Your pet’s immune system is their first line of defense against infection and disease. A robust immune system is vital to your dog’s overall health, and there are a few things you can do to help keep it strong.
This blog post offers tips to boost your dog’s immunity.
1. Feed Them a Healthy Diet
Dogs need a balanced, nutritious diet for their immunity. Make sure they get plenty of protein, fat, and vitamins and minerals from whole foods.
Be aware of too much sugar, which can lead to dental diseases, making your routine dog teeth cleaning even more critical. In severe cases, your pet may need special dental care to prevent further oral health issues. This happens when the plaque and tartar buildup become so bad that it weakens the tooth enamel and causes decay.
Below is a list of immune system-boosting foods you can include in your dog’s diet:
- Pumpkin seeds
Always ask your veterinarian if you are not sure which types of food you should give your animal companion, based on their age, weight, medical conditions, etc.
Regular exercise is a must for your dog’s overall health and immune system. It helps to circulate their blood and lymph fluids, which carry infection-fighting cells throughout the body.
According to vets, a good rule for obese and overweight dogs is the 70/30 rule of thumb. This means they should burn 70% of their caloric intake through calorie restriction, while they must burn the remaining 30% through exercise.
Some physical activities you can introduce include:
Start slowly and increase the exercise’s intensity and duration gradually. Stop if your dog appears to be in pain, excessively panting, or has other medical concerns. Also, be aware of the heat, as dogs can overheat quickly, especially during strenuous activity or in hot weather.
For surgery patients (click here for more about vet surgery), it’s best to wait until your pet has fully recovered before starting an exercise routine. Once your vet has cleared them, start slow and increase activity gradually as tolerated.
3. Give Them Supplements
Numerous supplements can help boost your dog’s immune system. Some common ones include:
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live microorganisms similar to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. They can help restore the balance of their gut’s good and bad bacteria, boosting immunity.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat with anti-inflammatory properties. They can help to reduce inflammation throughout the body, including in the intestines, where much of the immune system resides.
- Vitamin C: This is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant. It helps to protect cells from damage and also plays a role in immune function.
- Zinc: It is a mineral necessary for many aspects of health, including immune function. It can be found in food sources such as oysters, lamb, beef, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate.
- Herbs: Many herbs can boost immunity, such as echinacea, ginger, garlic, astragalus, and ginseng.
Ask your veterinarian when it is good to give your dog any supplements, as these can affect the efficacy of medications they may be taking.
4. Keep Them Clean
It’s important to keep your dog clean and free of any dirt, debris, or other potential sources of infection. This means:
- Regular baths (as needed)
- Brushing their fur
- Cleaning their ears and eyes
- Trimming their nails regularly to prevent overgrowth, which can lead to infection.
- It’s a good idea to check their paws after they’ve been outside, as they can pick up all kinds of things, including bacteria and viruses.
You can ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer for tips.
5. Have Them Vaccinated
Your dog should be up-to-date on all their vaccinations. Vaccines help to protect against many serious diseases, such as rabies, parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis.
In general, they start receiving vaccinations as puppies and then have booster shots every one to three years, depending on the vaccine. Your veterinarian can inform you which vaccines are recommended or required in your area.
On the other hand, it’s always best to choose a vet who is also experienced in treating internal conditions such as these. When your dog gets sick, you don’t want to travel to another vet unfamiliar with your dog’s medical history. This can spare you from spending extra money and time and feeling stressed in the long run.
6. Avoid Toxins
Many toxins in the environment can weaken your dog’s immune system. Some of these include:
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
- Toxic plants
Be sure to research which plants are toxic to dogs before bringing them into your home. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals around your pet and opt for natural cleaners instead. When you take your dog outside, avoid areas that have been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
7. Reduce Their Stress Levels
Like humans, dogs can suffer from stress, weakening the immune system. Try to reduce stress in your dog’s life by providing them with a safe, comfortable home environment and plenty of attention and affection.
You can also help to reduce their stress levels by using calming aids, such as pheromone diffusers or collars, music designed for dogs, and dog-appeasing pheromones.
As a responsible human companion to your dog, you can do a few things to boost their immune system. Strong immunity helps keep them healthy and happy. Consider the tips above to help keep your dog in tip-top shape.