As dog parents, we want our pups to always stay healthy, and the immune system is a crucial component of good health in canines. If your dog’s immune system isn’t working properly, it opens the door to your pet coming down with all sorts of infections. So, ensuring your pup’s immune system stays in working order is vital.
You can boost your dog’s immune system in several ways, but you likely want to go the natural and safe route to do so. Luckily, there are plenty of natural ways to help keep your pet’s immune system in tip-top shape! Take a look below to find out what you can do to keep your favorite canine healthy and happy.
The 7 Ways to Boost Your Dog’s Immune System
1. Focus on Nutrition
Did you know your dog’s gastrointestinal tract comprises approximately 70% of its immune system?1 That makes proper nutrition an essential part of immune health! In fact, studies have shown that nutrition is key when it comes to keeping a dog’s immune system working correctly.2
Unfortunately, nutrition isn’t one-size-fits-all, so what may be suitable dog food for one canine might not be the best for another. If you’re unsure what dog food would give your pup all the nutrition it needs,3 ask your vet for advice. Whatever dog food you decide on, though, you’ll want to ensure it contains quality ingredients.
You’ll also want to determine your pet’s ideal weight and keep that in mind when choosing a food. Keeping your pup at a healthy weight is important, as extra weight on a dog can create a pro-inflammatory environment and impair immune function.
2. Regular Vet Visits
Your dog should never skip out on regular check-ups with the vet or vaccines. Vaccines help train your dog’s immune system to fight against specific pathogens to ensure that they stay in good health. Plus, regular check-ups help your vet catch anything that could be wrong with your pup as early as possible, and it helps you be better informed on what to do to keep your pet healthy.
3. Plenty of Playtime
Exercise is good for people, and it’s good for our pups, too! Staying fit by getting enough exercise is one of the best natural ways to help boost your dog’s immune system. Exercise releases endorphins, burns fat, gets the lymphatic system going so it can get rid of toxins, and so much more! And because canines are active by nature, exercise, and playtime are important to keeping them happy, as well.
So, go for a nice walk or grab some toys and spend 15 minutes playing with your pup! One thing to keep in mind about toys, though, is that they attract bacteria and germs easily. Washing items often is a good idea to ensure bacteria aren’t present.
4. New Adventures
Keeping a dog healthy doesn’t just involve the physical; our pets need mental stimulation to keep them in good health, too. And one excellent way to achieve mental stimulation with dogs is by going on new adventures with them. You don’t have to do a lot to have a new adventure—go for a hike or a walk in a new area so there are new smells and sights, or take your pup to visit a friend or dog park. Having something new to do every once in a while, keeps your pet interested in life and mentally stimulated, both of which keep the immune system working well.
5. Less Stress
Stress has a negative effect on our dogs, just like it does on us, and it can be especially bad for the immune system. This is because the body releases cortisol (the stress hormone) when outside stressors occur. And having cortisol in the body too often can weaken your pup’s immune system. So, try to keep your dog’s life as stress-free as possible!
Massage feels great for us, so why wouldn’t it feel great for our dogs? While there hasn’t been much research done on how massage affects animals, in humans, at least, it can reduce stress levels. And one study from 2014 said that massage could enhance immune function in people, so it might do the same for our pups. Either way, giving your dog a nice massage every now and then will undoubtedly go a long way in relaxing it and making it feel great!
Sometimes it might be a good idea to boost the immune system by adding some supplements to your dog’s diet. This doesn’t mean getting a different supplement for everything you can think of. That many supplements would be too much for your dog to take (plus, it could make your pet sick). But there are a few common supplements you might consider.
Probiotics, for example, promote a healthy gut, and since a good majority of the immune system is located in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract, this is beneficial for immune health. Then there’s fish oil which helps fight inflammation, reducing the risk of your pup becoming ill. But with any supplement you consider for your pet, talk to your vet first. And remember that it’s unsafe to simply give your dog one of your own supplements; you need to know the proper dosages and more for supplements to be truly beneficial.
Keeping your dog healthy is important, and a properly working immune system is vital to good health. That’s why boosting your pet’s immune system naturally and safely is key. Luckily, you can do that in many ways, such as playing with your pup, offering a doggie massage, feeding your pet properly, and going on new adventures. You might even find that some of these things help you de-stress and boost your immune system as well!
Featured Image Credit: Kabo, Unsplash