In some ways, keeping your dog’s immune system balanced and strong isn’t particularly complicated: a good diet and plenty of exercise will do the trick.
When your dog’s immune system is functioning smoothly under the surface, it probably won’t even cross your mind. When your dog’s immune system starts malfunctioning, however, your dog is more likely to get sick. And when your dog’s immune system is struggling long-term, chronic inflammation can open the door to diseases like: osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are the foundation of your dog’s health. A high quality, complete dog food can keep the pounds off your dog’s frame while giving them plenty of energy to run around and play.
Exercise is incredibly important for all dogs, no matter their breed or energy level. While not all dogs need to be running laps around the track, every dog needs to get off the couch, stretch their legs, and have an opportunity to sniff and explore outdoors. Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system which allows the body to filter out toxins naturally. It also provides stress relief, boosting your dog’s immune system.
Exercise is also an important tool in weight loss and management. Although a chubby pup on social media can gain plenty of fans, excess weight is a major risk factor for osteoarthritis, certain cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. The more weight your dog carries around, the more stress those joints are placed under. As your dog ages, the cartilage between their joints naturally degrades, and can eventually cause stiffness and pain.
But you’ve also probably heard that high-impact activities can hurt your dog’s health in the long run as well. So how do you strike a good balance?
Deley Naturals Advanced Hip & Joint Supplements contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help protect, rebuild, and maintain your dog’s joint health. Suitable for all ages, it can be given while your dog is still young as a preventative or added to their diet as they age and slow down.
Probiotics and Gut Health
Approximately 70 percent of your dog’s immune cells can be found in their gastrointestinal tract. A strong, healthy gut is your dog’s first line of defense against invading pathogens and dangerous bacteria. And, when taking into account what your dog optimistically calls edible, the benefits of a strong immune system seem obvious. Enter probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that provide crucial digestive support.
But probiotics can do more than strengthen your dog’s stomach against food poisoning. They actively compete for resources with “bad” bacteria and colonize the gut with “good” bacteria, helping your dog digest their food more efficiently, extract more nutrients with every bite, and reap benefits all around.
You don’t have to wait until your dog is sick to start adding probiotics to their food. Getting them started early can help your dog build a robust microbiome. Or, put more simply, it’s much easier to prevent bad bacteria from taking root than it is to kick them out after.
Deley Naturals Advanced Probiotics for Dogs contains six different strains of bacteria: Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus brevis, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus fermentum. Combined with enzymes that help your dog break down their food, it helps normalize and protect your dog’s gut health, allowing your dog’s immune system to function properly.
Probiotics are safe to give to your dog, with one glaring exception: immunocompromised dogs may not be able to handle the additional strain on their systems. If your dog falls into that category, talk to your vet before introducing any into your dog’s diet.
Fish oil is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that provide tons of health benefits for your dog. While it’s chiefly known for its effect on skin and coat health, people also supplement their dog’s diet with fish oil to help with inflammation, support brain health, improve joint health, and lower the risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
Your dog needs a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, while commercial dog foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty acids are quick to go rancid, leaving your dog’s diet imbalanced. Signs that your dog’s immune system may be impacted by a lack of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Slow wound healing
- Dull, dry, or flaky skin and coat
- Frequent ear infections
- Hot spots
Your dog can get omega-6 fatty acids from animal and plant sources, but omega-3 fatty acids are a little trickier. Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids are plant-based, containing alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that can be converted into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). However, unlike humans, dogs are not efficient at this process. Instead, they can obtain EPA and DHA directly from aquatic sources such as fish or algae
A good multivitamin supplement can take the guesswork out of improving your dog’s immune system. Of course, not all multivitamins are created the same, and not all will be appropriate to your dog’s needs. In general, look for something that contains:
- Glucosamine, collagen, and chondroitin sulfate: hip and joint mobility
- Vitamin A: Retinols that support healthy immune function, antioxidant benefits that combat oxidative damage
- Prebiotics/Probiotics: Support gut health and maintain a balanced microbiome
Deley Naturals 15-in-1 Multivitamin Chew boasts, as the name indicates, 15 different nutrients in one chew. It also contains methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a naturally occurring organosulfur compound. Sulfur plays a central role in promoting a balanced immune response. Consistent intake of dietary sulfur is important for your dog’s growth and helps their bodies maintain homeostasis.