Like humans have a flu season, dogs have seasons when a contagious illness, such as canine cough, is prevalent. But, just because your dog is exposed to a contagious virus does not necessarily mean he will get sick. While the strength and strain of a virus do play a role, having a strong and healthy immune system can make all the difference. Here are 5 easy ways to help your dog build a strong and healthy immune system.
5. Keep your dog’s environment clean
While your dog may not mind being covered in dirt or having his slobber on everything, an unclean living environment can make him prone to illness and parasites. Bacteria can easily grow on toys, crates, and bowls left unwashed. Additionally, dander, dirt, fur, and possibly flea larva, will collect on beds, blankets, shrubs and the floor (carpet, dirt, concrete, etc.) if left unattended. This creates a breeding ground for parasites, allergens, and other health hazards. A simple solution is to wash toys, bowls, and bedding regularly. Keep his environment as clean as possible - free of dust/fur balls, debris, and bugs (including spiders). And pick up all pet waste regularly, disposing of it in a waste bin away from your dog’s living area.
4. Keep your dog groomed
Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to illness when they have poor hygiene. Hygiene includes not only regular bathing but also trimming nails, cleaning eyes, ears and teeth, and regular brushing – keeping your dog’s fur free of mats and dander, and out of his eyes. Ensuring your dog is not fighting any infections, or hosting fleas, ticks, or other parasites, will help keep him ready to fight any illness that comes his way.
3. Keep your dog social
Taking your dog out and about can have adverse effects, but the benefits outweigh the potential risks. Exposing your dog to other dogs and new environments may or may not cause him to catch an illness, but it will help him build immunities regardless. A dog living in a bubble (the backyard or your living room) will not have built up the antibodies he needs to fight infection if he should catch something. Not to mention, such isolation can cause stress and depression, which weaken the immune system. So despite the potential risk of catch a cold, don’t be afraid of letting your dog experience the world.
2. Give your dog regular exercise
The physical and psychological benefits of exercise are tremendous for a dog, and vital to their overall health. Regular exercise strengthens the immune system and increases blood circulation. It reduces the risk of heart disease and other illnesses, as well as a dog’s susceptibility to urinary infections. It reduces or eliminates digestive problems as well as the chance of arthritis in senior years. Exercise reduces stress and the likelihood of depression while helping a dog build confidence. It keeps a dog from becoming obese which could result in depression and/or diabetes. It calms hyperactive dogs and reduces boredom (and therefore bad behavior such as chewing, digging, and excessive barking). And it reduces anxiety which may cause a dog to become aggressive or territorial.
1. Give your dog a well-balanced diet & supplements
A good diet is usually the first thing a vet will recommend for improving a dogs overall health, so do not underestimate the difference it can make. A well-balanced diet with good meat and protein – low in preservatives, by-products, and grains (corn, wheat, soy) – will help your dog stay fit and ready to fight off illness. Additionally, supplements can also help boost the immune system. Neem oil helps boost T cell production, while vitamin C is a natural antiviral and antibiotic supplement. Omega fatty acids – like Primrose oil, fish oil, and flaxseed oil – help with efficient digestion as well as the state of eyes, skin/coat, and internal organs. Dried beans – like kidney, pinto, and red beans – are natural antioxidants. And Zinc supplements boost white cell production and promote fast healing of wounds.