Last Updated on September 6, 2023 by Dr. Alisha Barnes

3 Powerful Ways to Support Your Dog’s Immune System

Just like humans, your dog has an immune system!

It’s easy to forget that our pets’ bodies are constantly battling foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses, but they are. Just like humans, dogs are constantly being exposed to environmental pollutants, foreign bodies, and other threats to their health and well-being. While we don’t often witness our pets get sick, dogs can in fact contract colds, viruses, and other diseases, as well as develop infections.

Some of the most common viral and bacteria threats which face dogs today are:

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine influenza
  • Canine parvovirus
  • Heartworm
  • Rabies
  • Lyme disease
  • Kennel cough
  • Leptospirosis
  • Staph infection

These bacteria and viruses can be encountered on a hike, at the dog park, in the backyard, or even at home. For this reason, your dog needs immune support just as much as you do (in addition to appropriate preventative measures as prescribed by your veterinarian)!

A healthy dog is energetic, playful, engaged, and curious about the world. Healthy dogs exhibit excitement and satisfaction through wagging tails, demonstrate their inquisitive nature by engaging with their environment, and are visibly pain-free when they move easily and without hesitation.

Dogs that may be experiencing compromised immune systems behave differently than healthy dogs. They are often lethargic, hesitate to engage in physical activity, and seem to have lost the “sparkle” in their eye. They may already be suffering from a pre-existing condition, are increasing in age, or are under stress.

Either way, both healthy and unhealthy dogs need immune support. Bacteria and viruses do not discriminate when coming into contact with your pet, although healthier dogs are more likely to recover from infection and disease. For this reason, it’s important to provide your pets with as much immune support as possible.

Here are three ways you can help protect your pet’s immune function:

1. Healthful, whole food and optimized supplements

Keeping your dog’s diet healthful is critical if you hope to give their immune function a leg-up against outside invaders. A diet that includes processed human food, or that is incomplete and does not contain the full spectrum of vitamins and minerals, can be harmful to your dog’s immune system.

Dogs thrive on a complete, balanced diet. The higher the quality of their food, the better. Refrain from providing your dog with foods from your plate—seasoning, grease, salt, sweeteners, and other unsuspecting ingredients weaken your dog’s immune system, even in small amounts. Additionally, foods like raisins, chocolate, grapes, nuts, onions, and garlic are toxic to dogs, and can cause organ damage or failure.

Your dog is far more likely to thrive on high-quality, full-spectrum foods put together especially for dogs, as well as whole foods like chicken, plain unsalted and unseasoned rice, apples, fish, and a select few other fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, supplements can provide a valuable boost to your dog’s immune system. Look for supplements that include vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that your dog might not be receiving in their diet. Always consult with your veterinarian before starting a supplement regimen, and never, ever use human supplements for your dogs—ingredients that are benign to humans (like xylitol) can be deadly for pets.

2. The right balance of indoor and outdoor time

Just as homeostasis represents ideal balance inside of the body for both dogs and humans, a balanced external environment is also important for dogs’ health and well-being.

Spending too much time outdoors can be stressful for your dog for several reasons:

  • Being subjected to hot and cold weather or temperature extremes
  • Attention deprivation (6+ hours without human interaction)
  • Boredom and lack of sensory stimulation
  • Discomfort and inferior shelter, exposure to predators
  • Dirty water or food

Likewise, spending too much time indoors has its own drawbacks:

  • Lack of exercise and fresh air
  • Attention deprivation (6+ hours without human interaction)
  • Boredom and lack of sensory stimulation
  • Lethargy and listlessness
  • Access to human food, scraps, and other toxic or potentially harmful substances

Ideally, provide your dog with a balance of access to both their outdoor and indoor environments. Dog doors are often preferred for this reason, as they allow dogs to instinctively travel from outside to inside, based on their needs and preferences. Dogs aren’t always reliable self-regulators, but following their lead and noticing their patterns with regard to their indoor and outdoor preferences can be helpful in developing a system that best supports their well-being.

3. Regular professional care from your vet and your chiropractor

Regular wellness care for your pet is essential to ensure the best health outcomes possible for your furry friend.

A veterinarian is appropriately equipped to survey your dog for any disease or unusual symptoms and health markers, and your pet chiropractor is the ideal partner in maintaining and boosting your dog’s well-being.

Expert pet chiropractor Dr. Alisha Barnes has been helping support the health and immune function of thousands of pets since Tails Animal Chiropractic Care was established. Chiropractic care for dogs is a powerful immune booster, helping to improve circulation, facilitate detoxification, and improve mobility and agility. Chiropractic care for pets contributes to a decrease in stress and inflammation, which allows the animals’ natural protective and healing mechanisms to function optimally.

If you want to boost your pet’s immune system to protect and support their health and well-being, book your appointment today!

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