Boosting the Immune System of Your Dog

A dog needs an immune system that is healthy and properly functioning. Your dog's immune system protects him from illness, fighting off bacteria, killing viruses, and eliminating toxins from his body. Lowered immune function can lead to frequent fungal, bacterial and viral infections, and have serious long-term consequences for your dog's health. Here are some ways you can boost your dog's immune system.

The Importance of the Immune System

Your dog's immune system is his line of defense against illness. While medications can provide treatment for dog infection, a strong immune system ensures that your dog won't get sick in the first place. When healthy and functioning properly, your dog's immune system fights of bacterial, fungal and viral infections, cleanses toxins from his body, and protects against parasites.

When immune function is lowered or compromised, your dog is vulnerable to infection by bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. He's more vulnerable to yeast infections, demodectic mange, eczema, allergies, arthritis, ear infections, reproductive disorders and degenerative disorders.

Causes of Lowered Immune Function

There are many things that can lower your dog's immune function. Chronic stress, such as that experience by abused animals or dogs who have been otherwise traumatized, can compromise immune function. Auto-immune disorders can also lower immune function.

Two of the most common causes of decreased immunity in dogs are poor diet and lack of exercise. Scientists have recently concluded that poor diet in one dog can even lead to decreased immunity in that dog's descendants, even if they are not themselves nutritionally deficient. Insufficient exercise can also lead to decreased immunity, as exercise stimulates your dog's lymph glands, which are vital to immunity.

Boosting Dog Immune Function

The most important thing you can do to boost your dog's immune function is to feed him an adequate diet. Choose a quality dog food; prepared foods contain all the nutrients your dog needs. If you're feeding your dog food you prepare yourself at home, do your research to make sure it contains all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs for adequate nutrition.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. Walk him daily and play with his regularly; let him do the things he enjoys. Remember that contact with you relaxes your dog, diminishing the harmful effects that stress can have on his immune system. Try to minimize any stress triggers in your dog's life, and soothe him in stressful situations.

You can add a dog food supplement to your dog's diet to increase immunity and help him fight off illness. Some good supplements include:

  • Neem oil, which boosts the production of T cells, a vital part of your dog's immune system.
  • Vitamin C is antiviral and antibiotic.
  • Omega fatty acids make your dog's digestion more efficient and can increase his energy levels. They are good for his hair, skin, eyes, and internal organs. Good sources of omega fatty acids include evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil and fish oil.
  • Zinc supplements boost the immune system by increasing white cell production and promoting the fast healing of wounds.