How to Build up a Dog's Immune System

Written by donna kay
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How to Build up a Dog's Immune System
A dog's immune system is the most important line of defence against illness. (Dog image by Jan Zajc from

Just as with humans, a dog's immune system is its first line of defence. The immune system protects the dog from all disease-causing organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. The immune system is comprised of two parts. The innate part of the immune system includes the outer portion or skin; and the adaptive part of the immune system protects the body from all foreign invaders that get past the skin. Building a strong immune system will help ensure your dog stays healthy. In the event of an illness, there are ways to help build your dog's immunity back from a weakened state.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Omega fatty acids
  • Vitamin C
  • Neem oil
  • Zinc supplement
  • Astragalus membranaceous
  • Echinacea purpurea (Coneflower)
  • Withania somnifera (Yarrow)
  • Sylibum marianus (Milk Thistle)

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  1. 1

    Give your dog supplements containing omega fatty acids for healthy skin, coat, eyes and internal organs. It increases energy levels and is especially important to boost the immune system of ageing dogs, or overweight dogs eating a low fat diet. Omega fatty acids can be supplemented in a dog's diet by giving your pet fish oil, flaxseed oil and evening primrose oil.

  2. 2

    Sprinkle vitamin C powder supplement on your dog's food according to your veterinarian's recommended dosage. Vitamin C works to build the immune system in dogs in much the same way it does for humans. It works as a natural antibiotic with antiviral properties.

  3. 3

    Supply your dog with neem oil supplements as an overall immune system booster. It reduces the chance of dogs getting parasites, ticks and fleas while providing a healthy coat and teeth. It lessens the chances of any type of skin diseases that can occur in canines and healthy skin in the crucial part of the innate immune system.

  4. 4

    Give your dog zinc supplements to help fight infection and for wound healing. Zinc increases the body's white cell count, which in turn helps the body to naturally fight off illness.

  5. 5

    Add the herb astragalus membranaceous to your dog's diet in the amount recommended by your veterinarian. This herb improves all functions of the immune system and can greatly improve rehabilitation in a dog recovering from illness or cancer.

  6. 6

    Supply your dog with the herb echinacea purpurea to boost the immune system, ward off allergies and to act as a natural antibiotic. Echinacea purpurea, or coneflower, also has the ability to act as a natural antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent for the body.

  7. 7

    Feed the herb withania somnifera to your dog according to your veterinarian's recommendation. This common perennial is also called yarrow and is known for its ability to act as a tonic for the blood and raise levels of haemoglobin. It also has anti-inflammatory and calming properties.

  8. 8

    Boost your dog's immune system with the herb sylibum marianus, also known as milk thistle. When given as a herbal supplement, it acts as a cleansing tonic for the liver. This is especially useful after the dog has been vaccinated or treated with prescription medicine for an illness. Yarrow contains a potent antioxidant called silymarin which helps to remove toxins from the body, especially from the liver.

Tips and warnings

  • Feed your dog high-quality food and be sure to provide plenty of exercise. Stress is one of the most important factors that can contribute negatively to a dog's overall health and well-being, which in turn has a direct effect on the immune system. Be sure to provide a calm and nurturing environment for the dog at all times.
  • Check with your veterinarian before starting your dog on any nutritional supplements or herbs. Only your veterinarian can prescribe the correct dosages of vitamins and herbal supplements based on weight, age and condition of your dog. Any change of diet should always be done slowly, as it can cause digestion problems.

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