Dogs, like humans, need a healthy immune system throughout every stage of their lives. After all, the immune system is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more—it’s like your dog’s own guard dog, keeping his body safe from invaders.
The weaker the immune system, the less likely your pup’s body is to fight off illnesses and other health issues. Plus, a strong immune system helps your dog maintain his overall health. Keep reading for some expert tips on how to boost your dog’s immune system so he can keep living his best life.
Immune Deficiency in Dogs
If your dog’s immune system isn’t working properly, he’ll have a harder time fighting off harmful germs and substances, or antigens. This is called an immune deficiency.
Some immune deficiencies are genetic or hereditary; others are caused by underlying health or lifestyle issues. For example:
Signs of immune deficiency in dogs include:
You know your dog best. Anytime you notice any changes in his appearance or behavior, it’s always a good idea to contact your vet to rule out anything serious.
How to Support Your Dog’s Immune System
While any serious health issues should always be addressed by your vet, there are plenty of steps you can take as a pet owner to strengthen your dog’s immune system.
Give your dog’s immune system a natural boost with the following:
A Healthy, Balanced Diet
The best way to care for your pup’s health is by feeding him a high-quality, nutrient-rich diet. You are what you eat, after all!
Every dog is different. Some do well with a raw diet; others eat rotation diets; others do just fine with classic kibble. As long as Fido’s diet is vet-approved and consists of well-balanced protein, healthy fat, carbs, vitamins, and minerals, you’re already helping to improve his health from the inside out.
Of course, we can’t forget about water. Keep your pooch hydrated with fresh, clean water to encourage proper digestion and flush harmful toxins from the body—he should be drinking about one ounce of water per pound of body weight each day.
Excess weight can lead to a weakened immune system. A combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise is crucial when it comes to keeping your dog’s weight under control. Plus, exercise is a great way for you and your four-legged friend to have some fun quality time together.
The amount of exercise your dog needs each day can vary depending on factors such as age, breed, and health. Some dogs just need one or two daily walks, while others need something more intense (like a game of fetch or tug-of-war) to let out all of that pent-up energy.
It’s a known fact that for humans, hygiene and health go hand in hand. This also applies to dogs, though they don’t need to bathe nearly as frequently as we do!
Dogs love to sniff and dig and lick and roll around and explore and… well, you get it. Lots of this typical dog behavior can result in a pretty dirty dog. With regular brushing and bathing, you’re helping your dog get rid of dirt and bacteria which could negatively impact his immune system.
Regularly clean your dog’s toys, bowls, and bedding, too. Not only will this help to remove germs and bacteria, but it can also get rid of pests and allergens (and who doesn’t want to cut down on those pesky seasonal allergies?).
When stressed, the body releases a hormone called cortisol. While this is helpful in the moment, continually elevated stress levels can cause cortisol to weaken the immune system.
Dogs are creatures of habit and feel comfortable when they know what to expect. To keep Fido feeling at ease, keep your routine as consistent and predictable as possible.
When possible, avoid stressful, anxiety-inducing situations with your dog such as crowds and loud noises. In extreme cases, your vet may prescribe medications to help your stressed-out pup keep his hormone levels under control.
Nutritional supplements can come in handy for giving your pet an overall health boost or addressing specific nutritional deficiencies. That said, it’s important to check with your vet before making any changes to your dog’s diet.
While there are a variety of immune-boosting supplements to choose from, some of our favorites include:
- Omega-3s found in fish oil for dogs
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Turmeric, which contains the immune-boosting ingredient curcumin
For an easy, tasty way to give your dog some of those immune-boosting nutrients, try Pet Honesty’s Allergy Support Chews. Packed with omegas, probiotics, and colostrum, these vet-recommended chews are made with natural ingredients to support your dog’s immune system and improve his environmental, food, skin, and seasonal allergies.