The most critical times for a dog's immune systems are when they are newborn puppies, and then again when they are older dogs.
Puppies are born with functional, but still immature, immune systems and have specific nutritional needs to develop their immune response. During a dog's life, the immune system adapts to different physiological conditions. Adult and senior dogs may benefit from immune system supplements for dogs, as they may have lowered immunity. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help boost your dog's immune system.
How Does a Dog's Immune System Work?
A dog's immune system is a complex network of cells and organs in your dog's body. Multiple elements in your dog's body come together to provide an immune response. These include:
- Bone marrow
- Lymph nodes
- Thymus gland
- Liver, spleen, and intestines
The job of the immune system is to defend the body against foreign invaders or abnormal cells that invade or attack it. By recognizing and mounting a defense against these invading microorganisms, the immune system protects the body. Substances that stimulate an immune response are called antigens, and include:
The three lines of defense against antigens in your dog's immune system are:
- Physical barriers: skin, cornea of the eye, and membranes that line the respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts
- Nonspecific or innate immunity: white blood cells present at birth
- Specific or adaptive immunity: acquired immunity through previous infections or vaccination
When the immune system identifies an antigen or invader, it triggers an immune response where white blood cells and other protective cells attack and destroy the invading antigen.
What Happens to the Immune System as Dogs Grow Older?
Protective white blood cells, known as T cells, are produced in the bone marrow. They mature and multiply in the thymus gland and then enter the blood stream where they wait for signals to attack antigens.
As a dog ages, his thymus naturally declines in function. This results in a gradual weakening of the immune system and a reduced response to antigens, putting dogs more at risk for infections and diseases.
Do Dogs Need Immune System Supplements?
Dogs of all ages may benefit from immune system supplements for dogs. An immune system that does not perform correctly can lead to chronic inflammation and potentially make your dog susceptible to diseases like diabetes, osteoarthritis, liver and heart disease, asthma, and cancer.
A dog immune support supplement may benefit canines with underperforming immune systems as well as those with overactive systems. An underperforming immune system happens with age, creating a weakened response to infections, wound healing, and disease. An overactive immune system generates an immune response to nonthreatening substances, like pollen or dust, creating an allergic response.
Talk to your vet about whether an immune supplement is right for your dog.
How to Support Your Dog's Immune System
The best immune boosters for dogs are regular vet checkups, vaccinations, a complete & balanced diet, and good oral hygiene.
There are several additional ways to naturally support a dog's immune system, including:
- Feeding specially formulated food to support senior dogs - foods that are rich in antioxidants, fatty acids, and other key nutrients that help support immune health
- Asking your vet about immune system supplements for dogs - look for ingredients that support your dog's immune system
- Making sure your dog gets lots of exercise to get the blood flowing and bring more oxygen to the brain and other organs
- Giving them plenty of rest and sleep
- Keeping food and water bowls clean
- Providing fresh, clean water
- Helping them by reducing stress
Dog immune health supplements that contain natural, beneficial ingredients, like EverRoot immune health supplements, provide nutrients and vitamins for your dog's immune system. These ingredients include spirulina for dogs, omega-3 fatty acids, acai fruit powder, pomegranate juice powder, zinc, probiotics, and prebiotics
Supplementing with blue-green spirulina has been shown to enhance immune status with high antibody response in dogs.
Omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in wild-caught Alaskan salmon oil and wild-caught Alaskan cod liver oil, can also support immunity for dogs.
Acai fruit is nutrient dense with antioxidants for dogs, plus vitamins C, A, and E to promote a healthy immune system in dogs.
Pomegranate juice is packed with nutrients such as vitamins A and K, fiber, and antioxidants to combat free radicals for a healthy immune system.
Zinc for dogs is important for their immune system and thyroid function.
Because 70% of a dog's immune system is in his gut, supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics for dogs may be beneficial. The good bacteria in your dog's gut and system play a key role in maintaining his overall health. Supplementing with prebiotic fiber supplements, with ingredients like pumpkin and psyllium fiber, feeds the good bacteria. This helps your dog's beneficial microbiome grow to help support your dog's immune response.
With a little proactive care, the proper nutrition, extra love, and a bit of patience, you can support your dog's immune system for a happy and healthy life.
Learn more about EverRoot immune health supplements for dogs.