Guest Post by Jenny Perkins
As pet parents, we wish for our dogs to stay healthy and free from all sorts of diseases. But many of us may not be aware that the key to ward off infections and bacteria is having a strong immune system. Various factors in our surroundings weaken their immunity: store-bought dog foods that contain fillers and carbs, inactive lifestyles, and toxins in household products, to name a few. This, in turn, makes our dogs more vulnerable to illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, etc. We have summed up six natural tips to boost our furry companion’s immune systems.
1) Keep Your Dog Active
Exercise is a necessity, not just for us humans, but also for our pups. Excessive body fat leads to the secretion of hormones that increase inflammation, thus increasing the probability of disease. Physical exertion aids in burning fat and also prevents canine obesity, which is a significant factor that paves the way for various other illnesses.
Take your dog for regular walks and encourage him to play. If he's able, try engaging him in dog sports, like agility, that provide mental stimulation, strengthen the muscles, and keep your dog fit.
2) Plan Your Dog’s Diet
A nutritious diet is the foundation of a healthy body and an active immune system. However, many commercial foods that contain fillers, grains, and artificial preservatives don’t contribute to good health; a diet that consists of natural ingredients and is rich in essential nutrients is the ideal option. Read the labels, and look for dog food with high quality meat as the first ingredient. Avoid fillers like corn and wheat gluten, and look for foods that have higher protein and fiber content, with lower fat and carbohydrate content. It isn’t necessary for the store-bought food to be expensive; various affordable dog food brands also offer excellent quality.
You can also feed your dog "people foods" with antioxidant properties such as berries, beans, apples, broccoli. Even herbs like turmeric or parsley make good additions to their meals.
It's also beneficial to add foods that are rich in probiotics. Natural sources of probiotics include yogurt, banana, apples, asparagus, flaxseed and chia seeds.
It's recommended to consult with your veterinarian regarding any changes to your pup’s diet, to ensure what you're feeding them is appropriate for their age, weight, activity level, and any diseases or ailments they might have.
3) Eliminate Factors that Contribute to a Weakened Immune System
Our dogs are continuously exposed to environmental toxins such as those found in pesticides, car exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, and even in some preventive treatments for parasites. Eliminate these factors by avoiding the use of these products. Instead, look for natural alternatives that can help improve the immune system, like essential oil based flea and tick preventatives, or homemade pesticides for your garden.
4) Maintain Optimum Hygiene
Hygiene and cleanliness is equally important for our pups as it is for us. Keeping a clean environment will reduce the bacteria surrounding our dogs, thereby lowering the battles for their immune reserves. Regularly wash your dog’s utensils and bedding. Make sure your dog also gets a bath at regular intervals, and has access to clean drinking water. If your water has a high fluoride content, that can also become a cause for various diseases.
5) Look Into Natural Therapy Methods
If your pooch has a malfunctioning immune system, you can look into alternative methods of treatment such as acupuncture, essential oils, or massage therapy. Acupuncture is now being used for pain relief in dogs, particularly for those that have arthritis, or who undergo chemical treatments such as chemotherapy. Many essential oils support immune function and reduce stress. Massages also promote healing and improve overall health for our pups. Seek out an experienced and trained practitioner to carry out these–or any other–treatments.
6) Reduce Stress for Your Dog
Psychological well-being plays a significant role in influencing overall health for your pooch. Dogs that stay alone for long periods of time, or don’t get enough physical activity, may become stressed. This can burden the immune system and lower its performance. Ensure that you spend sufficient time with your pooch; his favorite thing is being with you!
If he enjoys the dog park, take him to socialize with other pups; if he's happier with just his family, go for walks and play games in the house. Leave music on when you leave for the day, or give him a filled kong to keep him busy for a while.
Try to keep your furry companion happy and free of stress, so his immune system can perform at its best.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.