The development of the dog’s immune system begins at conception, just like humans. As he grows in the uterus, his immune system starts to strengthen until birth, where breastmilk boosts this process. Once the dog is weaned, his diet is responsible for strengthening his natural defences.
Immune defences are important for your dog throughout his life, whether he is still a puppy, an adult or a senior. They help him stay healthy and active, adapt to change and respond to challenges. They also protect him when he starts exploring the world around him. The immune system protects him from foreign elements, such as bacteria and viruses, the development of its defence mechanisms is done gradually. Reinforcing this development from an early age is essential since it can significantly influence his health for the rest of his life. Therefore, immune-strengthening nutrients are now a major component of any high-end dog food.
How can nutrition help strengthen your dog’s immunity?
Nutrients, which provide the food sources essential for the growth and proper functioning of the body, are the key to strengthen the immune system.
Studies have shown that food enriched with antioxidants can strengthen their immune defences. Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and micronutrients found naturally in various foods, which help protect cells and prevent damage from free radicals. Free radicals are produced during the normal functioning of the body, but can also be caused by external factors, such as pollution, tobacco, and UV rays. When the amount of free radicals is too high, they can affect the DNA, lipids and cell proteins.
Vitamin E, manganese and zinc are examples of naturally occurring antioxidants, which may be present in high-end dog food.
These antioxidants are very helpful for young as well as elder dogs, also if the dog is recovering from any illness or health-related condition.
Home-made dog immune boosters
Garlic: it has well-known antibiotic properties and contains selenium which helps to fight the damage done to cells by free radicals. Add 1 capsule of garlic oil to food once a week.
Citrus fruits: Rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene and other mineral substances such as calcium. Mix one teaspoon of lemon/orange juice with the food.
Carrots: Rich in carbohydrates and ideal in the winter season, it provides vitamin A in large quantities. It is very useful in case of bronchopulmonary disease.
Cabbage: Rich in sulfur, vitamins C, B5, E, beta carotene, zinc, magnesium and nutrients with anti-infectious properties.-
Pumpkin: Rich in mineral salts, carotene, vitamin C and other antioxidants.
The first defence barrier: coat and skin
If antioxidants are essential for your dog’s internal health, healthy skin and coat are major players in his external defence. They are the first barrier against the outside world.
Your dog’s skin and coat are both constantly in the process of renewal, and their regeneration takes full advantage of the nutrients in their diet. Making the right choice in terms of food for your dog is, therefore of extreme importance. Studies have shown that a diet containing omega-6 fatty acids and zinc can promote healthy skin and coat. So keep this in mind when choosing his food.
Maintaining a healthy digestive system of your faithful companion can help him to fight certain diseases. Combined with fibre-rich foods, prebiotics promote good digestion.
A healthy lifestyle
Your dog’s lifestyle can also have a significant impact on the strength of his immunity.
Physical exercise, which includes short walks and playing outside, has also been proven to have a very positive effect on the immune system. It promotes blood circulation, which increases the rate of oxygen sent to cells. Thus participating in the body’s natural repair and regeneration process.
Constant access to fresh, clean water, greatly helps in his immunity, as cells are made up of more than 70% of water. Enough water helps regulate body temperature and the diffusion of oxygen throughout the body, through the blood system. It allows the brain to function properly.
Wet food is also a good way to help your dog stay hydrated and keep his whole body functioning properly.
To sum up. Physical activity, clean water and a balanced diet adapted to the age of your dog will help strengthen his immune system.