HOW TO Boost Your Dog’s Immune System

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jumping dogWhile humans battle pesky viruses and bacterial infections with vitamin C and other immune system boosters, their dogs might be suffering as well.

Canine influenza and parvovirus are dangerous diseases affecting dogs. Reports show H1N1 (swine flu) has also spread to dogs. Maintaining your dog’s optimum immunity will help her fend off these diseases.

“As with any disease caused by a virus, treatment is largely supportive. Good animal care practices and nutrition assist dogs in mounting an effective immune response,” says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Not unlike humans, dogs with strong immune systems are those that have the proper balance of a good diet, exercise and supplements.

If you’d like to give your dog’s immune system a boost, consider taking the following steps to ensure a happy, healthy hound.

Feed Your Dog a Healthy Diet

Many commercial brands have been called the “junk food of dog food.” Yes, humans can eat a Quarter Pounder with cheese and continue to function, but their health and energy levels are severely compromised by the lack of proper vitamins and minerals. The same is true for dogs.

Take a close look at your dog food label and do your homework about the right ingredients for your dog’s best nutrition. Look into high-quality food and consider an all-natural diet that’s human grade and free of artificial preservatives and hormones.

Your dog’s diet should be a nutritious source of vitamins and minerals, not filler.

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

You’ve heard it from your own doctor when you’re ill – “Drink lots of liquids!” – so it may come as no surprise that being well hydrated with clean water will help your dog’s immune system and overall health.

Make sure your dog always has a bowl filled with fresh water. Clean the bowl using dish soap and water every time you change the water.

Also make sure your dog is drinking a sufficient amount of water. If she’s not, that might be a sign that something is off-kilter, and you may need to take her to the vet.

Your Dog Needs Plenty of Exercise

Not only does vigorous exercise help promote strong physical health, but it also helps reduce stress and anxiety in dogs. Chronic stress can play a role in a lowered immune system, and exercise can help relieve your dog’s anxiety.

If you’ve recently adopted or rescued a dog from a shelter, she may suffer from stress induced from a previous traumatic experience. Try to find out as much about your pup’s history as possible so you can take the proper measures. But, just like with any dog, exercise will make a world of difference.

Don’t let bad weather deter you, either. Try some indoor activities to keep your pup panting along. A fit dog is a healthy dog.

Give Your Dog Vitamins and Supplements

Dogs with compromised immune systems gain a tremendous amount from a good multivitamin and supportive supplements.

“A dog with a daily active lifestyle can benefit from a multivitamin to help make sure that his muscles stay strong, eyes stay clear and coat stays glossy,” said Taylor Truitt, DVM and CVA.

Infused with vitamins A, C and E, i Love Dogs Multivitamin with Green Tea and Reishi is a great source of healthy support for your pooch.

Another supplement you should consider for your dog is reishi.

“The reishi mushroom has amazing capabilities to help promote and strengthen the immune system, to help prevent and treat cancer, to promote liver health, to scavenge free radicals, and overall provide longevity and well being,” Dr. Truitt said.

i Love Dogs Reishi with Green Tea will give your dog that extra immunity boost she needs for a lifetime of good health.

Take Your Dog for an Annual Wellness Check

Healthy humans get wellness checks yearly, and your dog deserves no less.

Stay on top of your dog’s health before she gets so ill that it severely affects her immune system. Make sure to arrange your dog’s annual wellness exam with her veterinarian. Visiting the vet annually will help detect the onset of problems before it’s too late.

Keep Your Dog’s Vaccinations Up to Date

You can boost your dog’s immune system by providing her with the proper defenses. Stay up-to-date on your dog’s vaccinations and ensure that everything is current. Vaccinations may make a world of difference, even if there’s no current vaccine for a particular disease.

For example, prior to the introduction of the canine influenza vaccine, the AVMA strongly recommended a vaccination even to just help determine if your dog had the disease.

“Vaccination against other pathogens causing respiratory disease… may help prevent more common respiratory pathogens from becoming secondary infections in a respiratory tract already compromised by influenza infection,” the AVMA reported. “In addition, knowing that dogs are vaccinated against these pathogens may help… distinguish canine influenza from other respiratory diseases.”

Prevent Diseases Before They Happen

Keep things clean. Just as with communicable human diseases, it’s important to wash your hands often when handling your dog or after visiting with other dogs. This will help reduce the chances of spreading germs, whether it’s your dog that is carrying the disease or another dog.

You should hold your doggie day care, vet’s office and boarding kennel to the same standards. Ask about their procedures for keeping diseases from spreading.

If you’re adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue, ask the same questions about their facilities before bringing your pup home. Also, take your new pet to a veterinarian to make sure she’s in good health.

Continue to practice these preventative measures and watch as your pup becomes the healthiest dog on the block!

PHOTO: Mickey Samuni-Blank

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

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