathogens by the proteins and chemicals they release. As a pathogen is recognized it is attacked, killed and consumed by the cells of the immune system. The immune system is capable of creating a memory of the pathogen to thwart a reinfection attempt.

If a pathogen is reencountered, the immune system recognizes its chemical makeup, which causes the immune system to create antibodies to attack the invading infection. Sometimes the infection succeeds in attacking the body’s cells internally. The cells that are attacked are able to alert the immune system by displaying a protein signature of the infection. Another group of cells responsible as a secondary line of defense go into action by killing the infected cells and notifying additional immune cells that there is an infection in the organism, which kills the invading cells.  

Feeding your dog a premium quality food like CANIDAE Grain Free ALS or CANIDAE All Life Stages is very important for a properly functioning immune system. Both formulas fulfill a dog’s daily food requirements and supply your dog with important nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help their immune system. If you don’t recognize some of the ingredients on your pet food label, learn what the terms on your dog food bag mean.

Getting daily exercise is one of the cornerstones for a good immune system. A daily walk or daily outside play with a ball or favorite activity stimulates a dog’s lymphatic system which is part of the immune system. Daily exercise goes a long way toward keeping your dog’s mental attitude positive, and enables the immune system to work properly. It calms your dog and helps reduce stress that may affect their immune system. Attempt to minimize anything that triggers your dog’s stress. Soothe your dog during situations that may be stressful to them (i.e. vet visits, car traveling, thunderstorms). Alternative therapies like massage or Reiki can help your dog relax, which cuts their stress level and assists the immune system function properly.

Fresh, clean water is another important part of a healthy immune system. Water hydrates your dog and enables their body to flush out unhealthy toxins. Other things you can do to assist your dog’s immune system and help them stay healthy include annual vet visits and taking them in to the vet if they become ill. 

If a dog’s immune system is not functioning properly it can cause health issues (some chronic) throughout their whole body. If a dog contracts an auto-immune disease, their immune function can be affected. A dog can suffer chronic stress caused by any form of trauma (cancer or other disease, improper diet, or abuse) and this can cause an immune system dysfunction.  It’s been recently found that a dog’s poor diet can cause a decreased immunity in its puppies, even if they are fed a nutritional diet. Other issues a dog with an immune system dysfunction can be vulnerable to are: allergies, arthritis, degenerative and reproductive disorders, demodectic mange, ear infections, eczema, and yeast infections. 

So, feed your dog the most natural food you can. Make sure it’s nutritionally balanced and provides adequate vitamins and minerals as well as omega fatty acids and antioxidants. Provide fresh water and exercise your dog daily. Take your dog to the veterinarian annually. Minimize use of chemicals around your dog; using them too often may lead to immune system dysfunction. By utilizing these tips, you can help boost your dog’s immune system, maintain its proper function and help your dog live a long, happy and healthy life.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently


  1. Quality food is so important to our pets. This is a good reminder about why good food is important.

  2. Great post and I agree totally that good food is so important. Sometimes though, not everyone can afford the good food. I really wish with all my heart that I could afford to feed some really good food to my animals. But at least they are getting some food. Take care and enjoy your weekend.


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