A dog’s immune system is vital to their overall health, protecting against harmful bacteria, viruses, and other foreign invaders. But just like people, dogs can suffer from immunodeficiency disorders that make them more susceptible to infections and veterinary internal medicine diseases.
Diet, supplements, and other factors help to boost a dog’s immune system and protect them from potential health problems. Here are different ways you can do this:
1. Give Them a Balanced Diet
A healthy diet is important for all dogs, but it’s especially crucial for those with weakened immune systems. Dogs need a balance of fats, proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to maintain their health.
However, be careful with sugar, as too much of this can result in dental diseases requiring more comprehensive dental care than usual (see this link for more details). This is because sugar provides food for bacteria and other organisms that cause plaque and tartar buildup on teeth. In addition, it causes inflammation in a dog’s body.
Although sugar is a carbohydrate, excessive intake can lead to problems for dogs. Discuss it with your vet if you’re not sure about your dog’s diet.
Below are examples of immune system-boosting foods you can add to your dog’s diet:
- Fish: Fish is omega-3 fatty acids-rich, which have been shown to help decrease inflammation. It also helps in managing autoimmune diseases. Some types of fish include salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies.
- Blueberries: Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants, which help to protect cells from damage.
- Spinach: This healthy vegetable is a good source of vitamins A and C, both of which are important for a healthy immune system. It can also be a good source of vitamin K, iron, potassium, and folate.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, an essential vitamin for a healthy immune system.
2. Supplements Might Be Necessary
As dogs age, they might need more vitamins and minerals than their food provides. This is especially true if they have a health condition affecting their absorption of nutrients or appetite.
In these cases, supplements might be necessary to ensure your pet gets the nutrients required. Ask your veterinarian prior to giving them any supplements, as excessive specific vitamins and minerals can be harmful.
Below are some supplements that can help boost your dog’s immune system include:
- Vitamin C: It is a water-soluble vitamin that’s necessary for many body functions, including the development and repair of tissues, the production of collagen, and the absorption of iron. It also acts as an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage.
- Vitamin E: It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in maintaining cell structure and function. Additionally, it’s an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage.
- Zinc: Zinc is a mineral necessary for the development and function of immune cells and helps protect cells from damage, like other vitamins and minerals.
- Probiotics: These are live microorganisms similar to the beneficial bacteria in the gut. They help maintain a healthy balance of their gut bacteria, which is vital for a healthy immune system.
At your appointment, ask your vet so they can help you determine if any underlying medical conditions need to be addressed or if changes to your dog’s diet or supplements are necessary.
3. Keep Them at a Healthy Weight
An overweight or obese dog is most likely at risk for several health problems, including diabetes, arthritis, and high blood pressure. These conditions can weaken their immunity and make it more difficult for them to fight off infection.
Along with a healthy diet, exercise is important for maintaining a healthy weight. Dogs of all ages need regular exercise to stay fit and healthy.
You can start by taking your dog for a walk around the block, playing fetch in the park, or signing up for a dog-friendly exercise class. Ask your veterinarian before starting any new exercise routine, as some health conditions can make exercise dangerous.
4. Keep Their Vaccinations Updated
Vaccinations help protect your dog from many diseases, including those that can weaken the immune system. Vaccinations are especially important for puppies, who are more susceptible to infection. Some necessary vaccines include:
- Canine adenovirus
Discuss their vaccination schedule with your vet and which ones are right for them. That’s why choosing an experienced and reputable vet clinic like Tri-County Animal Clinic is so important. Your vets play a significant role in keeping your pet healthy and safe.
5. Follow Good Hygiene Practices
Dogs can pick up germs from other animals or contaminated surfaces like people. These germs can cause illness, so you must practice good hygiene to protect your dog.
The following are good hygiene practices you can take:
- Always wash your hands every time (before and after) you handle your dog.
- Avoid contact with sick animals.
- Keep your dog away from spots where other animals relieve themselves.
- Clean up immediately after your pet relieves themselves in public.
- Brush your dog’s teeth regularly.
- Bath your dog as needed.
As a responsible human companion to your pet, you play a part in keeping their immune system healthy and strong. Consider the tips above to help keep them healthy and safe.