Dog Immune System Support

Supporting or improving a dog immune system is essential in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pet. Simple improvements to your dog's diet and exercise routines while staying up to date with medical check-ups and recognizing problem symptoms early can help support a strong dog immune system.

Explaining the Dog Immune System

Your dog's immune system acts as a line of defense against viruses, bacteria and other foreign bodies that can do harm to your pet's health. The skin, mucous membranes, cell walls and saliva are parts of the innate immune system of your dog. These function to keep foreign organisms from entering the body and potentially causing illness, allergic reactions or other immune responses. The adaptive immune system, on the other hand, is enacted if a foreign body gets past the innate system. The adaptive immune system will cause different reactions to each foreign organism, providing a changing type of defense that can alter and improve over time once the dog has been exposed to a disease or illness.

If your dog is exhibiting some of these symptoms, he may need to improve his immunity or be treated for an overactive immune system:

  • Lethargic behavior
  • Diarrhea
  • Little to no weight gain
  • Chronic infections, including ear and eye problems, skin infections and yeast infections
  • Allergies
  • Reproductive disorders
  • Dull coat

Possible Causes of Poor Immunity in Dogs

Puppies may have weaker immune systems due to their age and a vulnerable time between losing the immunity gained from maternal antibodies and getting vaccinated and/or developing their own immune system. Puppies will only be protected from diseases that their mother has been vaccinated against or exposed to, and should receive their own vaccinations according to a schedule recommended by your veterinarian.

Dogs with autoimmune diseases (Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, juvenile diabetes), hypersensitivity to foreign bodies (allergies, dermatitis) or suppressed immune systems caused by medication or disease can struggle with poor immunity. An unhealthy diet lacking the proper nutrients and amount of calories can also weaken the immune system.

Maintaining a Healthy Immune System

A healthy, active lifestyle and proper nutrition can help support a dog immune system. To boost your dog's immunity, provide plenty of exercise and activity for your dog. Walking, running, games of fetch, playing with toys and swimming are some of the activities you can participate in with your dog and increase his immunity. Exercise will also relieve stress, which can affect immunity. A clean and fun environment will help eliminate stress and boost immunity.

A proper, balanced diet with fewer carbohydrates and more proteins and vitamins is essential to supporting the dog immune system. Avoid cheap dog food that is usually composed mostly of carbohydrate fillers and find quality products with plenty of proteins from recognizable ingredients, such as chicken or beef and not a generic "animal meal." Vitamins, herbal or fatty acid supplements can provide immune system support but, along with any changes in diet, MUST be discussed with your vet in order to determine the right supplements and nutrition for your dog's condition. A dog with an over-active immune system will require different treatment than one suffering from a deficient immune system.